So Many Bikes, So Many Memories…

Further to yesterday’s post, a commenter commented thusly with the following commentary:

Chazu said…

My jaw dropped a little when I read this. Partly because I’m a slack-jawed yokel, and partly because you admitted to purchasing a crabon bike. Mostly the latter.

January 23, 2019 at 2:52 PM

Now, to be clear, this is by no means my first dalliance with the crabon.  Indeed, like any Fred, when crabon started taking over as the default race bike frame material I couldn’t wait to get my scranus on one.  And I finally attained that goal when I obtained this bicycle, which according to the Internets would have been around 2005, which sounds about right:

The bicycle was excellent.  In fact I remember my first ride on it, which–like my first ride on my latest Fred sled–was on a cold winter day, the streets stained white with road salt.  “It doesn’t get any better than this,” I remember thinking to myself, and I had nary a problem with the bike.  Nevertheless, my team soon switched to the then-new Specialized Tarmac E5:

And so I sold the Scott frame and moved my parts onto this ungodly aluminum/crabon hybrid.

I’m tempted to say the bike only looks ugly in retrospect, and that at the time it was super cool.  Alas, this is untrue, and it was as ugly then as it is now–I remember thinking so at the time.  In fact I believe I was still riding this thing when I started this blog, which explains a lot about why I chose to remain anonymous.  (My credibility as a “bike snob” would have been shot immediately had anybody known that this was my bike.)

Anyway, as I mentioned, the bike was an aluminum/crabon hybrid, the top half being crabon and the bottom half being aluminum.  And what eventually happened to pretty much every one of these bikes, including mine, was that the bond between the two materials began to corrode and separate.  And so, to their credit, in about 2007 I believe Specialized eventually replaced mine with what was at the time their top-of-the-line all-crabon Tarmac frame, which I continued to ride until just a few years ago.  Here it is in 2013, late in its tenure, its saddle bag bloated and its owner having retired from racing:

I should point out, by the way, that’s the same 10-speed Ultegra group that came on the Scott.  It still works flawlessly, and I’m currently keeping it in a bin for some future project that may very well never materialize.

This bike served me well for quite a few years.  I clung to the back of many park races on it, traversed the George Washington Bridge on it countless times, and it even took me through two (2) Rapha Gentlemen’s races–you can even see me astride it in the video for one of them:

As you can see, I was only able to finish by holding onto the videographer’s car:

Don’t worry, I promise that was the only time I smiled, and the rest of the time my visage was a mask of exquisite Rapha-esque pain.

(By the way, that was like nine years ago now.  I didn’t even have any kids!  Why I was so out of shape I have no idea.  If you don’t have any kids but are planning to make or obtain some in the near future I have only one bit of advice for you: RIDE!  RIDE LIKE THE WIND!  RIDE EVERY SPARE MOMENT YOU CAN!  Because it’ll be 20 years before you’re able to ride for more than two hours at a time.)

As for the second Gentlemen’s Race, that one was in 2013, and I rode it in Bicycling livery:

(Photo: Greg Kaplan)

By this time gravel bikes were already becoming a thing, but my aging crabon road bike accepted 28mm tires without issue and handled the course with aplomb.  (This is less true of its rider.)

So yeah, the bike served me well, but a few years ago it started making a noise and I found what could have been a crack or what could have been a scratch, I can’t be sure.  If I were a normal person I would have taken it to a shop for inspection, but as a semi-professional bike blogger who by this point had like three road bikes I instead gave the frame away during my 2016 Philly Bike Expo talk:

None of this is to disparage the bike, since: 1) It took me far and wide, as you can see; 2) I don’t even know if it was cracked; 3) If it was, I never gave Specialized a chance to make it right.
Regardless, once I gave away the frame, I had officially divested myself of the crabon, I was no longer racing, and that, I figured, was that.
But here I am, back on the crabon horse, forced to acknowledge that I am, fundamentally, a total road weenie.
And I’m okay with that.
Now go read the Bike Forecast or something.  Hey, it beats working.
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