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April 1, 2005

I am now a three-bike household.

Her name is the Colonel. She's fast, sleek and double-butted. Just like I like 'em.

It came down to this Jamis Quest and a LeMond Croix de Fer. I'd wanted to like the Lemond, but I had to concede it was mostly for aesthetics. Lemonds look sexy and European but are made in America. (Just like I like 'em.) The Quest, though, had more jump and better components, and although I'd made made-in-America the tie-breaker, this was no tie.

My first race will be in two days.

I'm sure this is insane, to compete before I've become fully acquainted with a new bike. It will be like driving the Indy 500 in a new car and spending the first few laps fumbling for the cigarette lighter and windshield wipers. But I've been hepped up to race since November. I can wait no longer.

Sunday's race is a 30-minute criterium in St. Charles -- about a dozen laps around a milelong street course.

For weeks I've been visualizing. In the past I have visualized my marathons, but it's always been a single vision: smooth and swift from start to finish. In my mind, dropping out of a marathon is as unimaginable as winning one. For the crit, however, I have four visions, each as likely as the next:

  1. I get dropped hard and early. My only prize is for being first into street clothes.
  2. I keep up with the pack but lack the tactics and skills to break out.
  3. I keep up with the pack but lose confidence on a turn and brake. I start a chain reaction that takes out a dozen riders, several of whom come up to me afterward and offer bribes to ensure that I never race again. As I am lifted into the ambulance I wiggle my toes in the Morse code for "OK, never again." Meanwhile, the race director places a Styrofoam cup in my hand. "Don't forget your teeth."
  4. A winter of bike commuting pays off. Not only do I keep up but on the final lap I join an attack and sprint my way to a podium finish.

More details as they develop.

Photo taken: April 1, 2005