You like that catch line? Could you tell what it's going to be about? Well you're reading my blog again, so it worked! Right now I'm reminiscing on the process and the choices that led me to my choice in my beautiful new race bike for the 2011 season. The bike that as I try to surpass what I once was, and rise up to a new level of competition, will be a great partner as I try my best at my favourite sport again.
But what bike will roll as my first mate? And respond to my captainship? Additionally, who is going to sponsor a guy who will have taken more than a year and a half off racing? Because let's face it, I can't afford to be an elite cyclist.
After getting the doctor's word on being able to race again (I am still very highly at risk, but it is important not to live in a bubble - just don't expect another miracle recovery) I made my first phonecall to Johnny, the guy who organizes the team I had raced for. He's a great guy who always has my best interest in mind, and also is the xprezo sales rep in Ontario. Of course he was stoked to hear I'm back at it, and quickly started seeing what he could do for a bike.
We checked with Cycle Solutions, I would have been able to get a *pretty good* deal on brands that they sell (Specialized, Giant, Kona, Yeti, Santa-Cruz...), but an impoverished university student is looking for a REALLY good deal (not that I actually deserve one - these guys are amazing for supporting me through my year off cycling, and I'm excited to say I race as a part of their team).
This bike not only has to be the right price, but come on! If I'm getting a sweet new bike to pour my effort into the sport with once again it had better be a nice bike! Everything the way I want it! You just can't do this with big companies..
I found out that xprezo was having a demo day at Buckwallow (a cycling trail system near my house in Bracebridge) on Hallowe'en weekend, and if I came, showed interest, and showed I can ride a bike properly - there was a shot at getting a deal. I was also excited that my friend Jac wanted to get into riding, and she might earn a spot on the team. So we traveled to Bracebridge, Derek, Jac and I in a Volkswagen campervan, in cold October, to go ride new bikes and show our worth!
Have you ever ridden with the guy who built your bike? Chances are no. They are likely from Taiwan, and don't have the opportunity to ride like us, building bikes is a job, not a passion. If your bike was built by some cool Canadians from Quebec who speak kind of funny, but are always grinning, and helping out at races, chances are they're actually pretty fast too. These guys were great to ride with! And so were their bikes!
The thing with Xprezo is that they're "Oldschool", keepin' it real with steel. I fell in love with the feeling of their T-29: it is a full steel 29" wheel bike (as opposed to the conventional 26") made by hand in Bromont Quebec. This thing was sweet. Myself being a pretty tall dude, I can handle a 29er (so far) in the trails, and I think I will have the power to push those heavier wheels around too. The 29 inch wheeled bike was tougher to turn because of a high centre of gravity, but if I learned how to turn nicely, it would keep its momentum and just roll where ever I pointed it it seemed. Testing was a dream. I surprised myself and some others while riding, and the guys at xprezo were happy to speak with someone in Ontario who is actually bilingual.
Whether it is because of my riding, or just their generosity, we ended up working out a deal.
I'm riding for xprezo.
Got myself suited up on a SWEET T-29 bike with my choice of every component, colour (orange bike, white stickers, and all white components), and know that I have some people with a real passion for biking and compassion for athletes supporting me. I feel so lucky to have this opportunity, and kind of danced when I ordered the bike...Like this
The bike is coming in the next few days, I can't wait to see her! This is so exciting! I'll keep you posted on what happens!