It’s been many long months, but I am happy to announce that I think my bike is finally ready to go! And not a moment too soon. It’s been a lot harder than I expected to find parts that I like, that fit me, and that aren’t too expensive. Overall I think that I did a pretty good job. Here’s a tour…
Here she is, the 2010 Surly Long Haul Trucker, color Blue Velvet. This bike is a favorite of long distance tourists, especially those brave people that carry all of their own gear. It’s made of steel which makes it durable but heavy. It’s not a Lance Armstrong bike, but I am not Lance Armstrong, so that’s fine. I like the “relaxed geometry” because it allows me to sit up and look around instead of spending all my time hunched over staring at the road. This bike is a 46cm, almost the smallest size available. I understand it has smaller wheels, cranks, and brakes to accommodate all of us tiny people. Well done, Surly. I originally wanted an understated sort of olive color, but they were out of stock so they sent me this blue one instead. At first I was thrown off by how bright and loud it was but now I love it and I’ve outfitted it with equally garish accessories to complete the look.
Here is a close up of the frame. My favorite color is red so if there was ever an option for me to pick the color of anything on the bike, I always picked red. Also, red white and blue = America! Here you see the red water bottle holders. The pedals are dual-sided Shimanos. I felt that these were an important investment for me. I wanted to be able to use this bike to just ride around in wearing sneakers, sandals, whatever. I figure I am never buying another bike again, so I am going to make it as functional as possible so I can enjoy it until I’m 75. That being said, clipping in is awesome. It’s really indescribably cool to me. You learn to pedal more efficiently and the bike becomes part of you. It sounds cheesy but that’s really how it feels. The bike and I are one.
Here you see my Brooks Saddle. It’s made out of leather like horse saddles. It is literally as hard as plastic (or plywood?). The idea is that if you spend enough hours sitting on it, it’ll start to break in and mold to the specific contours of your butt. After 500 miles my saddle is still as hard as a rock, but it never hurts me and my butt doesn’t get sore even after 5 hours of riding. So I guess it’s working? The purpose of the springs on the back is to provide suspension and even out the bumps on the ride. Really, I think all they do is make a squeaking noise whenever I sit down or bounce around on the seat that makes me feel like a fatass.
Here you can see some of my cool add-ons. Fenders with mudflaps around the wheels so I don’t get mud and water flung up on my back. A sound investment, I think. Also a rear red light and a rear rack with bungee cords. Right now I usually strap my rain gear on the back because you never know when it’s going to thunderstorm here in Blacksburg. The whole back part of the bike is pretty heavy. I had a rear rack bag but I exchanged it for this Ortleib handlebar bag. This bad boy looks huge on front because it is. It was sorta pricey and I didn’t want it, but now that I have it I think that it’s awesome. It opens towards me when I’m riding, so I can reach in real fast and grab a snack or my GPS or whatever. It’s also waterproof which is always a big plus. Right now I have a whole really odd assortment of things in there… gummy worms, arm warmers, sunscreen, camera, apples and bananas, candy bars… etc. I like to be over prepared as far as snacking is concerned.
Just a close up view. That little mesh pocket fits my cell phone perfectly and there is another one the other side that fits my camera. The brakes the bike came with were way too big for my freakishly small hands. I actually had two sprained thumbs from holding on to dear life going down Ellet Rd. because I could only wrap one and a half fingers around my brake levers. So the good folks at Bike Barn specially ordered these brakes for me. They are so much better. My thumbs are still recovering (months later) but now I can use three whole fingers to brake. To install the new levers they had to unwrap my handlebars which was a great opportunity to re-wrap them in gel tape; now they are nice and cushy. I’m spoiled.
Here’s what things look like to me for hours while I’m riding. A bar regular sold me his bike computer at a great price. You install some magnets on the wheel and it knows how many times it spins around and how fast. Then the computer displays your current speed, average speed, top speed, mileage, ride time and lots of other things, even the time and temperature. Once again, it’s an upgrade that’s a lot cooler than I thought it would be. Sometimes I’ll be dying trying to climb up a hill at 4mph. I’ll play games where I try to get up to 4.1mph, then 4.2mph, then I’ll try to get to 4.5 by the time I get to turn, etc. It’s neat to be able to measure your progress like that. I’m not an adrenaline junkie at all, but too often I’ll find myself playing the “how fast can I go downhill” game and the “can I break the speed limit” game.
I love this disclaimer! I’m told it relates to add-ons and panniers and whatnot, but I like to think that Surly just wanted to tell me, “hey, we understand if you put on a few pounds. Don’t worry fatty, you’ll fit fine on this hunk of steel!”
Here’s a picture of our pull out sofa, which is apparently pulled out at the moment for the purpose of holding all my crap. Everyday I get a box or something from Amazon or REI. It’s like Christmas except I had to pay for it all. The green jacket is my breathable rain jacket that I’m in love with. On top are my rain pants. Let’s see…. I spy a sleeping pad, a box of cheap camping pots and pans, a backpack, a sleeping bag, and part of a tent I guess I forgot to pack. I’m not looking forward to packing this stuff and have just let it pile up… obviously.
And there it is! I thought my bike would never come together, and it’s still a work in progress, but I have everything for it I really wanted. The saddle, the pedals, the bag… all of it was carefully researched and paid for by mixing bourbon with coke time and time again. I put a lot of thought into some of this stuff and I really really hope it works out for me during this trip so that a) I don’t feel like an idiot and b) I don’t have to spend any more money on bike stuff.
I’m so excited and nervous about our departure in a week. I have a fun, new ride planned out tomorrow that I’m stoked about. Now that I have a new camera (thanks Mimi and PopPop!), I’ll be posting pictures of my training rides for the next week. The country around here is so beautiful and I cannot wait to share it with everyone.