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a brief history of me and bikes

July 4, 2011

My relationship with bikes started a long time ago. My childhood tricycle collection was the envy of all our neighbourhood friends long after we’d taken to bicycling. That may explain why my transition to 2 wheels came sort of late but it was done without training wheels.

In Junior High I finally got a “real” bike for my birthday (a black and pink Norco bush pilot ladies) and started making the 8.5 km uphill ride to school because it was so much more fun than riding the bus. There were also some pretty good dirt bike trails my guys friends and I used to ride on the other side of the tracks. By high school my Norco was too small but it took until university before I upgraded to my most used bike thus far – my Specialized Rockhopper A1 Comp FS.

It was the first bike I paid for myself and I bought it from the LBS where a high school friend worked. My parents couldn’t understand how I could part with $1500 for a bike or what the appeal of clipless pedals was but I’m so glad I followed M’s advice and bought the best bike I could afford. It has stood the test of time and has taken me beyond commuting to cycle camping, mountain bike racing, and more recently road riding with slick tires.


I should mention that I had a brief stint with another bike too – a Dahon folding bike that I mentioned here. It was good for it’s initial purpose (bike/bus commuting from the suburbs) but is utterly useless now that we live at the top of a hill.

Back in February I really started to get itchy about finding another bike. You see the Dahon had shown me how quickly and easily I could really move on pavement and my rockhopper just wasn’t up to the task. It was built for dirt after all. In addition to speed I was also looking for a more comfortable ride and an excuse to leave my knobbies on the rockhopper. Thus began my renewed search.

I scoped out bike shop after bike shop but I kept hearing the same thing… pick the bike you like and we’ll make it fit. That approach had been used to make the rockhopper suit me better as my body changed but with comfort in one place came annoying things like twitchy handling and aches and pains in new places. There was no way I was going to go that route again. I also knew that I wanted a mixte and the option to haul stuff. The choices are slim and not at all tailored to short in the arm/long in the leg me.

Just as I was about to give up my quest for yet another year I came across this: the Sweetpea JJ Fantastic. I was at my in-laws place and there was no getting me off their computer that night. I looked at the fully custom options and while the 3 year waiting list was a bit much I was seriously considering taking the leap. This woman understood just what I was looking for. Then I learned that the mixte Sweetpea A-Line was customizable and advertised the dual ability to haul stuff and haul ass. Plus my favourite cut of skirt had the same name. Could this be true?

Before I’d even spoken with Natalie, I’d found a Serotta bike fitter in the city and had my appointment. That was easily some of the best $250 I’ve ever spent. New bike or not, the tips and tricks my fitter gave me were the best cycle coaching I’d ever received. That, and after the appointment I was also equipped with new knowledge of what kind of bike geometry to look for. Sweet!

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