The other day, I went for a ride by myself. This is unusual for me, as I much prefer to ride with a group, or at least one other person. I find it easier to ride harder and longer with a little company, as well as more enjoyable. Well this time, I was not so lucky to have a partner.
Let me be a little more honest, I hate riding alone. As I am training for next race season, though, I had no choice. I needed to get out and ride, so I forced myself to. It was cold, and not in that crisp sort of way-- just a raw, unrelenting cold that I could not get used to, only fight against.
So I rode, by myself, listening to and watching my labored breathing as it turned to smoke as soon as it escaped my lungs. I thought about a lot of things, as one is wont to do when in isolation. Soon though, I started to realize that I was riding fast, and pushing my legs very hard. I started to feel a burn in my quads– the kind that signals a tightening of your muscles as they prepare for a harder effort. I felt good...
My thoughts turned then to my bike. It is new, relatively at least. It is aluminum, which is unusual for me as I have only owned carbon or steel in the last 8 years. And it just feels excited, like it just wants to go– faster, further, more aggressively. It feels like it was designed for this, the solo ride in the winter, done only to prepare for some future goal. The kind of ride where you struggle to push yourself until finally you break through some subconscious wall to another part of your brain where you are a little more sinister, a little less concerned about your own well-being, a little more focused on that burn in your muscles.
By this point, you must be wondering what I’m getting at. Well the thing is, it is difficult to get to this state-- the jacket unzipped and flapping in the wind, tongue hanging out of mouth like a rabid animal, racing some demon up a hill in the depth of winter-- without the proper equipment. And I’m not talking about oversized bottom brackets and electronic shifting and hydraulic braking. I’m talking about a bike that disappears beneath you. The type of bike that responds to your input immediately and effortlessly, that moves smoothly and quietly so you can forget about it and just ride.
I ride a Jamis Icon. I got it a few months ago. As I mentioned, it is aluminum, which I was a little nervous about. Notwithstanding, it offers a surprisingly comfortable ride, while giving me everything I need in terms of performance to compete. Yes, it may be made up of plenty of acronyms and catch-phrases (BB30, Small-Batch Aluminum, tapered head-tube, blah, blah), but the bottom line is, the bike is great.
Know this: it is all about the ride. Not the name on the bike, not what it is made of, not the price-tag or what pro wins races on it. You know you found the right bike for you when you can ride yourself to the edge, overheat in the brutal cold of winter, be happy in your discomfort, all while forgetting entirely about what you are doing it on. For me, that bike is the Icon.