$700 v. $7000 Bike: What is the Difference?

When talking to my husband, I frequently hear how he does not understand my bicycle obsession, because it is just a bike. I understand, because I used to be him. Until I worked in a bike shop, I knew nothing of the different between my 8-speed Claris components and 10-speed Ultegra components and the new 11-speed groups. The only difference I knew was carbon fiber versus aluminum, and for me all that meant was weight savings.

The $700 Bike

IMAGE.JPG

My Trek Lexa purchased in 2012 brand new. It is a full aluminum frame and fork. It had Claris 8-speed components, externally routed cables, and aluminum wheels. This was my dream at the time. I had barely ridden a road bike. it was lighter than the mountain bike I had to ride around campus, and it was purple. It also came with pedals with toe clips and straps.

The $7000 (approximately) Bike

IMAGE.JPG

My Trek Madone. The first bike I bought for myself. It is a carbon frame, fork, steerer. It has lightweight aluminum wheels, Ultegra 11-speed electronic components, and is red, which automatically means it is faster. It is also an aero frame with hidden cable routing.

Where does the $6300 come in?

Carbon Frame & Fork - It is more responsive, stiffer, and absorbs vibration from the road better than aluminum.
11-speed components - The number of gears alone creates smoother shifting. In addition, this system being electronic means I can shift with the click of a button and there is not a long lever throw, especially for the front shift. This makes for faster shifting, especially going up hills.
Lighter Wheels - Another weight saving move. The wheels I have on the Madone are also a little stiffer and have a wider rim, so they fit 700x25 tires better the the ones on the Lexa.
Hidden Cable Routing - I am not talking about just cable routing that is mostly in the frame. I mean you don’t see the cables on this bike. This is not only protecting the cables, but it is also reducing some air drag (although if I shrink myself that does it too).

The Real Question

Does the $7000 Bike Make Me Happier?
I don’t know. I love both bikes. I tell people I will never get rid of my Lexa, because it was my first bike, but I would sell the Madone for the newer Madone SLR 7 Disc, and I would upgrade to carbon wheels, so I guess what I am saying is that you do get something for your money, but there is nothing that can beat the feeling of having something that is yours and allows you to feel as free as I did on that first bike. I have upgraded some parts of course like any good bike mechanic would on the Lexa.

Top 5 Cycling & Training Books I've Read

I like reading books, but mainly when they have to do with cycling or triathlon. Lately, I have been picking up a book at night to read instead of watching something on TV or playing on my phone, because it is supposed to help you fall asleep. Sometimes I like to read inspirational stories, other times I like to just read about someone’s journey, and other times I like to read about training.

How Bad do You Want it?  Mat Fitzgerald
Pro Cycling on $10 a Day Phil Gaimon
  1. The Triathlete’s Training Bible - Joe Friel
    This one has a lot of science in it, and I enjoy it for that reason. I am always trying to learn more about how and when I should train and recover. I recommend this especially if you are training for something and coaching yourself, because it can provide a wealth of information. There is also a version specifically designed for cyclists, and I recommend that one as well.

  2. How Bad do you want it? - Matt Fitzgerald
    I bought this book before Ironman Louisville in 2016 in order to help myself mentally prepare by reading stories from top athletes. The one that stuck with me the most in this book was Siri Lindley’s chapter, and I took that with me into my race. I highly recommend it, because it offers something for people like me who have trouble with the mental side of training.

  3. Pro Cycling on $10 a Day - Phil Gaimon
    If you are looking for something funny, enticing, and all around entertaining, this is my top recommendation. I started it and read probably 75% of it in one day. It starts with when Phil first started cycling and chronicles his journey in the world of pro cycling and the struggles that came with it, while not focusing too much on how he was not making enough money and living on people’s couches at times.

  4. Surfacing - Siri Lindley
    Like I mentioned before, I was really interested by Siri Lindley’s story in one of the other books, so I went out and bought her book when it came out, and I was not disappointed. I read the entire book in one flight from Nashville to San Diego shortly after Ironman Louisville in 2016. I found her journey from beginner to world champion triathlete to be very intriguing, especially seeing the way she trained progress throughout the book.

  5. Bike Snob Abroad - BikeSnobNYC
    This is one of my current coffee table books, and a little different from the others, because it is looking at cycling from a different lens than that of a pro cyclist or triathlete, and more from the perspective of an ordinary cyclist exploring how the norms in one country differ from the norms of another when it comes to cycling. I like it, because it is one of those books where I can read a short section, and then step away and come back much later and still enjoy it without feeling like I missed something.

Training in Nashville

I work in a bike shop and we get questions all the time about where people should go to train, so I thought I would create a post with just that. Here is your guide to training in Nashville.

