Today's post is brought to you by the letters B-I-K-E.
Two years ago when I first got into triathlon, I remember thinking I would just buy a bike from Target or a used bike and give that a whirl for my first sprint tri. One of my friends who knows me well suggested, respectfully, that that was a really dumb idea. Knowing me, I'd get hooked on tris and then have to buy a nice road bike anyway, and I'd be stuck with this other bike that I did not want or need. So, I followed his advice and got a road bike from the start. I was not a biker and had no real aspirations to be a biker, aside from what I needed to do in a tri. I shopped around at a few local bike shops and ended up buying my Trek Lexa at a local chain store and the experience was fine. When the bike came in, the "fit" took about 10 minutes and consisted of me sitting/standing over the bike and the guy adjusting the seat. After being in the tri world for awhile, I realized that I needed a more custom fit, and it was time to add aerobars to the bike (more in a second). Friends suggested I check out Philadelphia Bikesmith in Philly, and so one late October afternoon, Amy, Bill and I spent a few hours there. As dumb as this sounds, I knew by the logo that I'd love it. For a font geek like me, this was a very good omen.
One recurring theme with my experiences at other bike shops prior to the experience at Philly Bikesmith was a sort of air of smugness and bike-snobbery -- it almost felt like the guys at the other shops felt like I was wasting their time and was kind of an idiot who had no business being on a bike. It was obvious that I was/am a newbie (or "noob") and I definitely felt that way and out of my league. Bikes are pretty complicated, at least in my opinion, and riding and maintaining them isn't exactly simple. Now, granted, one time I was
kind of completely dumb when I went in thinking my tire had a slow leak, only to learn that I was not actually pumping air into it. But that experience aside, I always felt a little judged.
Enter Philadelphia Bikesmith! From the moment we walked in to the moment we left, they were awesome. Fun, really smart, totally cool and non-judgmental and extremely helpful. And awesome. And I'm not just saying that because they gave us free Hop Devil at the end of the fitting (did I mention Victory sponsors their shop? Hello!)
|the guys: Richie, Max [who did my fit], Lucas and Sam|
It was a three hour process to get fitted, which shows me how inadequate/non-existent my prior bike "fit" was. In those three hours, I got a new seat (and it was like Goldilocks and the Three [hundred] Seats ... I must have tried on at least ten before finding the seat that was just right), a proper fit, new tape on the handlebars (to match the bike!) and aerobars. Aerobars, for those who don't know, are handles that stick out of the front of the bike that triathletes use to improve their aerodynamic position on the bike. Most seasoned triathletes have them, and with Ironman Lake Placid not so far away, it was high time I got them too. Here I am getting fitted.
I whole-heartedly recommend Philadelphia Bikesmith to anyone looking for a bike or to get fitted for a bike. They know what they are doing and their service is tremendous. Max, my fitter, told me repeatedly if something did not feel right, bring the bike back and they would tweak it. The price you pay for the fit is a one-time deal, which is great. And they mean what they say: Amy has been back to get a replacement for something and they were great about it.
I've named my bike. And her name is ... drumroll ... Tiny Ma'am. The name was also a product of Philadelphia Bikesmith. At 5'1", I have a very diminutive bike. It's 47 cm, which is probably not much larger than a kid's bike. I take a lot of chiding from pretty much everyone about the size of my bike. Bill calls it the "adorable" bike. Bill and Amy joked that when we do tris together it looks like the bikes belonging to parents and their kid are on the rack (this is true). My adorable bike was not large enough to fit on my other friend/coworker's bike rack when we did the City to Shore bike ride (agh - I need to blog about that!). So when we showed up at Philly Bikesmith, it was of course hilarious when Sam walked over to my bike and said, "Ok, let me get started on this tiny bike." Throughout the afternoon, they called my bike the "little bike" "petite bike" and even "dainty bike". I took issue with "dainty" - tiny, small, little I may be, but dainty, I am not. But mostly, they liked Sam's "tiny bike" the best and used that one the most. At the end of our fit, I approached Sam to ask where the trashcan was and he said, "yes, Ma'am?" at which point I said, "No. Please do not call me that" and without missing a beat he said, "I'm sorry. Tiny Ma'am." Hi.lar.i.ous. Whereupon, I named my bike "Tiny Ma'am." And here she is!
I've ridden Tiny Ma'am (ok sounds dirty) and I love it. The seat feels great, my position on the bike is so much better and more efficient. The aerobars make a huge difference too! I am getting used to being more forward and higher up on the bike, but it seems to be getting more comfortable each time I am on the bike.
I really love the blue tape on the handlebars. I figure if I'm going to be on the sucker for 112 miles, I might as well like what I see.
See you swoon,