Thursday, December 24, 2009

A New Ride

After a taste of cross riding I got the go-ahead from my SO to buy a cross bike.

Because I love the ride and durability characteristics of titanium my first choice of frame material was titanium. I contacted Bill Holland to see what he would charge to build a frame and it turns out he doesn't build cross bikes.

So I turned to the internet. My searches turned up several builders of ti cross bikes and I eventually settled on (TiCycles). One of my regular training partners rides a TiCycles road bike and really loves it. That's a good recommendation.

Several email and phone contacts later we settled on a 52cm frame with Shimano components. One part of the setup that I'm particularly excited about is the disk brakes. I'm so sick of grinding down my wheels with road grit.

The final result is pictured here:

The fenders and light are for my first ride, but more on that later.

Once Dave (of TiCycles) and I settled on the specifics and he got a deposit the process moved ahead. This is a stock frame so it's welded in China. (He has all his stock stuff made in China these days.) After weeks of waiting I got notice that the frame had been delivered to Portland. It passed his QA review and he began the assembly process. A week or so later I got notice that he was done.

The final payment was on its way and I made my final preparations for the pickup adventure.

Since he's in Portland (Oregon) and I'm in Seattle I decided to take the train to Portland and bus out to his factory. Another twist: the single bus line serving his area stops about 2 miles short. "No problem" he says; I'll pick you up. Great; this adventure began.

On December 22 I was on the Portland-bound train at 7:30 a.m., decked out in my cycling togs. It's a beautiful ride with sections that go along right next to Puget Sound. The seats are comfortable, you can get up and walk around any time, there's a dining car, and even power for a laptop! Can't say enough about the quality of this trip.

My trip to pick up the bike went very smoothly. It was a peaceful trip to Portland. My only nervous part was that I forgot to put Dave's phone number into my phone before leaving and hadn't written it down to take with me. TiCycles wasn't listed in the phone book at the train station and my VZ Navigator didn't allow me to find nearby internet cafes. No libraries were with walking distance so I called Janet and she looked it up on the web for me.

The weather was very auspicious - by the time the train got to Portland the clouds had broken up and there were glimpses of blue sky! It was a 2-block walk to a bus stop to take me out his direction. Glad I was dressed warmly as I had to wait quite a while for the bus.

After that it was uneventful: got off the bus at its last stop on St. Helens Rd and called for a pickup. My ride was there in just a few minutes. It turns out that Dave has one person working for him (Eric) and his shop is in the basement of his house! So we were out in this rural area with a bike fabricator working in his basement. This spring he will be moving into a much larger workshop out behind his house.

The bike fit just great except the seat was a wee bit high. Dave lowered it about a half centimeter and it felt just right. Took it for a spin and it rode just fine. Dave took a few pictures of me and the bike to potentially put on his Facebook site. I put a pair of clip-on fenders on the bike and headed back to Portland.

My initial plan was to go back to St. Helens Rd and follow it back into town. Dave, however, suggested that I ride Skyline Blvd back in. Eric got me a GOOGLE map and they sent me on my way. Great suggestion! After 2 or 3 miles of heading uphill on McNamee I got on Skyline which wandered up and down and ultimately brought me right down into the west edge of Portland with a pretty much straight shot back to the train station. The route was about 15 miles.

Had a snack, waited around an hour or so, and got back on the train for a relaxing ride home. Got back to Seattle at 9:00 pm or so and got all hyped up riding back up the hill so that I couldn't get to sleep.

I can hardly wait to get out and ride it off road. Maybe early in the new year?

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