Monday, July 25, 2011

The 5 HIlls from Hell, 7 Hills would take longer to ride.

One thing that's for certain, once you're in the bike industry, fellow cyclist lean on you as their Bicycling Help Desk. Being the bike geek that I am, I really don't mind this.

An email pops into my Inbox last December from an old cycling friend, Dan. Dan and I have a long history of bicycling together, errr, allow me to clarify, mountain biking. He and I started riding together in the early 90's at the local Monday night
mountain bike ride. While we shared many miles on the dirt, Dan was still an avid roadie where as myself, not so much. I had traded my road bike in '91 for a mountain bike which I would go on to regret once I got into mountain bike racing. The road bike is a damn good training tool for mountain bike racing.

(l-r)Dan Stambaugh, me, Davey Jr, John Grab, Andy N, Brad T.
Dan was putting a plan together back in the mid-90's to do a bike shop in Lancaster, PA. Leading up to the launch of this shop, he was gathering up all his riding buddies who aspired to mountain bike race in support of his shop and slapped a shop jersey on their backs. Me being one of them.

The photo above is from the 1995 Pinch Pond Classic in Brickerville, PA. Dan has a clip board under his left arm; data acquisition from the racers. In the picture, I'm on my first official bike that I purchased for racing with my own money I was earning as a controls technician; KHS Montana Pro w/Full XT kit- $1300. 21lbs steel hardtail, loved that bike. Next to me was Davey Jr as we called him. He was racing Expert class for Jamis at this point and would go on to race against some of the top pros of that era; Landis, Bishop, and Chris Eatough. The kid was all legs and lungs.

Back to the story, Dan emails me a laundry list of questions about what he's looking for in a new road bike, what his options are in his price range. After a couple of more phone calls and me playing psychologist with him, I came to the conclusion that this man needs either an 1885 or an FG Lite. Neither of which are available in the US market this year. In fact the FG has been out of our product range since 2009....[click for FG goodness] and the 1885 has been, well, it hasn't been...

After much combing of the interwebs, my inbox churns up a bike via Google Alerts. (It pays to use this feature if you really want to keep tabs on the brand you work for or support.) The results showed a guy who was selling a lightly used 2009 Bianchi HoC FG Lite in a 53cm, Ultegra 6700 build with Easton EC70 wheels. About two grand later, the auction was won by our man Dan.

A couple of months roll by and Dan is in town from Albany, NY for the Fourth of July weekend, itching to get in a ride with me. I meet Dan at his in-law's house in York and we roll out for the ride with his wife Betsy. On tape is what Dan refers to as the 5 Hills from Hell. Typically this ride is 7 Hills but Dan is short for time so we keep things to 5.

Over the course of 36 miles, we knock off 2100' of climbing which is pretty good for keeping things around the York area. There are some good hills in this county and I'm glad this day that I have a compact crank on the 1885 as we climb Copenhaffer Road. This section of climb has a grade like the top wall of Paris Mtn in Greenville, SC only not just a top wall but rather the majority of the climb. Yeah, that steep...6mph, humping the handlebars type of climb.

Dan's previous bike is one from a major brand and carbon fiber. A mid-2000 model year carbon bike and as we all know, carbon bikes have changed a lot over the course of even 5 years. All things considered, Dan wanted something stiff, responsive, light and with a bit of swagger. He agrees the Oltre would have hit all those talking points but $5k for the frame alone, wasn't in his budget.

As confessed by Dan, he loves the bike and the FG isn't a bike you can be lazy upon. "It likes to be constantly turning", Dan confesses. Not that the FG won't track straight at high speed but rather keeping the bike straight requires a level of attentiveness and core strength. Think crit race versus gran fondo ride. (Tech note--this is a good comparison also between the Sempre and Infinito. The Infinito will accelerate close to the rate of the Sempre without the need to be on your game while gripping the bars; due in part to its slightly slacker head tube angle over the Sempre/B4P or HoC frames.)

It was terrific catching up with an old friend through riding and sure as people head out to the fairways with their clubs for business meetings, it's really nice to stretch the legs and put in some miles on the bike. Dan is still itching to do a shop again someday and I can almost bet a paycheck what brand he'll line up with when the doors open.
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