1 December 2008


Yes, it's sad (and strange) but true: my days are spent flicking between three websites, in no particular order: Felt Bicycles, Facebook, and Sephora.

The sad thing about this is that all three rarely change. Sure, I have the occasional obnoxious comment left on Facebook - most recently by Briar who wonders why anyone would be concerned that her little sister comes home most weekends without any money, cellphone, or idea what happened. Um, THAT's why. Because it happens ALL the time. But generally speaking, these websites go unchanged. Sephora, for example, is on my hitlist solely so I can gaze at makeup and other products I can't buy until I next visit America. And let's be honest, by the time I get to Sephora, I'm not going to have any money to buy the entire skincare range by Skyn Iceland and still get change so I can buy a couple of Donuts to sustain my shopping energy.

Especially so if I get to a store with Felt bicycles before I hit Sephora. I buy bikes and bike-related equipment like some girls I know buy handbags. Felt is my current obsession, and I'll be the first to admit that before that, there was Specialized, Gary Fisher, and I think maybe even Pinarello. That would have been a while ago. Felt sponsor the machines that my favourite (and previously mentioned ad nauseum) team, Garmin Chipotle ride. I shouldn't even really be in the market for any new bikes, owing to the fact that in my garage right now is more than $10,000 worth of bikes. That's not even my whole collection either, just the painstakingly weeded-out ones from my home stable. I still feel bad about leaving Gary behind, but I've got to say the Jamis is serving me well. That's not the point though... it's never about money with bikes. I have a 2008 Specialized Safire FSR which I'm still getting the hang of, but love more than life itself, a 2007 Avanti Carbonio 2.0 - it could be considered my least favourite of all my bikes, but it does the job for now, and of course the Jamis - a 2007 Coda. In my home collection (I love how that sounds), there's a 2005 Apollo Marathon which is truly a piece of crap but one that has sentimental value given that I got it for cheap from Dave at Cycle Surgery in Dunedin and then proceeded to ride it EVERYWHERE, including up Stuart Street every day to Moana Pool, while I was a freshman at the University of Otago. It later became my sole mode of transport at Canterbury, which included late night rides in my Hoyts uniform down Riccarton Road. The Apollo was left at home in favour of the Jamis, mainly because the Jamis is yellow and new, and also because I don't think I reconnected the front brake correctly after I threw it into a bush at QE2. Don't tell my mum.

Gary, as he is colloquially known to most of the people I know, is obviously a Gary Fisher. He's pre-2000, though what year he is exactly remains a mystery. My dad bought him for me in 2001, third-hand from CycleTime in Hamilton, and it was with Gary that I embarked on my shaky at first, and eventually illustrious (I wish) mountain bike racing career. Gary is an Aquila - a model the original Gary Fisher doesn't even make anymore. He was my first bike with suspension - about 80mm, I think, and I rode him to many 2nd-place finishes at the Hamilton MTB Club Summer Series this past season. I'm still contemplating bringing him up next time I go back to Cowtown, mainly so I can have the joy of hanging with an old friend. I fear he may get left behind on my Woodhill excursions though. The Ariel 143 saddle on the Safire is just too much like a couch. Still, I claim Gary is insured for more than me.

Yet another old friend that got left behind in the great exodus was a mostly-unused old Haro from 1999 or before. I inherited it off some friends after I broke one of the pegs dropping in on a ramp in 2001, and having close to no BMX skills, it only came out on rare occasions. One such example was kind of recently (if the dent still evident above my knee is anything to go by) at Woodhill, when for some reason during a high-speed approach to a XXX grade stunt, I decided to attempt a backflip. I wondered why afterwards, when I hit the ground knees first and left handlebar imprints on my thighs. Seriously, it hurt so bad I nearly threw up, but I wasn't about to leave it like that. No, the voice of Aubrey sounded inside my ever-irrational mind: "you can do anything you put your mind to." So I tried again, this time with an even faster run-up, and I succeeded. I assure you, it was some sort of miracle, influence by the mind, and it will never happen again, but I did it. I then immediately rode back to my car and swapped bikes - the temptation of the skills garden was too much for my newly-inflated ego. As for the haematoma I got left with, well I don't mind. Makes a good story, even if it's not very believable.

