Monday, June 28, 2010

The Search for Form, the Need for Speed and Economic Rationalisation

As I mentioned in an earlier post I am currently in the beginnings of a come back. When I will finally be back I cannot say, one thing is for sure though, it’s a long road.

Fitness is a strange concept which must be considered relative to the person striving for it. What I consider fitness may be very different to somebody who earns a living through cycling. Even the most mediocre professional cyclist is certainly going to be a lot fitter than most of us can hope to be but by the same token your average couch potato living a sedentary lifestyle would probably think that I was quite the athlete.

As I type this the rain is steadily beating down outside my window and the weather has turned decidedly Arctic (by Melbourne standards), there was once a time when I was so motivated I would have gone out in the rain and not even thought about it. Well over the years after a few too many wet, miserable training rides I started staying indoors when I could see that precipitation was imminent, as the old saying goes “rain drops, bike stops”. Somehow I don’t think Eddy Merckx ever heard of this saying. Sorry Eddy but it’s the rollers for me today.

We all find motivation in different ways, one thing that certainly enthuses me is new gear. Unfortunately I’m not well connected enough to have people throwing swag at me (unlike some other bloggers) so with this in mind I have embarked on a quest to purchase some new race wheels. I’m not going to mention any brand names but my current race wheels (a popular French mark) are over five years old and even though there is nothing wrong with them consumer culture dictates that I must upgrade to the latest greatest product. Don’t you just love being referred to as a consumer in the media? We’re not even people or citizens anymore, just consumers. I think it was Eddy Merckx who said “ride up grades don’t buy upgrades”, with that attitude its no wonder he sold his bicycle business. Apologies again Eddy.

Of course like most people in the market for bike related items my first point of call was the internet and I did what I normally do when shopping for anything. I went straight to the top of the range. All of my equipment is pretty high standard so I’m not going to ruin the aesthetic of my beautiful Italian made machine with cheap Chinese carbon am I?
As I perused the pages of an English online bicycle retailer I came across a German brand used by many top professionals, I was astonished to find that a pair of their top of the range wheels was going to cost me a whopping $6265.00 (Australian). I don’t doubt the quality of their product but does the extra speed they give me really justify their cost? Would they really be an investment in my cycling future? I doubt it. Anyway for that sort of money I could get myself to Belgium and race for about six weeks.

Next I visited my local bike shop which is something of a weekly habit for me. The social atmosphere and relaxed attitudes of the proprietors keeps me coming back, they always seem to have a funny story to tell and the service is also better than any website too. When I got there the owner was helping out a fixed gear ruffian who was looking for some deep section track wheels for the early 80’s department store ten speed he was converting (apparently he was going to grind off the pannier mounts and cable guides). He walked away satisfied with his purchase and I’m sure the finished build is going to look great in whichever pastel colour he was going to paint it. I then learned that the retail price on a very nice pair of Italian race wheels was around the $5000.00 mark, cheaper for me because I’m such a great guy. I must say I am quite taken by these race wheels. I call them race wheels but I continually see people out “training” with them on a popular beach front road frequented by local cyclists. My guess is they do it for the show off factor or a keeping up with the Joneses type scenario. Whatever makes you happy I suppose but in my opinion such nice wheels should be kept somewhere safe and only see the light of day when you intend pinning a number on your back.

In any case I still can’t afford the price so it looks like I will be sticking with my old wheels for a while longer. More research is in order but as I will be going away on a short country holiday this week (not a secret training camp) the research will have to wait till I get back.

I’ll keep you posted.


  1. Hi Mr. Muse, I am a fan of your blog and also keeps my work mates amused for hours all avid hubbards of the humble bike! Just a quick question on a previous post relating to both the Giro and TDF, what are your thoughts on what Lance Armstrong said recently claiming the Giro is becoming insignificant compared to the rise of the Tour of California? Your humor would be much appreciated!

  2. Thank you for your comment Anonymous, I will address your issue ina future post