If you want to skip the boring narrative, my question is at the bottom of the post. Thanks!
Warning--the pics are HUGE.
Some of you know I had surgery two weeks ago to repair a hernia, smack dab in the middle of working up to longer rides and working on fat loss. As of today, I weigh 304 pounds, down from a measured 396 on 1 June 2004 (the last time I had the same surgery to repair the same hernia.) Anyway, I've been very careful about recovering, avoiding lifting, etc. Yesterday I did four easy miles with my kids on the bike and felt great, so this morning I got up resolved to go out and go further. I was only going to go 5-6 miles, but when I reached that point, I felt great, so I decided to loop out to the next town over. We just broke a nasty heat wave and it's a good thirty degrees cooler outside today than it was Sunday, so everything felt great, the flowers were waving, the sun was shining, the corn was being corn. . . . and then the irritating little hitch in my pedaling came back.
This started on the last 15-mile ride I did before my surgery when I stood up to do a hill and felt a weird pop and a little slip. I looked down and noticed that the cranks were loose in the bottom bracket, wobbling back and forth, so I put it down to that. Last night, though, before we took the short ride, I tightened that up and it felt great. Couldn't be the problem now. And the closer I got to town, the mushier and more wobbly it felt. It almost felt like something was "resetting" whenever I let up on the pedaling.
So when I got to the little town square, I hopped off and checked the chain, gears, etc. Nothing. Then I looked down and it was staring me right in the face--the seat tube was completely ripped in two right above the weld that held it on the bottom bracket. How I missed that, I don't know, but there must have been a pretty good rend there the whole time. In Huffy's defense, I will say their weld apparently held firm. It was the tube itself that was completely sheared off.
OK, now, this was the August and Venerable Huffy. A 12-year old Huffy from a department store that's far too small for me. It's not a huge loss as bikes go, but it leaves me without a bike until I can get one. I'm going to salvage the upgrades and put them on my wife's cheapie mountain bike so she can put some miles on it with me, but I'm going to the LBS to get something better. I was NOT planning on spending the money this soon, but I know I'll be happier with a better bike and I know I'm going to keep cycling, so it's not a huge loss.
Now, to the question: this has made me rethink my attitude toward big guy bikes. Even at 305, I figured from talking to the guy at the LBS that I could probably ride just about whatever mid-value bike I want without going all the way to the Kona Hoss (or similar, I only mention the Kona because it seems to be the choice of BF uber-clydesdales.) I'm not talking super-lightweight race bikes, here, but certainly entry-level road bikes or some of the faster hybrids. Is that crazy? Or is the Huffy just that crappy?
Part of me says not to base any opinion on the Huffy. It was cheap and I got several years of regular riding out of it, followed by years of neglect and storage and then a flurry of hard riding for a couple of months. But I was not planning on spending this money at this time, and I can't afford to get a replacement and then replace that bike after two more months of riding.
Here's what I want out of my next bike:
- I still have over 100 pounds to lose, which means plenty of miles in as much weather as I can. I'm aware the prairie winter is not that far off. I want to be able to ride in anything short of icy, snowy roads.
- I want to train for centuries. I've set the goal of completing a metric next May (Tour de Stooges) and the Springfield Century next July.
- I need to be able to ride this bike at every weight between 300 and 200 pounds.
- I want to keep this thing for years and years if I can. I'm willing to keep it maintained, of course.
Am I crazy to look for all this in one bike? In the opinion of this forum, do I need to buy a bike specifically for my weight? If I do that, is there a Giant entry-level model for my needs? My favorite LBS so far stocks mostly Giant.