Hi from Chicago area
Hello all. Please bear with me as I tell you a little about myself...
I'm from the Chicago area Western Suburbs and having recently lost my job a couple months ago, I decided to reintroduce myself to the wonderful world of cycling. I used to ride my road bike a lot back in college (late 80's early 90's), and once I graduated back in 1993 I kind-of switched over to mountain biking and put the old road bike on mothballs. Fast forward 15 years later and here I am on my road bike again.
After I lost my job in early June I decided the next day to take advantage of the "down time" and use my "free" summer vacation to start exercising again to get my somewhat chunky arse back into shape. So I jumped on my Kona Dawg (it's a relatively heavy full suspension all mountain bike) and took it for a ride on the Illinois Prairie Path (primarily crushed gravel). I ended up enjoying the ride a lot and immediately started thinking I wanted to transform that bike to more of a X-country bike to make it more fitting for long distance on flat surfaces. So I started making minor modifications like swapping out the massive knobby tires for urban style road tires, swapping the stem to a shorter, more upright model for more comfort, and locking out the suspension for more efficiency. After building up to about 40 miles round trip on that beast, I really started to appreciate the hefty weight of the bike and decided, even though the workout is great, I wanted something faster and lighter. So I checked out a few local shops looking at hybrids and cyclocross bikes, but they just didn't do anything for me. I wanted something *fast* and more different from what I had.
I went home and pulled the old road bike from storage, put it up on the stand, gave it a quick tune-up and a few readjustments, re-taped the bars, filled up the tires, and took it for a spin. It's a 1988 Schwinn Tempo, which at the time was one of their top of the line road racing bikes. It, along with the Circuit and Paramount, were built back when Schwinn was still considered a mainstream high end bike manufacturer, with their factory right here in Chicago. It has a chromoly steel frame (I think the frame was actually built by some Italian manufacturer back then), and full 105 component group. For what it is/was, it's a great bike, and I really felt fast on it, but I also felt a bit uncomfortable after about 10 miles. I also realized how much I hated the down-tube shifters. I rode it some more and made some additional adjustments to try and get the fit a little better, and also started researching doing an STI conversion on the gears. After looking more into it I finally realized that the geometry on that bike just doesn't work for me any more. It's more of a sprinting bike and not really built for long distance rides. As well, the cost to modify it with STI and perhaps changing out the wheels and forks to a modern style with a riser stem, just didn't seem cost effective.
So for the rest of this summer I will continue to ride the Kona for distance rides on the Prairie Path and the Schwinn for short sub-ten-mile sprints around the paved paths and neighborhoods. Either way it's great exercise and a nice change of pace to switch back and forth between both. Since early June I've lost 25 lbs. In the mean time I am researching a new road bike for next year. After doing a ton of reading and test riding a few different bikes recently, I know I want a carbon frame and 105 components. I'm leaning towards a Specialized Tarmac or Roubaix. I have my eye on a Giant and Cannondale Synapse as well. Hopefully when I go back to work and start earning a real living again I'll be able to find a good deal over the winter on a "last year closeout". I just need to find the right size and geometry to fit my riding style.
Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I'm looking forward to getting back into this wonderful sport again. I had forgotten how much I used to enjoy going fast on two wheels!