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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Junk bicycles 

On any given club ride, especially during the Winter, I am bound to have the ugliest, oldest bike going. My early-80s Bianchi is a messy mutant, and it's not made any prettier by the mis-matched fork (used to make my short-reach front brake work) or brake levers. It also really needs a wider handlebar to suit my body.

One well-meaning clubmate suggested I should take the entire pile of bike bits in my shed to Cheapskates (the other used sporting-goods shop in Vancouver), sell them for what I could get, and buy one decent bike.

It's a nice thought. But I don't have enough bike bits of value to trade for even one decent bike. I have an outmoded (but functional) hardtail mountain bike. I have a race bike that is on the outer edges of what others actually race, but has integrated brakes and shifters ("brifters", or what Shimano calls STI and Campagnolo calls Ergo), which I consider an important advantage in racing. After those two machines, worth collectively maybe $1000 on a good day, it's just so much oddball junk: a made-up fixed gear; my commuter Bianchi, long on utility and short on beauty; my old Nishiki MTB, now far too small for me, and various other frames and bits.

The awful truth is that if I had to buy a good, new road bike, one serious enough for racing, I couldn't really afford it. The downside is that I am forever making do, most recently with the excellent donation of a right-side (front rings) brifter from Dave, which will go some way to making the racing Pinarello a more complete machine. It wouldn't be so bad if I was a really skilled mechanic, but I'm more knowledgable than skilled, and more perceptive than polished.

The awful truth is that my choices are to ride and race on the bodged gear I have, or not race at all.

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