At Year’s End

Although I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to do this year, I did ride more. I made some good friends. I made myself happy. And I found some good things in the world of cycling that I’d like to recommend to everyone.

Here’s my list, in no particular order:

SRAM Rival and Doubletap
I must concur with the other high opinions I’ve seen–SRAM Rival is the best new group out there. After examining Campy Record for a new Cinelli Supercorsa build, I just couldn’t throw on a bunch of black, plasticky carbon bits. Campy offered NOTHING in their current lineup to match the finish of Rival. Glad I did it, too. I absolutely love Doubletap. It’s the best shifting solution for the brake/shifter combination, and the only thing that pulled me away from the down-tube friction shifter.

Brooks Swallow saddles
2007 was my year of saddle experimentation. After growing a giant a$$, seatpost height, shoe/pedal combination and saddle composition became hot topics for me. Although I’d tried the Pro, I always found the high back a bit too much for me. This year, the Specialized Alias and Toupe were installed and removed after causing numbness, the Selle Italia SLR Gel Flow was enjoyed but still removed, and the Brooks Swallow became de rigeur for all my bikes. It’s narrow enough and table-top flat, which makes for an excellent ride for the rider who moves around a bit and really just wants something to support him. Exchange rates and fuel costs have Brooks prices skyrocketing, but for a saddle that will last for a lifetime of comfort, it’s worth it to me.

Mike Garcia wheels
I now own 3 wheelsets made by Mike Garcia. Mike is a trustworthy and talented wheelbuilder who’s always ready to chat about cycling. I wish his shop was closer to Tallahassee. He was happy to deal with my requests, including a bit of NOS wheelbuilding, and his builds all turned out strong and attractive.

Garmin 305
I hate wires on bikes. Garmin’s Edge 305 was the ideal solution for me, to keep up with mileage and obviate the need for lots of wires and zip ties. Plus, with a mount for every bike, it’s a simple matter to switch bikes. Although their cadence mount isn’t as useful as I’d hoped–I just don’t care, apparently, the unit receives a firm A in my book. I’ll be among the first to buy the new 705, and I’m looking forward to the improved mapping capabilities. Now, if someone would just add a power unit to this device…

Thomson seatposts and stems
I broke a seatpost this year and swore off carbon forever…well, at least Ritchey carbon seatposts. My new Gary V Titanio has a 30mm seattube. Thomson makes a perfect fit. The new stem and seatpost are attractive, light, and strong enough for the aforementioned fat a$$ to feel comfortable and secure. Thus far, I’ve gone all-Thomson on the Gary V and my Surly Pugsley, and I can’t see me buying another brand…ever.

Surly Pugsley
Until March, I owned a 1988 Schwinn Sierra mountainbike that I built as an employee of a bike shop. I just wasn’t interested in riding off road, until I fell in with an MTB-heavy group a few years ago. After much prodding, I started shopping the MTBs a bit, but just couldn’t work up a lot of enthusiasm. Then, I saw my first Pug. Wow. It’s a weird bike, and I knew that it was just…ME. Fully-rigid, purple, 4-inch tires, and interchangeable front-and-rear wheels make it stand out in any crowd. Add the coffee-cup bell and a sprung Brooks Flyer and it’s perfect. A real gas to ride, the Pug floats over anything, even sandy-bottomed washouts so common around Tallahassee and my South Georgia farms. Plus, it’s involved me in more conversations than any other bike I’ve ever owned–from Barbeque-cooking old men to people in traffic–everyone wants to know about “that wild bike.” Get one. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Higher Ground Bicycle Company, Tallahassee
Todd, Michelle, Roger, Ryan, Tyler, Jason, Mike, Jeremy, Dave, and everyone who comes and goes at both of the Tallahassee shops are great friends and riding partners. From tequila shots to gel shots, we’ve done it all this year. Thanks a bunch for inspiring me to ride more and for always having a comfy couch and an open door to satisfy my old shop-monkey cravings.