And now onto my current stable, starting of course with my reason for living: the Safire. Saving for this baby was my one goal when I started my job at Campus Computers more than a year ago. And save I did. By March, along with a much-appreciated grant from the Cerebral Palsy Society, I was driving home with the Safire on the back seat of my Honda. It was a great day for me. It was also the day after the final HMTB Summer race, but at least that gave Gary one last hurrah. Actually, from memory, XTERRA may have been the Safire (or Artemis)'s christening. And what a day to choose. Not only had I forgone the almost-compulsory preriding of the course, I was doing it on a brand new machine. In fact, the brakes were still so clean from the factory that they protested for the first half of the race. After that, it annoyed me so much I went without (which is how I ended up with the dent in my shin, but again, I'm happy about it). Since XTERRA, Artemis has accompanied me on many outings, including the pre-Moonride solo six-hour jaunt I did two weeks before the fact, and most of it with a dislocated wrist, the Moonride itself (12 hours in close to unrideable mud, but it was fucking awesome all the same), three N-DURO races - broke a spoke on the Pig Track during the second race, but I just kept riding anyway, and on some pretty gnarly lines through Woodhill forest. The only complaint I have with Artemis is her colours. Especially given that the 2009 model is black & bronze. I'm 100% stoked with her though, she's easily the best bike-related purchase I've ever made.

My Avanti Carbonio was one of those bikes where I knew pretty well while I was still paying for it that I didn't want. What I really wanted was a Specialized Ruby, but even that was kind of questionable, in navy blue and with odd little frangipani decals. Okay, I get that it's a girls' bike, but like, flowers? Really? Anyway, the Avanti was more within my price range (what was I saying about money not being an object for bike enthusiasts) and apparently had better componentry. I still refute this claim, especially when I'm attempting to boost it, a la Jan Ullrich, up hills on East Coast Road and my gears slip. It didn't help that when Jordan was fixing it, he disdainfully referred to the drivetrain as a "cheap piece of shit".
It's carbon, which is nice, but apart from that, poor Othello doesn't have much going for it. The saddle for one was a dealbreaker. Seriously, when you're on a 200km ride and you feel like childbirth has got nothing on this, you know it's time for a new saddle. Of course, the cost of said new saddle kind of defeated the point of settling for the Avanti over the Specialized, and is no Ariel 143, but that's okay. It'll be up on TradeMe soon enough, and I'll buy a Jett 143 instead.

Which leaves me with the final bike that was selected to move with me: the Jamis. This bike was probably the second-easiest sale Ritchie's ever made - the first being a guy who walked in while I was still considering which Orca suit to go with, and bought a bike for his son straight off the shop floor. I take a ferry to school with a guy who rides a sharp Cannondale with a full rig, or an equally fancy Look to work. I know what he's thinking when he looks at the Jamis, and that's "my bike is better than hers". True, although this is just because I have real worries about leaving either of my other bikes locked up in Tangihua Street while I'm at school. He probably has his bike sitting in the office with him, wherever he works - that's definitely the only reason I would ever take Artemis to work. That or my job was working at Whistler. Sigh. I can dream.
It's kind of funny because although the Jamis is just a commuter, it's worth more and has better specs than a lot of hardtails I see around. It truly is a top-of-the-line little number, and I'm particularly stoked that it's yellow. I feel quite content turning up for the ferry ten minutes early so I can ride around the carpark. I don't care what fancy-pants Mr Cannondale has to say about it.

Why then, do I spend my time poring over bikes that would set me back more money than I've ever earnt, total, to import? It's a cyclist thing, I guess. These Felts are sweet rides. I'm actually thinking of riding XTERRA next year on a hardtail, and the Felt SixTeam or SixElite are just so tempting. The womens' specific ZW1 for road is a likely replacement for the Avanti, hopefully sooner rather than later. Admittedly, they do look rather similar, but hopefully the high-end componentry will impress Jordan a bit more than my current ride. After all, that's what life is all about!

Felt's 2009 ZW1: Perfect for break-neck speed descents
of Deep Creek Road in Torbay

Eventually I'm looking at getting into track racing, which will require a new bike anyway, so I guess a rational thinker would reason that I could get a Felt for the drome and retain the Avanti for road training. For now though, I think I'll just visit fb.com every day. Just in case I win Powerball this weekend.

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