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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Life on Bikes

Mount Rainier 2005
Tiger Mountain, Washington
North Cascades National Park
Seattle on my Cannodale city bike
K2, it cost as much as the car pictured.

K2 on Tiger Mountain, Washington
Valencia, Spain

Orbea Eibar


City cruiser
Valenbisi, the best idea in city living since running water.
Not bad for only 5 days
My New Giant Roam

I live in Valencia, Spain and literally 1K from my front door (in the city center, sort of) I’m in fields with gravel and dirt roads. To get to the mountains it’s a bit of a hump (about 18K, minimum) or a short train ride. I can understand why so many cyclists choose road bikes here but it’s a 50/50 split between road and mountain bikes. Seven days a week you will see dozens, even hundreds of cyclists out on the bike paths on mountain bikes.

Mountain bikes make no sense unless you are doing a lot of really rough trail riding. I’ve owned a full-suspension bike before and it was great but I was riding in the American Pacific Northwest with LOTS of huge mountains with tortuous trails. Valencia lies on a flat coastal plain so a mountain bike makes little sense here. A hybrid or a cyclo-cross is the best way to go in Valencia if you don’t want to go with a racing bike set-up.

My first bike here was an Orbea Eibar which is (was? I don’t know if they still make this model) a hybrid bike with 700c fat wheels and with front suspension. It was a great bike that served me well until it was stolen from the store room of my building. My next bike I picked up on the cheap from a friend, a Trek. This was sort of a mountain bike with 26 inch wheels. I swapped out the knobby tires and put on street slicks so it would be faster on the road.  It was an OK bike but slow. I still have it. Now I have my new Giant Roam, another hybrid with disc brakes and 700c wheels. It’s a lot like my old Eibar and a much better option for the type of riding I do.

I’d say that about 90% of my riding is on pavement, either the street of paved bike trails. I also ride on a lot of gravel or dirt roads out in the country. Sometimes here in Valencia you have to make an unexpected detour across a grove of orange trees or sprint through a sandy trail at the beach, things that would be all but impossible on a racing bike. I keep asking myself if I should have bought a cyclo-cross bike, and specifically this model.

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