If it weren’t, then the purchase of my Cannondale aluminum hybrid six years ago, after Laurie badgered me into upgrading my well loved and worn 1979 Fuji, wouldn’t have marked a shift in my life, when I embraced long rides as a joyful physical and mental test.
My CoMotion touring bike had its maiden voyage two years ago this week, at the 2010 BikeMS — right before I took it to Portland for a thousand-mile journey to Jackson, Wyoming. It has been the workhorse in my stable ever since: some 9500 miles (out of more than 15,000 over that time) of commuting, errands-running, touring, and day-long looping. With a geometry that is a balance between my aggressive carbon frame and relaxed aluminum hybrid, I tell admirers, it rides like a Cadillac (and weighs nearly as much).
The bike does matter. For that Tour de France guy to suggest otherwise, while riding a custom-made machine, is a tad disingenuous. You can get there on any bike, with any components. But every part, from the saddle to the shifters to the rims, can affect how you feel, and that joy will affect every ride.
I’d been loving my Cannondale “Road Warrior” for about 4,000 miles, including that life-altering ride up Going to the Sun in Glacier National Park, when I took it to the 2007 Seagull Century on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. After digesting that ride, I decided I wanted something speedier to compliment the everyday reliability of the Road Warrior. So I went back to Tony at Pro Shop in Georgetown and rode most of the carbon bikes in stock over about six weeks. The eventual test on the Cannondale SuperSix carbon was love at first ride: It seemed to leap forward under me, as if were anxious to please. The geometry was aggressive, pushing me down in the wind; the brakes firm and the drivetrain flawlessly smooth. I found it to be about 2 miles an hour faster than the hybrid — but it felt much faster.
Touring the Texas Hill Country on a rented bike in April 2009, I started thinking about an upgrade for the hybrid. After mulling for a year (during which I’d logged another 7,000 miles, evidence that cycling was not, after four years, a passing fancy), I rode over to College Park Cycles to talk with Charles about my options. I’d been eyeing CoMotion since the trip to Austin, and then on a sojourn to the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Richmond. There were less expensive bikes, like the Surly Long Haul Trucker, a wonderful make. But in the end I felt like the heavier and more refined CoMotion would be the last bike I’d ever need.
So far, it is.