Today’s post was supposed to go in a very different direction, but I read a great post written by a younger fella who stumbled into road cycling like I did… after finding mountain biking, first. His post inspired me…
Mountain biking is fantastic in that you don’t have to worry about traffic, even on the road because you can always ride on the gravel shoulder should you want to get off the asphalt and there’s no traffic other than bicycles and pedestrians on mtb trails. Many start there for that reason alone. As an added bonus, you don’t much have to worry about how you dress unless you really want to because the mountain biking culture is more laid back.
Road cycling is a different animal altogether. You get the aloof of the aloof cyclists. The pro looking, matching kits. The hyper-expensive, ultra-lightweight bikes (though don’t get me wrong, a full carbon mountain bike is just as much as a top-end road bike). You get the ridiculously high 7″ long socks (I don’t know how they became cool). You get the logos on the tires matching up with the presta valve stem on the wheels, the cable housings cut to an exact and specific length, the perfect saddle to handlebar drop… and about a hundred-forty rules that govern everything from saddle bags to shaving one’s legs (if you care to follow any of them – I follow most, with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek).
Does all of that crap really matter, though?
Folks, I’m so nitpicky, I went to the trouble of special-ordering a black anodized seat post collar for the Trek because I didn’t like how the original natural aluminum colored seat post collar looked on the bike after I had it painted:
I swapped the brakes on the Specialized when I found a black and red FSA set that was the perfect shade of red to match the bike (and I put the 105 brakes on my wife’s bike because she was in desperate need of some decent brakes):
Even the pedals match on the Venge!
So, the question is, is all of that bull$#!+ worth the effort?
The easy, quick answer is absolutely, it’s worth the effort… even if it’s entirely unnecessary.
That’s right, my friends. Entirely unnecessary. There’s only one person on this whole planet, out of something like 7-1/2 billion, that would pick out the aluminum seat post collar on the Trek as sticking out like a sore thumb. This guy. Okay, maybe two (and I happen to know the other one – Dave), but the owner of the local shop spent so much time trying to talk me out of ordering the part, he actually burned up what little profit he’d have made had he just ordered it!
After it’s all done and I’m sitting there trying to pick out which bike I want to ride and I can’t decide because they’re both awesome, but I choose the Trek because there’s a 10% chance of rain and it’s going to be an easier pace – then I don my perfectly matching kit and my 5″ Trek Segafredo socks and my expertly matched Kask Mojito helmet, then slip on my almost orange shoes (because someone at Specialized is a freaking idiot, but the shoes work, strangely)… There’s something to the notion that you ride fast when you feel fast. You ride well when you look good (curse you, English – it should be ride good, look good, but I just can’t bring myself to do it). It’s all mental, of course, but it’s there.
The final judgment is, going to the trouble of matching bikes, components, and kit is entirely unnecessary and absolutely worth the effort.