Oh, yes, if a guy can be vain, I am. But not really in the usual ways. I mean, having a blog is a bit vain, especially when I seem to only write about me and my issues. And sure, I check myself out in the mirror these days to see if the gut is really going away or if I am delusional. I also find that I will occasionally look down at my legs as I am pedalling and find myself shocked that the legs that are under me are really my own. They look more and more like real cyclists legs as the summer goes on. So I am feeling pretty darn good about myself, at least physically. Mentally--well we won't go there. There are days that I feel a bit mentally fragile and down, but that is mostly related to my legal job prospects.
But one of the main sources of my vanity comes from my bikes--especially my cross bikes. And of my two cross bikes my number one is the Curtlo. Sure the Lapierre is sexy and rides nice, but it is still unproven in battle. The Curtlo...yeah it is pretty well dialed and when cross season comes it will probably be the choice for 2 out of every 3 courses. The uglier it gets, the more the scales tip in its favor.
Since I have swapped out the gearing for road riding purposes this summer (here, here and here) I have been using as my sole ride. I have had no issues and the gear range is great, even in the hills around here. I rode it today to work and back. And, by the way, I felt great, my recent bout of bronchitis is in the past finally.
While at work this fellow came in with his new baby. It was one of the sweetest cross bikes I have laid eyes on. Everything was shiny and new. The parts were all very high end and all the colors were matching. The frame was by Indy Fab, and it was painted the most perfect shade of metallic orange that I have seen. The hubs and headset were from Chris King and their color of green went perfect with the frame. The fork was the weak link in my opinion, but still not bad, a Wound Up carbon cross fork. The rest of the stuff, FSA SLK Light cranks, Dura Ace drivetrain, and Paul Neo retro brakes were all top notch. One of the new guys at work who is also very into cross just about lost it when he laid eyes on the bike. Totally beautiful. This was not his first cross bike and the guy seemed like he had a lot of years of cross underneath him. I didn't take him for a poseur, he is a pretty good rider I am sure. But he is also older and must have some disposable income because this was a very spendy bike he had.
I started talking to the guy and I went on expressing my admiration for his bike and the build and eventually we got to his brakes. He said that he has been having trouble getting to feel as good as some other Neo Retro set-ups he has tried. I told him that I was running them and that mine felt pretty good to me. He wanted to check out my set up so I went and got my bike. When I brought it out an amazing thing happened--he started to gush on and on about my Curtlo.
Now for those that don't know, my Curtlo frame retails (I didn't pay retail) for about 1000 bucks. His frame retails for around 3000 bucks. His parts spec retails for probably another 3000 bucks or more and mine for about $1500 to 1700 at most. Basically, his bike is more than twice as expensive as mine if we had both paid retail. I didn't, but I bet he did. Yet here he is pointing out how he really likes the way my 1x9 is set up with the Kelly Take off. He loved the color of the frame. He loved the fork, the wheelset, the frame construction, the threaded housing stop on the rear of the frame, blah, blah, blah. At one point I started to blush for my bike's sake. He complemented me on the fact that although his bike is about a 52cm frame, my bike was at least a pound or two lighter. He thanked me a couple times for letting him look at my bike and letting him check out the set up of it. And yes, my brakes set up, even though they are the same brakes, made his feel like crap. He said to me "you're bike is cooler than mine." I told him he was full of it, but he persisted.
Yeah, it was cool deal. His comments totally stroked my ego. After all, this bike wasn't just born the way it is set up. No, it has gone through about 5 major changes on its way to its current set up. Well, at least they are major changes to me--some might not notice. But this guy, who didn't appear to be crazy by the way, spotted most of these things that I have changed and commented on them. Things like the brake set up, the lever feel, the crank/derailleur/shifter set up, etc. Yeah, I sort of felt like I had achieved some level of credibility as a cyclocrosser today. The bike has obviously been ridden hard--there are plenty of scratches, and scuffs on the frame and parts--but those marks have given it character. Yeah, this bike rocks. And frankly, I rock for coming up with a bike and a set up like this. So if this makes me vain--so be it.