Not all roads lead to where one expects. My journey to the joys of the pavement came from very unexpected places, and opened a world of new opportunities.
It all started so innocently…With a gift.
The gift: a 2006 Lemond Versailles road bike. Now, let me say that this wasn’t some garage show queen that was bequeathed to me. Rather, it was a tired steed missing some very key elements – like, wheels. The bike had belonged to Justin, my boss at Jenson USA, a gentleman that is famous for logging a lot of miles, and not being too keen on maintenance. Let’s just say that the parts I did get still had remnants of sweat and a mystery goo that I told myself was an energy gel. Even with that, I still feel that I got the better end of the deal.
I didn’t shoot any photos of the original bike because I was so shameful about owning a road bike. This one is much lovelier than mine was.
Justin had given the frame, fork, and some parts to me as payment for helping him sell an old Yeti ASR. This deal was hatched on the premise that I was moving back to Indiana to start the next chapter of my life. This chapter contained the fact that Indiana gets rain; and, even as I write this, a lot of rain. Here I was, a dirt junkie, staring down the barrel of losing the miles of dry dirt that lay out from my back door in Southern California. I knew Indiana had some great riding, but I also knew that when the rains arrived the gates closed on the trails. I needed my two wheeled outlet, so the horse-trade on the Lemond was negotiated, and I walked away with an American made, yellowish go-fast buggy.
From this outside my backdoor in SoCal…
… to this outside my backdoor in Indiana.
The first thing I did, after I explained to my wife that I hadn’t bought another bike, was go to town with strong cleaning agents and brushes. I was left with an ugly, baby food yellow frame and fork, and a few parts with some life remaining. I couldn’t take the color(s), of the bike, so out came the masking tape and spray paint. With the assistance of Stone IPA and Krylon, I painted what could have otherwise become a collectors item in the garage of our condo. This reaffirmed that alcohol can lead to questionable decisions. I made this decision because, at the time, I planned to turn the Lemond into a single speed, flat bar cruiser. At this time in my life, I had completed three, 500 mile bicycle tours, and logged plenty of miles not on dirt. Though those experiences were great, I sure as hell would never have considered plunking down my hard-earned cash on a road bike let alone building it up the “proper” roadie way.
Stone Brewing still fueling good times and bad decisions
Knowing it was Spring, I finished loading the Jeep to make the drive back to Indiana, and the “road” bike was thrown on the rack. It wasn’t quite finished yet as I’d run into a few snags along the way. I had bought some wheels for a song, and they turned out to have a proprietary Shimano Ultegra freehub body that wasn’t compatible with a single speed cog and spacer kit. Thus, the Lemond made the 3,000 mile trek back to the Midwest as a rolling chassis with an uncertain destiny. At this time I was not sure what the future would hold for this bike, and if it would remain in my stable. After my wife joined me back in Indiana and we were unpacking, I came upon some of my old boxes of bike parts. In those boxes were a few stray Ultegra road parts including the cassette needed for the proprietary freehub body. It was like a bike version of the Cinderella story. So, a reluctant decision was made to build a proper road buggy.
The Road Orphan build
A few favors were called in to obtain the remaining parts needed for the build, and then a bike was reborn. A proper road bike is what I ended up with. Almost full Ultegra 10 speed, 28c tires, Salsa Cowbell drop bars, two bottle cages, and some trusty old SPD pedals. It actually turned out pretty nice considering it almost ended up as a series of bad decisions and a trip to the swap meet. 19 lbs of steel and carbon freedom and speed were now in my possession… and I was enjoying it. Leaving my house in baggy shorts and SPD’s and venturing out onto the roads and paths that I had ridden on in my past rekindled a sense of adventure that I had been missing. Was this what road riding was about?
Midwest fields can be a thing of beauty
Riding different bikes changes how you perceive the world
Try changing your perspective
I had to eat crow. I, a former die-hard dirt rider, am enjoying all types of riding now. I enjoy the pace that I can click off miles on a true road bike, I love the freedom that a cross bike opens up with being able to try anything around you, and I still live for the dirt ribbon. Don’t let a predisposed idea of what a particular style of riding is about let you miss out on a potential joy. Try it. Borrow a bike, grab your gear, and see what all the fuss is about. I promise, any ride on any type of bike is better than no ride at all.
No road left unexplored on my CX bike
Why not try a tandem?
Still love me some good dirt terrain
I’m still not a leg-shaving, lite beer drinking, lycra clad roadie; however, I have come to appreciate a fine stretch of road laid out in front of me with no set course and a few hours to kill. The feel of the burn pushing the hardest gear I can to see what lay around the next turn has become intoxicating to me, and I look forward to the next time I get to grab my “road” bike from the hook and set my eyes on the horizon.