Tuesday, March 31, 2009

bike neurosis

Last week I made the fatal mistake of investigating WSD Trek Bikes (Women's Specific Design), when Chris Garrison held a talk at Bicycle Habitat. I approached this with an open mind thinking perhaps this woman has the best job in the world--promoting women's cycling around the country with high-end, fancy bicycles. I went in my femme work clothes, giving the air of an informed and educated "young professional." The atmosphere was very laid back--mostly women in their 40s and 50s who were milling around, drinking wine and eating cheese.

A cool artist/cyclist named Jennifer Benepe presented a bunch of slick women's jerseys that she had designed with her company hotvelociti. It was clear that her illustrations had double entendres, coming from a political as well as artistic place but she didn't describe each shirt in depth, as I wished she would. I especially like the ones with Spanish sayings, such as this: (it reads: for how many miles should I follow you?)

Chris Garrison spoke shortly thereafter and immediately reminded me of a high school field hockey coach--super nice and approachable but inherently athletic in the way that makes everything she says sound like a pep talk. I think certain people (women?) just speak like that. Anyway, she launched into the importance of bike fitting and parts that are designed specifically for women. Now, before I do any sort of trash talking, I have to say that the extent of market research that Trek performs IS impressive. Giving a few hundred college kids a bike seat and telling them to ride around on it seems pretty legit to me. However, I must admit that I started to feel like it was a bit of a marketing scheme in that ALL of Trek's products are relatively expensive and perhaps unnecessary for the casual cyclist. Although Chris went into a thorough, insistent speech about the importance of chamois cream (placed delicately within, ahem, the bike shorts), I couldn't help thinking: I am clearly not riding 30+ miles a week and this doesn't apply to me. Perhaps in a later life, with a disposable income.

However, Chris mentioned the reasoning behind the smaller wheels and the importance of the shorter top tube--something I had ignorantly dismissed in my last post. And so, she planted the seed, igniting a mild inferno in my bike interest/obsession. Now, after flipping the bird at the recession and spending my hey-it's-March-Merry-Christmas! bonus on these puppies:

Now I'm thinking should I trade my beloved Bianchi in for a Fuji Track 650, the very vehicle I scoffed at? It's just that Chris's talk brought upon a deep insecurity that I could, in fact, be riding something much more suited to my size. And, of course, now I'm obsessed with knowing which feels better (investigative test ride post coming soon).

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