I remember my first triathlon. I rode a mountain bike with knobby tires and thought nothing of it. As I got more into the sport I began to have some serious bike envy. It always seemed to me that I was getting passed by athletes with better equipment. My first upgrade was to get thin tires for my mountain bike. Now racers on road bikes were passing me. I made the serious plunge and purchased road bike. Now racers on road bikes with aero bars were passing me. I bought aero bars and put them on the road bike. Now racers on TT bikes were passing me and my bike didn’t fit…at least not in the aero position.
So three months ago I decided to take the biggest plunge and buy a TT bike. I started at the local bike shops. Surprise: nobody sells TT bikes. Sure they have glossy catalogue photos of the boys on the Tour with their teardrop helmets peddling space-age bikes to unbelievable average speeds. And yes I can purchase the very same bike for a mere $5000.00 with a few month wait. How about a test ride first? No go unless you happen to be in the store four months ago when they had one TT bike for sale. It turns out that this bike was just purchased by a Peruvian triathlete visiting the States.
Lesson #1: Bike shops may sell TT bikes but they don’t stock them.
So I kept looking and hoping, and my bike envy grew with each race over the summer. I noticed that all the best racers had one thing in common. Their bikes ended with an O….you know like in Cervelo, Campagnolo, Sorrento, Bosso, and so on. So I began my search for the perfect O bike.
I decided I had to have a Cervelo. I had seen the boys on the Tour riding this fine machine plus it had the coveted O. I went to my local Cervelo dealer, an upscale bike shop, and asked in hopeful voice if I could test ride a bike. No Go. This bike shop prided itself on building the perfect bike. The salesman was shocked that I would even consider buying off-the-rack. You see the factory supplied, “ummm how best to explain this” he said “low quality wheels” (read crappy) and that the bike shop could not in good conscious sell me something with such shoddy wheels. They only use the best: Zipp wheels. They’d be happy to use the Cervelo frame but it had to have Zipp wheels. “Ok” I said, “sound reasonable to me. “How much are the Zipp wheels?” Only $1600 he said with a slight knowing grin. I did my best impression of a heart attack and staggered out the front door. $1600 was my entire bike budget.
Lesson #2: Any level of TT bike will automatically cost $500 more and come with lesser components than the same bike in road form.
I went back to the computer and the Cervelo web site and found a dealer a mere hour from my house…that’s without traffic. I called the dealer just South of Denver and to my amazement they had a large selection of Cervelos in stock and ready to ride. That weekend I jumped on the highway and made my way to their shop. When I walked in I though I had gone to Tri heaven. They had something like 20 TT bikes to choose from including about 8 Cervelos. I grabbed my credit card and headed to the counter. The Tri department was manned by a little round man who was busy giving advice to a newbie gal renting a wetsuit for the upcoming Danskin triathlon. “It should be very tight,” he was telling this young lady as she turned purple. Her head was about to either explode, or shoot out like a watermelon seed between the fingers of a nasty nine-year-old.
I waited my turn. The next women in line wasn’t doing much better. Her ample breasts were not wetsuit friendly and the clerk seemed to be amused by her predicament. After a short lecture on why she needed a sleeveless wetsuit he turned to me and said “what do you need?” I said some help with the bikes. He said OK and that he’d call someone to come and help.
I sheepishly asked if it was OK to take a bike for a spin, to which I took his non-reply as a yes. My bike envy was boiling and I was so close to my perfect O bike that I could taste it. I picked the appropriate Cervelo (read within my budget) and headed out the door for a test ride. I mounted the perfect O bike full of expectation of my very first ride. I was going to be the first and only one to ride this bike. WOW! I straddled the bike and stepped on the pedal. Nothing happened. I looked down. The bike had no pedals.
“Ahhhh,” I yelled in desperation and took the bike back.
The pudgy clerk was now huffing and puffing trying to wrestle the tight wet suit from the first women. He had just managed to pull her, not the wet suit, off the chair with a big thud. All the other sales people in the shop were very busy doing everything but helping customers. You know like stocking shelves, talking on the phone, filling out long mysterious forms, changing prices, and fixing the cash register. We, the customers, were all just standing around with our thumbs in our “you know what.” I had had enough. I pulled mine thumb out and stormed out the door.
Lesson #3 There is nothing worse than not being able to have the perfect O bike.
(End of part 2)