3 July 2009

I've decided I should put something in my blog every day, just as a habit to keep it from growing too stale.

### A history of [my] bike wheels

When I got my most recent road bike (2004), the first thing I upgraded was the wheelset. There really was very little practical reason, I just wanted something that looked aero, to add to the sexiness quotient. Being a poor college student, I found my way to a pair of Neuvations, which are inexpensive and consistently well-reviewed (I'm seeing a lot more of them out in the wild now).

They had to be trued every three months or so, but given my history (at the time) with wheels, that was no biggie. Things happen as they will, and those bad boys started popping spokes like nobody's business after about two years (let's call that about 7000 miles); once the first spoke went and got replaced, the others were quick to follow. To his credit, John Neugent (the guy that makes the wheels) overnighted his custom spokes to my bike shop, free of charge (although I did mention that I was treating them as kindly as I could). Still, by this point I had a steady job and was open to something a little pricier.

Having matured out of my, "It's got to look aero" phase, I decided that the most important thing to me was durability. If this is your criterion, you should know by now that Mavic is the way to go. They are consistently judged a little heavy, but “bomb-proof”. Sounded like what I was looking for, so I picked up a pair of Ksyrium Elites.

Three years on, these things have not been trued once, and still run as straight as the day they arrived. But that's not the point here.

Today I was bombing Beverly Glen (Mulholland to Sunset) for the first time. Towards the top, it's traffic-y and a little narrow for comfort. Still, I was touching 41mph and trying to dodge the brush on my right when all of a sudden that moment — the one where you see something coming up, but you're boxed in and can't stop or get out of the way in time, just long enough for an Our Father or “FFFUUUUCCCC...” but the K is cut off by impact — came on like a bag of bricks. The object in question was one of those pavement puckers that are so prominent in Southern California, about three or four inches tall, almost perpendicular with the road surface, and screeching towards me at a hair over 18 meters per second. I said my prayers and my bike was launched into the air, landing with a resounding thudthud as over 200 pound of man and machine returned to earth, one wheel at a time.

I got home and had to adjust and tighten my stem and steering tube. But those Mavics, they run as true as ever. Some may call them heavy, and some may call them slow, but as far as I'm concerned they're the best components I've ever bought.

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