Okay, with almost a full two weeks of Iceman disapointment behind me, I'm ready to start my march into winter riding in preparation for a few early spring races. I've joined up with the Rapid Wheelmen MTB Race Team in hopes of learning a few things about racing - hopefully also this will help give me the drive to do lots of racing in 2012. Good group of guys, so it should work out good. All leading up to (hopefully) a stellar performance at next Iceman.
On Tuesday, I drove all the way out to Grand Haven after work to this tiny bike shop, Loose Spokes, just to try on and order up some NorthWave winter riding shoes. The shop was crazy to me. It was basically a shed attached to a house out in the middle of nowhere. I was kind of spooked out approaching the door to the shop - because of course, no one else was there, it was dark and the parking lot was not well lit . The owner (a sawed-off little man) greeted me and immediately asked my name and retained it during my entire visit. It looked like they specialize in VERY high end equipment - there were actually more antique (unridable) bikes there than new ones - stuff you see on American Pickers. It was like stepping back in time. (I think I saw 3 new MTB's and 2 new road bikes - none of them carbon). I'm sure they could order you something, but otherwise they only had parts, clothing and trinkets manufactured by some more of the well known high-end companies in cycling, but many more obscure ones I have never heard of. Apparently, they're big on Italian-made products, the owner was showing me around and my mind was blown.
He ordered my boots for me. They cost about $50 more than if I bought them online and I had to travel there, but it was worth it to try on a pair to make sure I was getting the right size. And, I don't know the shop at all, but its nice sometimes (to think at least) you're helping keeping a shop like that alive and kicking. Also, if I'm spending big money on shoes that are rated to -15F, I'm not going to "wing it" and get what size I think I need online. I can tell you, they were comfortable and the owner said he tried a pair on years ago, tried them himself, and cannot recommend anything else for winter riding. So, I'm excited for the temps to fall and the snow to fly. Bring it on!
I got all the parts in this week to fix up the General Lee. I replaced my trigger shifters by stepping back into grip shift - still staying with SRAM X.0. In order to fit everything on the bars, I have to forego bar ends, which have been on my bike since I bought it in 1997. I guess it's time to move on, (they're not "in" anymore) and it will be weird to pilot - I used them often on climbs. I was up at 4am this morning to feed baby Nick and by the time he went back to bed, I had an extra hour to spare before my alarm would go off so I wasn't getting back into the warm sheets. So I went downstairs to the General and set everything up, hung a new chain, tried out my new chain tool, etc. Still have tweaking on the gears to happen tonight, but otherwise, ready to get it back into the dirt.