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August 18, 2006

See Me Rollin'

One administrative note before today’s post: After my last post, a couple of people mentioned that my yellow swim cap might actually attract sharks, which is obviously a situation I’d like to avoid. Apparently they forgot to mention that little fact on Mythbusters. So next time out, I’ll be wearing the pink cap that I’d shamefully buried in my sock drawer - you know, unless someone tells me that pink attracts orcas or something.

It’s also a good reminder of what I’ve said multiple times in this space: sometimes I’m a complete idiot.

On with today’s post…

“They see me rollin’ … they hatin’ …
Patrollin’, they tryin’ to catch me ridin’ dirty …”

- Chamillionaire, “Ridin’”

(Before July, I thought those lyrics referred to Chamillionaire’s experience with racial profiling while driving his pimped-out SUV. But recently, another thought occurred to me … do you think Chamillionaire is a Tour de France fan?

And yes, I heard that song on my newly reformatted rap/rock radio station. They’re still tormenting me with that.)

In the summer of 1998, I decided to train for my first triathlon.

I was on a limited budget, so instead of investing in a tri-bike, I bought a pair of slick tires and aero bars, and gave my Specialized RockHopper an extreme makeover.

I did hundreds of training miles on that bike, until a friend decided to upgrade his own racing bike. He knew about my bike, and asked if I wanted to use his old tri-bike (which he called the Green Machine - see below) for the race.

He and I are roughly the same height. The bike weighed about half as much as my RockHopper. And it was free. It took me about 2 seconds to accept the offer.

The bike was already about 15 years old at that time, but still had the stiff frame and smooth machinery that was top-of-the-line material in the 1980s. And at that year’s triathlon, I rode the thing like I stole it. The bike segment was undoubtedly my favorite portion of the race, and I nearly matched the pace that my friend posted on his new mack-daddy ride over the Olympic distance course.

After the triathlon, my friend told me to keep the bike (and wouldn’t take any money for it – now that’s a friend), and the Green Machine became mine. It typically hibernates for the winter, but when the weather gets warm and I’m training for another tri, I’ll log several hundred miles on it over the course of a few months. Last October I did a very hilly 100-mile ride from Carmel Valley to Hearst Castle (picture below) like it was a ride through the park.

However, the Green Machine is starting to show its age. While the bike itself hasn’t become much slower, the world of bicycle technology has continually advanced, to the point that any $800 road bike today has a much lighter frame and more superior components than I can compete with. (Although I still hold my own pretty well – more on that in a second).

So if you’re somebody who uses the term “bike porn” for pictures like these, think of the Green Machine as Vanessa Del Rio. Back in the day, there wasn’t anything as well-built or immediately exciting. She had the best geometry around, and set the standard for high performance. Nowadays she’s got about a million miles on her and looks totally overworked and outdated, but under the right circumstances she can still deliver the goods.

Today there are models who are much younger, better-looking, and come augmented with expensive components to make your ride even more exhilarating. And sure, I could go out and get myself a Jenna Jameson, but sometimes I don’t see the point – especially when I’ve got a model that gets me to the same, um, finishing point anyway. Yes, Jenna would probably get me there a little faster, but I’m not shooting for an age-group win or an Ironman slot – so isn’t it OK to take a few extra minutes to enjoy the ride? Sometimes the experience is about more than just speed, right?

Each summer, I tell my wife that this might be the last year before I upgrade to something lighter and faster. I’ve been saying that for almost nine years now. I’ve done several more triathlons since that first one. So I guess you could say that my needs have been met – and that’s really all that any guy can ask for.

Finally, about the name: I didn’t pick it. My friend called it the Green Machine for years before it became mine. I never gave any thought to naming my bike like a lot of cyclists and triathletes do. Perhaps since I always thought it would be a temporary companion, I purposely didn’t name it, to avoid becoming too attached – you know, kind of like finding a stray puppy. So even though I sometimes called it the Green Machine, I just always considered it “my bike.”

Then this past weekend I went for a ride with a group of guys riding Kestrels, Trek Madones, Cannondales, and similar high-end bikes. I felt incredibly strong, easily chasing down any riders who went off the front, and lowering the hammer to pull away on every major climb. As we regrouped at the top of a hill, one rider looked my bike over, and came up with this:

“It’s big, green, ugly as hell, and can rip our legs off. You should call it Shrek.”

I thought it was a fantastic idea. And seeing as how I’ve watched that movie about 100 times, it’s amazing that I didn’t think of it first. So even though I’m not into naming things, I’m actually going to think that one over.


matt 8/18/06, 10:02 AM  

'bike porn' is a new one for me...that is just too funny, donald.

by the way, i can tell that the X103 (are these the right call letters and numbers?) format is rubbing off on you now. when i was up in santa cruz i was mystified by the alternating rap and alternative format. now, you are introducing rap star analogies...nice post...i like the shrek idea...let us now what you decide.

olga 8/18/06, 10:32 AM  

Considering naming your green machine your own name - does it mean no upgrade is in the future? You know, attachments and all...

backofpack 8/18/06, 10:35 AM  

I'm with Olga - you are attached...(and maybe a tad touched too!)

TriBoomer 8/18/06, 12:56 PM  

Proof that it's not about the bike but it's all about the engine.

I upgraded my entry level Treck a year ago to a Specialized SWorks Tri bike and instead of selling it or giving it away (that's a great thing your friend did BTW) I use it for family rides and on my trainer in the winter.

Shrek is a great name.

Stay tuned...

Deene 8/18/06, 2:39 PM  

shrek is a great name but sounds gentle enough. you need to throw a christening party.
(my ex-bro inlaw used to call me deene the mean machine - i'll have to remind him of the mean enough to rip legs off next time i see him)

Mike 8/18/06, 11:14 PM  

Donald, I can relate to the bike envy myself. Even though I have a kestrel, it is 6+ years old and so many nice toys out there now.
Great that you are kicking A$$ on Shrek!

Btw, who is Jenna Jameson?;-)

Cliff 8/19/06, 5:58 AM  

I was thinking of the name Green Hornet..

I say keep it if u have no probs with it (no back pain..etc) :)....let them laugh before the race...then freak everyone out when you pass them.

jeanne 8/23/06, 6:35 AM  

I could make a slightly off color comment about how some women actually prefer slow...nevermind.

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