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Old 01-19-06, 07:55 PM   #1
Raketmensch
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Woohoohoohoo!!!

I got on a bike today!

For the past ten days I have been in the land of airports and hotel rooms. Managed a couple of desultory "rides" on hotel fitness center stationary bikes, but other than that I've been sitting around too much and wishing I were home.

Today I had most of the day off, as I will tomorrow, so I decided to stop by a nearby LBS where I'd seen a very tasty-looking Cervelo in the window... the idea being to scratch my bike itch a little (or maybe just torment myself) by drooling on some carbon. Business is slow, I chat with the owner a bit... turns out he used to work in a place where some friends of mine work today, and we've got some common interests. Long story short, after ten minutes of chatting I've told him my tale of woe, and the guy offers to rent me a road bike for the rest of my stay, for a very reasonable price! Not only that, it's his own personal ride... he had to call home while I was standing there and talk to his wife to get a lift home from work! And we're not talking about just any bike here. Merlin Extralight frame, Ksyrium SL wheelset, full Dura-Ace... this thing is a titanium rocket.

So I'm just back from today's ride, and still glowing. Except for one or two recent test rides, this was the nicest bike I've ever been on. The first fifteen or so miles was into a stiff headwind, so the biggest difference I felt compared to my steel steed back home (except for the Dura-Ace shifting, of course) was that I was a bit more aerodynamic in the drops. But the thing accelerates like an antelope, and once I hit the hills I found that it climbs with delightful ease. Coming home it was all downhill and tailwinds, and brothers and sisters, I'm here to tell ya... down in the drops at 53-12 on a steep downhill, if that thing could have gone any faster, I probably wouldn't be here to tell you about it. Very, very sweet.

It wasn't all perfect. I didn't have gloves, so my hands feel a little buzzed, and I had to make do with beat-up running shoes and toeclip pedals. The fit was close but not quite right, and I'm not all that crazy about the feel of titanium frames... I could feel every piece of gravel in the road. And to tell the truth, Oahu isn't the best place for cycling... the traffic is awful. Still, it was a truly wonderful afternoon.

And, best of all, I don't have to be anywhere tomorrow until about 3:00 PM or so. So the plan is to get up early, tuck the Merlin into the back of the rental car, and zip over to the other side of the island where the traffic isn't quite so bad.

I'm a very happy boy tonight!!!
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Old 01-19-06, 09:43 PM   #2
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Man, that bike sounds nice...nicer than I'll probably ever own.

Yeah, get out of the Oahu traffic if at all possible and let the steed rip!!!

Interested in more impressions of the titanium vs. steel. Of course, there are a lot of other factors. I've always loved steel, but have been thinking titanium or carbon for my next bike as well. Maybe I'll end up with the Specialized Roubaix Expert, which I came close to buying a month ago, based on its balance of comfort and performance.

I wish the shops would all have nice bikes as rentals so we could really have at them prior to making a final buying decision.
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Old 01-19-06, 09:43 PM   #3
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Aint life grand!

ENJOY the ride!
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Old 01-20-06, 03:02 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by KeithA
Interested in more impressions of the titanium vs. steel.
Apples and oranges. (Or, under the circumstances, guavas and pineapples.) In my extensive experience on steel, it is soft, sweet, comfortable, forgiving, and heavy. Feels good, but it's a lot of metal to haul up a hill. In my one day of experience on titanium, it is light, fast, responsive, and it rattles your teeth. A very different experience.

And then there's carbon. I have, altogether, about half an hour of riding experience on it, and my sense of it so far is that it combines the best of both worlds. That is, mind you, after half an hour. And also after having plunked down a fair chunk of change on a carbon bike that should arrive on my doorstep in a little over a month. I guess I'll find out how good it really is when The Bike arrives.

Do I sound nervous about this? I am!
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Old 01-20-06, 03:56 AM   #5
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How about that Cervelo in the window? Was it the carbon Soloist? This is a great opportunity to try that one too. That will beat the Merlin in performance going up Maui's volcano, Haleakala.
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Old 01-20-06, 08:57 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Raketmensch
Apples and oranges. (Or, under the circumstances, guavas and pineapples.) In my extensive experience on steel, it is soft, sweet, comfortable, forgiving, and heavy. Feels good, but it's a lot of metal to haul up a hill. In my one day of experience on titanium, it is light, fast, responsive, and it rattles your teeth. A very different experience.

And then there's carbon. I have, altogether, about half an hour of riding experience on it, and my sense of it so far is that it combines the best of both worlds. That is, mind you, after half an hour. And also after having plunked down a fair chunk of change on a carbon bike that should arrive on my doorstep in a little over a month. I guess I'll find out how good it really is when The Bike arrives.

Do I sound nervous about this? I am!
Thanks for the feedback.

I've never even been on a carbon or titanium bike. Saving my pennies so that I have a stash to buy a new bike for cash. Going to try hard to resist test drives until I'm ready to buy, then go crazy with test rides.

You'll be on your ride soon!!! What a great day it'll be.
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Old 01-20-06, 05:27 PM   #7
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I think you'll enjoy carbon. I have 10,000+ miles on 2 carbon frames and have no complaints.

I'm jealous of the cycling on Oahu. How are the winds?
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Old 01-20-06, 06:21 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by jppe
I'm jealous of the cycling on Oahu. How are the winds?
Fierce! Today I got up early and took the Merlin over to the other side of the island. I just had to get away from the Honolulu traffic. It was really nice... one of the few really rural parts of Oahu, with very few cars, chickens running across the road, and beautiful sunshine. I rode out to Ka'ena Point at the far western end of the island, screamin' the whole way with the wind at my back.

Coming back, though... whew! I remember once, long ago, studying the trade winds. Probably eighth grade social studies or something like that. I'm sure that eighteenth-century mariners appreciated having such a reliable source of power, but man, you sure feel it biking into it! Still, the Merlin got me into a pretty aerodynamic tuck when I was in the drops, and I just put my head down and cranked.

Interesting thing... somehow the bike felt faster today than it did yesterday. The differences between heavy steel and light titanium just seemed more pronounced. I think the difference was probably more in the traffic than anything else... with less of my second-by-second attention devoted to not getting flattened, I was able to pay more attention to the nuances of the ride.

Gotta admit, I was sorry to hand the Merlin back at the LBS. But tomorrow I'll be headed for home and the trusty old steed.
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Old 01-20-06, 06:23 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Garfield Cat
How about that Cervelo in the window? Was it the carbon Soloist?
Yeah, it was... gorgeous bike. Alas, not available for rental... the only bike in the whole shop that the owner would rent was his own. So all I could do was stand in awe.

Still, the Merlin wasn't bad!
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