Centennial Sportsplex

Centennial Sportsplex

Swim

Pool Swimming. Do you like a cold pool or a warm pool?
If the answer is cold, my recommendation is the Centennial Sportsplex on West End. This is also a good option if you are staying downtown. It is a Olympic size pool, set up short course most of the year, except during the summer. They have anywhere between two and seven lap lanes available and the pool is open 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. If you prefer a structured workout, I work for Nashville Aquatic Club as a masters coach and highly recommend you look into joining us for a workout.
If the answer is warm, the local YMCA’s are a great option, if they have enough lanes. They have between three and six lap lanes, depending on the Y. I recommend Maryland Farms in Brentwood at 6:30 p.m., because it is normally quiet then, and it is open until 9:45 p.m. if you are a night owl.
An option in the middle would be also in Brentwood, the Indoor Sports Complex, which is an Olympic size pool with four to eight lap lanes available and is not too warm or too cold.

Open Water. I recommend going with the Nashville Aquatic Club group out to Percy Priest Lake. You can go to the public areas on your own, but some have heavy boat traffic, which is why I recommend a group in a cove.

Natchez Trace Bridge

Natchez Trace Bridge

Bike

If you are downtown, your closest option will be Shelby Bottoms Greenway, from there you can get on roads and follow the Music City Bikeway, which goes all the way to Belle Meade or follow the Music City Bikeway the other way on Shelby Bottoms to the Stones River Greenway, ending at the Percy Priest Dam.

If you are on the west side of town, I recommend either finding the greenways in Percy Warner and Edwin Warner Parks or coming out to where I like to ride on routes near the Natchez Trace. I can provide Strava links to routes or map some, but my favorite is to ride out the Natachez Trace from Highway 100, headed south. You get off at the Lieper’s Fork exit and stop by either Red Bird Coffee or Puckett’s Grocery for a minute and then take back roads back through Franklin. There are a few options for the route back, and I can provide the exact route if someone is interested. It has a lot of rolling hills, but only one significant climb up the trace entrance.

Belle Meade Boulevard

Belle Meade Boulevard

Run

If you want to get out of the city, any of the greenways I recommend for biking are also good for running. Aside from that, I also recommend Belle Meade Boulevard as a good option for running. It connects to an entrance to Percy Warner Park, and is about five miles total if you go out and back. It is a rolling route, and very shaded in the early morning hours, but it will get extremely hot in the afternoons.

There is also a path in Brentwood starting by the Brentwood Library on Concord Road that is very flat if you prefer a flat route, and another path I like in Franklin. This one starts at the soccer fields at the Franklin Recreation Center and goes along the river, through a neighborhood and into downtown Franklin where you can continue onto a new extension I have not run or on to the sidewalks in Franklin.

Those are all of my best suggestions for where to train. I have lived in Nashville since 1996 and once in a while am still finding new places to go run or ride, so I will definitely try to share those with pictures as I stumble upon them.

Singlespeed Cyclocross Build (Part Two)

I ran into some problems with the second half of this build.

Trek Stranglehold Dropout System

Problem 1

TRP brakes.  I’m used to Shimano, where the hose is not attached at the shifter to make for easy installation on an internally routed frame.  I ended up having to cut and bleed both anyway, but it made the routing more complicated than it needed to be, aside from the rear chainstay where Trek has made it as simple as possible where the frame forms a tube for the hose to run through.

Problem 2

I had to warranty my rear brake after installing it and trying to bleed it when we found out the bolt was over tightened, meaning I could not loosen it to bleed the brake.  TRP was very good about it though and promptly shipped a new caliper, and I am able to cannibalize the first one for spare parts.  Then I had to cut the hose again, but it was not as much of a problem this time and the bleed got done.

Problem 3

Not necessarily a real problem, but I hate wrapping bar tape.

Custom Trek Crockett Singlespeed

Overall, this build finished up well, although I do not like bleeding TRP brakes.  The brake levers actually have holes in them, so they look pretty cool in photos, and the bike is fun to ride with perfect gearing.  Learning the dropout system and setting up a singlespeed is a little new to me, but with the help of more experienced mechanics I got it all done.

I Want to Ride my Bike Because

There are so many reasons I want to ride my bike, and sometimes I don’t have the time to actually ride it when I want to. It can be a bad day, a need to train, or just an overwhelming need to go ride a bike. These are a few of my favorites I’ve run into in my life lately.

Trek Domane SL 6

I cried over a sandwich - but to be honest it was a really bad sandwich and not what I ordered. I don’t know why exactly I cried over the sandwich, but I was having a rough morning, and the sandwich topped it off. I got home from work at 8:30 that night and got the trainer set-up and rode my bike, because I really needed to ride my bike.

I haven’t ridden my bike - and I just want to ride bikes all the time. I love my bikes, and I just want to ride them all the time. Unfortunately, school, work, and family can all get in the way of my opportunity to ride my bikes.

I haven’t ridden this exact bike - a personal problem. Not everyone has multiple bikes to choose from like me, but I know one person who has more than me, and he will ride one bike, go home, and then ride another bike, so all of the bikes get ridden. I wish I lived somewhere I could do this easily.

Trek Madone with Bontrager Ion 800 Headlight

It’s 70 degrees out - in December. I remember one Christmas, the weather was so nice, I rode my bike from my parents’ house to my aunt’s house for Christmas dinner. People thought I was a little crazy, but I just thought it was nice to get out in the clear weather.

I built a new bike - yes another one. I love building bikes. It may be a little bit of an obsession I have, because I like having the newest things, but it is also fun for me. I love a project bike.