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Snap

Out on the road last night. Roughly 10 kilometers from home. Wind was calm. Moving along at a fine pace on the flat road. 36km/h.

SNAP!

Rear wheel locks up. Adrenalin rush. I’ve been hit? Wrench the machine back into balance. Don’t spill. Execute a panic stop.

Relief. I did not go down hard on the road. I was able to keep the bike in balance. What happened?

I ride on Roval Rapide SL Carbon wheels. Standard issue on the big S Specialized bikes. Very expensive wheels. Almost $3,000 a pair. Tires extra.

These carbon wheels are very lightweight at 1,450 grams and feature DT Swiss AeroLite spokes. One of those spokes snapped on the rear wheel. Because of tension, the loss of one spoke immediately took the wheel out of true which caused the tire to jam against the frame.

I was fortunate that I was able to keep control of the bike. However, I had no way to execute a roadside repair. The bike was down.

Amongst other things, I always carry a cellphone with me when I ride. Lorraine had gone downtown and by good fortune was on her way back and not too far from me. My roadside wait was less than 5 minutes. I took the bike down to my local shop — the wonderful folks at J&J Cycle — where the owner graciously lent me a CycleOps PowerTap wheel. My rear wheel will be out of commission for repairs for the week but I can still ride.

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Bike Rentals

When I was down in Arizona, I rented a road bike from Arizona Outback Adventures. The cost of the rental was expensive at roughly $300 USD for the week. The website claimed that the rental bike was a high performance, top-of-the-line Trek bike.

I had sent my measurements down ahead of time and I had also passed along my requirements for pedals. I brought my own helmet, clothing and shoes.

The bike arrived properly sized in accordance to my measurements and the bike was also equipped with a similar set of pedals to my own road bike. My current ride is a top-of-the-line Specialized S-works and it is an amazing bike. The Trek was okay but it was not a top-of-the-line bike.

It did have a Dura-Ace derailleur and I assume that the rear cassette was also Dura-Ace. But the rest of the groupset and the crank was Ultegra. Don’t get me wrong, Ultegra is a good groupset but it is not top-of-the-line. Tires, wheels, saddle were all mid-level components. And the frame, much as I expected, had been in service for a while. Where I was expecting a bike at the Madone 6.5 level or better, the rental was an older, mid-level machine.

Despite the somewhat misleading website copy, the machine did ride well and it was smoother than I expected. I had a few challenges switching from Red to Shimano — definitely not used to long-throw double shifters — but adapted well after the first ride.

The desert rides were amazing. I would get up at 5am and hit the road around 5:30am. The loop was roughly 20 miles on lightly traveled roads not too far from the resort. The weather was perfect for riding at that time of the morning. Unlike this current long week-end in Ontario. Winds gusted to 50 km/h yesterday and the temperatures were 8 to 10 degrees Celsius below normal. We did not get above 11 degrees Celsius. And this morning it is a balmy 6 degrees Celsius. I don’t have the clothing for cold-weather riding as I usually spin indoors during the winter months. I guess I didn’t think that the May long week-end would bring a return to near freezing temps. Looks like I have to pick up some heavier outdoor bike wear.

Here is a photo of the rental bike.

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And here is a photo of my current bike.

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S-Works Roubaix SL SRAM

An unexpected twist on the bike upgrade. As I went in for my fitting on Thursday evening, the owner of the bike shop proposed an alternative model. A 2008 Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL dressed with the SRAM Red group. SRAM Red is a top of the line groupset that comes in under 2,000 grams. The whole bike weighs 15 pounds without pedals. Amazing.

The S-Works factory builds the best-of-the-best bikes and the Roubaix SL is definitely way out of my price range. However, the 2008 model was the owner’s bike. He used it last season but did not log much in the way of miles on the frame. It looks new. And he was willing to offer the bike to me for a few hundred more than the Roubaix Expert.

An absolute no brainer.

I will fit the bike this afternoon and bring it home just in time for some spinning this evening. Still indoors for a couple of months yet.

And the bike is red. I like red bikes.

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Specialized Roubaix Expert

After having logged thousands of kilometres on the old Trek 2200, it was time to trade the old machine in for a new bike.

The Trek 2200 was a pretty good machine for the money. An entry level road bike with aluminum frame, carbon forks and rear seat stay, decent wheels and, surprisingly enough, an Ultegra groupset.

The new machine is a Specialized Roubaix Expert. I liked the Pro as well but the cost for that bike is too high for me. The Expert offers the same carbon fibre frame and most of the same hardware but features the Ultegra SL groupset and wheels instead of Dura-Ace and Roval Roubaix.

Some good deals out there given the time of year and the state of the economy. I get fitted for the bike on Friday and should have it within a few weeks. I’ll continue to spin indoors until the season opens up in a couple of months. Roubaix bikes are renowned for their comfort and for this 50 plus rider, comfort becomes a more important attribute when riding.

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