Back in 1989, I bought a Bianchi Volpe to use as a touring bicycle. It was a sturdy steel bike with a mix of road and mountain bike components. (Including an ultra-low gear ratio). It served me well for many years. I rode it fully loaded on a couple of long bike tours. In the last couple of years, we climbed most of the hills in the Bay Area, and completed 3 century rides.
Unfortunately, Bianchi originally equipped the bike with mid-range Suntour components. After SunTour ceased production in 1995, it became very difficult to find replacement parts. Last season, my freewheel finally gave in. On a tough hill climb, I ripped the teeth off one of the cogs. I tried finding replacement parts on eBay, but without much luck. I was faced with the prospect of replacing the entire drive-train on an 18 year old frame. Oh, and probably the wheels too.
It was time to shop for a new bike.
I visited all the local shops. I was amazed both by the new technology and the sticker prices. After test riding several bikes I narrowed it down to a couple of Trek models. I finally settled on the 2006 Trek Madone 5.2. It felt good climbing hills, quick and responsive, but still pretty comfortable for long rides. Buying last year’s model saved me a couple of hundred bucks. I bought the bike on President’s Day. The folks at Chain Reaction Bicycles spent a couple of hours fitting it for me. They must have swapped out 4 different stems. (They say I have an odd-shaped body. Tell me something I don’t know.)
This weekend I went riding in Palo Alto and Woodside. It felt really good. I didn’t tackle any tough hills, but the bike was fast and responsive on the flats. Maybe I’ll miss my old granny gear – especially climbing Hicks Road. But I’m really happy with the Madone. I hope we can log a couple of thousand miles together this year. Who knows, maybe I’ll get 20 years out of this one too.