Monday, March 26

Midlife Crisis of a hobby

September 2006, Rosarito Mexico. "We gots to do this next year Marc" Frank exclaimed, referring to the Annual Rosarito-Ensinada 50 Mile Bike Ride. "50 miles, uhmm okay" i said stoically, although not quite certain how serious a proposition it was. You wouldn't normally associate Frank with any type of physical exertion you see... Not surprisingly, not a word about the proposition was said for the next several months. Then, a few weeks ago Frank sort of alluded to the fact that we should be training for the upcoming Rosarito-Ensinada Bike Event in September. This allusion surprised me more than Frank will ever know. I considered not taking him seriously not because of his weight issue but his dedication to the would be Bike Ride if i were to involve myself to this rather un-Frank like proposition. Big guys ride Bikes too... You see Frank never really sounds serious about anything even when he is being serious. In fact he sounds even more frivolous when he is serious...

However, the fact that he even brought it up again was enough to kick start this venture. To some degree i guess he was serious... Hmmm maybe he really wants to do this thing, i pondered. Alright let us start researching for Bikes, i told him-- sounding almost convinced. After a couple of weeks of researching Bike options online we still had uncertainties that only an avid rider or Bike Techie can clear up. Frank was quite worried about his weight and the possibility of breaking stuff, not to mention his lack of confidence on his ability to ride a Bike which he likes to mention often. I ignored this a lot because they say you never really forget, right? (more on this later). At that point we also haven't figured out the right budget for the Bike. Somehow i came up with $800.00 and Frank $600.00. We soon realized after looking at Mountain Bike websites that our initial budget idea was on the low end side of the spectrum. Frank and i discussed this budget for quite some time and the more we read Bike Reviews and online Forums the more the Bike Budget seemed to swell up. Then there was the matter of Bike Brands too which was yet another cause for debate between Frank and I. You see for guys like us who'd done enough research and consultations with techies and avid riders, unless we bought a $5K Bike we couldn't possibly be happy with the components of the Bike. Either we spend all our money or purchase a good base Bike and upgrade the components. Either way we could never be really happy with anything, we realized. We just had to make a good decision and stick with it...

Anyway, after all the rigamarole, it was time to get down to brass tax. It was then a matter of which Bike gave us more Bike for our money, bang for our buck you know. To help matters i decided on a deadline for the Bike Purchase. And a few days before the deadline i was able to decide on a bike (but had to special order it) while Frank was torn between 9 different Bikes still. It was the best he could do apparently... Eventually, after a few Bike Shop trips Frank went with an American Bike, the Trek X8 (they even have a series of Mountain Bikes called "Top Fuel". Not that they only go a quarter mile or anything...). He actually drove to San Diego to get this Bike. This is saying a lot about his dedication, does it not? Anyway, without getting too technical, the X8 is a 27-speed Full Suspension Trail Bike with front and rear remote poplocks. Me on the other hand, i went with a Giant Reign 3 that is on sale (originally $1799.00). The Bike is not a Trail Bike like Frank's. It is an All-Mountain version that has all the same features but boast quite a bit more of travel in the suspensions (130 mm front and 150 mm rear) for the real gnarly stuff. It lacks the X8's ultra cool front and rear poplocks though... But not to be outdone i upgraded the to the All-Mountain Fork Rock Shox Recon which is actually more expensive than my truck's shocks (4 of them combined) and pedals that cost twice as much as my Civic's Break Pads (but it's titanium man). Basically, between the Bike plus upgrades, the gear, and the Bike Rack, i spent over three times more than my initial intended budget. Awesome huh?

Since Frank was not so confident in his ability, i took him to the only place i know with a paved Bike Trail and no elevation changes whatsoever, Balboa Park. It's about the easiest trail known to Bikers in the San Fernando Valley. I mean seriously, you'd be more prone to crashing if you rode in your own backyard. About the only obstacle there is dodging that little girl on a Pink BMX with a pouch on the handle bars. Nevertheless, Frank was not convinced he could stay on his Bike for no more than a minute at a time. After a long and much needed pep talk in the parking lot Frank mustered enough courage to finally get on the $2K bike. He flailed around for the first few feet then was able to gain control over the vigorous Mountain Bike after picking up some speed. It was like watching a newborn giraffe struggle under its own weight on National Geographic hahaha. He stopped and repeated this process several times.

I didn't have that much fun either because 4 miles into my ride around Balboa's man-made lake my tires went kaput. I couldn't help trailing off the rather smooth path especially in the north side of the trail that is adjacent to a runoff into this hilly dirt road that leads to a construction site (or something). I mean come on i'm riding a full suspension All-Mountain Bike after all, i'm suppose to go off trail. Except this dirt trail isn't ideal for bikes, even All-Mountains because evidently it's ladened with thorns and freakin' spikes or something because my front tires suddenly popped no more than 50 yards downhill into the enticing dirt road... I had to jump out of the Bike real quick so as not strain the front rims with the weight shift and possibly break it. I admit though, going off the reservation was exhilarating even though it was short lived. I can now imagine how Riders find such joy and passion in the sport... I realized to that the sticky mountain tires aren't ideal for the road but works amazingly on dirt like the Lunar Roving Vehicle (this means we'll need road tires for Mexico). Anyway I had to walk the rest of the way back to the parking lot (about 3 miles... piece of cake right? Not!).

When i got back around the parking lot i found Frank waiting by my truck still straddling his Trail Bike like he was 7 miles before (i think its actually 9 miles around). He seemed somewhat happy with his day although i think he could have done better.

Well, my day was shot, Frank rode maybe like 200 yards in 2 hours, it wasn't much of a day i have to say... Then, as if to offer some discordant words of wisdom to conclude our day, Frank suggested we should be driving sports cars instead of riding Mountain Bikes for this midlife crisis of a hobby. Shit!