I'm doing my first triathlon on June 27th. When I signed up for the triathlon, I knew that I was under-equipped for the event from a gear perspective, and I also knew that I couldn't swim. I basically started this process with the cards stacked against me, but whatever. That's just how I do things.
My first priority was to get myself enrolled into some sort of swimming lessons, which I did promptly. My next huge challenge was getting my hands on a road bike that wouldn't make me the laughing stock of The Celebration Sprint Tri. I know that appearances aren't everything, but the last thing I needed to do was set myself up for ridicule as I slogged out of the water 45 minutes after everyone else had finished, and hopped onto my yellow huffy with the banana seat.
I wanted to look official. Because I am a strong supporter of "fake it till you make it", and because I knew that a semi-decent bike would make me more serious about this process.
Naturally, the first avenue that I tried in order to obtain a bike was begging for it.
It didn't work.
In the meantime, I went to bike shops and got sized for a bike, and even took a few spins on the brand new bikes that were in the shop, then told you all about it. At one point, I even considered using my much coveted IRS tax refund to buy a brand new bike.
I quickly realized there were two key problems with that decision:
1) I'm way too practical to spend my tax refund on anything other than paying off the $5M that I have in credit card debt, and 2) I'm not dumb enough to pay full price for anything...much less a $2500 bike that I'll likely crash at least once.
My next thought was to troll around my local Craigslist (Maryland/DC Metro). I was discouraged by that option because although there were a bunch of decent bikes on Craigslist, they were all apparently previously ridden by members of the NBA. As someone who was fitted for a size "small" bike, the fact that all of the bikes I was finding were "large" and "extra large" (EXTRA large??!! How tall are you??!!), was frustrating.
Then I had a lightbulb moment...my family lives in Syracuse. Check the Syracuse Craigslist, dummy!
She was fairly newish (ridden for 2 races--approximately 150 miles), had 2 sets of pedals, a pair of size 8.5 Shimano clip-in shoes, a computer already installed on the bike to measure distance and pace, tri handlebars, and 2 water cages.
Basically, everything that I would've needed to buy for my bike...but it was already installed. And, miracle of all miracles...she was a size SMALL. I think there was divine intervention involved.
The chick who owned the bike was asking $825 for the whole package, and although that was more that I wanted to pay (or thought it was worth), I sent My Sista to the chick's house with $825 just in case. After My Sista kicked the tires and checked under the hood, she managed to talk the chick down to $650 for the entire deal.
Then the chick swiped the Shimano shoes on her way back into the house while My Sista loaded the bike in the truck. After some diplomatic negotiations, however, My Sista walked away victorious with the shoes, bike, pedals, the whole shebang. For $650.
Prior to taking my bike out for her first official spin last Saturday, I did what every internet-obsessed wannabe does. I asked The Internets how to clip into my Shimano pedals. The Internets answered with a very nice explanation on eHow.com. However, what this explanation did not address is the fact that as a life-long CLIPLESS bike rider, my brain just doesn't GET IT.
Beware of the brain that doesn't GET IT when you're clipping into a bike.
I went 30 miles per hour on my little blue thunder. She's quite the steal, and I anticipate many wonderful wind-blown miles on that little bike.
But likely more bruises than miles.