Day’?s Verse:
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:6-7

OK, this is more for my personal record than for any interest my six readers may have. I wrote this huge long blog about my new Timbuk2 messenger bag and LeMond Poprad, which I got to ride yesterday for the first time. I can sum the whole thing up: Wheeeeee!

For those interested in the details… read on.

As some of you may or may not know, I tend to live a very frugal life; my largest personal expenditures tend to go to environmental groups or World Concern. I literally wear clothes to death. For example, the jacket I wear every day bicycling, a maroon-and-blue GoreTex creation that wouldn’t look flattering on a supermodel, I received as a Christmas gift my Freshman year in high school (eight or nine years ago now). The shoes I wear bicycling have developed vast holes in the mesh over the toes, but I can’t really justify buying new ones; a little extra water does leak in during wet rides, but they serve me quite well for the couple hours a day I wear them. In short, I really don’t spend much money on myself very often, and when I do, it’s a “splurge” of $100 or less. Probably my largest purchase before this was the $400 SLR-like Canon S1-IS I bought Sophomore year in college (it’s served me very well, by the way, and I’m very attached to it despite some shortcomings it has).

All this to say that when I mentioned last week that I’d bought a new LeMond Poprad bicycle and a personalized Timbuk2 bag to go with it, this probably marked the largest personal purchase of my entire life. I waited most of the week with all the patience of a child on Christmas Eve, and probably annoyed Ian to death by asking every evening, “Did the bike shop call?” “No,” he’d reply tiredly, and then we would rehash various complicated plans as to how I would obtain my bike, since the shop closes before I get home most days. On Saturday, one week after ordering it, I called the bike shop to see if they had even received the bike yet, and there Rick (the manager; we’re on a first-name basis I’ve been in there so many times) told me he would have it ready “early next week.”

After which my waiting frenzy increased tenfold. Monday and Tuesday I spent gazing at a picture of the bike I had purchased, performing only the most perfunctory tasks at work. We speculated that we would receive a call on Tuesday, since that was “early in the week” but not a Monday, which would be a little too soon. So when Tuesday arrived, Ian went home after work and I waited on tenterhooks to hear that the bike shop had called. It was with great disappointment I received Ian’s depressing email: “They didn’t call.” Oh, well, I told myself; you’re a grown-up, so wait like one.

But during the Life Group that evening, all I could think about was my new bike and the bag I had ordered, which was scheduled to arrive on Wednesday the 11th. On the drive home from Life Group, we once again rehashed a plan for “if the bike shop called after Ian left,” and “if they call on Wednesday.” I harbored a secret hope that they would’ve called Tuesday evening while we were out, but at the same time didn’t really want to hope that too desperately, for fear of disappointment. Yet when we arrived home, we straight away checked the message machine for that glorious blinking red light—and lo! It blinked, and when we listened to the message it began, “Hi, this is Rick from Spoke ‘n’ Wheel…” after which I didn’t hear anything for all my jumping around squealing excitement. Listening to it again, he gave us the hours of the shop, and we made hard and fast plans for me getting the bike. All evening I kept feeling like the dancing guy in this comic.

That night I hardly slept, almost exactly like a child at Christmas. I lay awake in my bed thinking about my new bike, how fast I would ride on it, how different it would feel compared to my modded Specialized HardRock mountain bike. Wednesday morning I drove Ian to work, then drove myself in to Worcester—a commute of about an hour, which made me sincerely appreciate my daily bike/train ride. Wednesday passed in a blur, and I only remember checking the UPS shipment tracking on my Timbuk2 bag, only to find it marked “Delivered,” another exciting development.

At 2:30 on Wednesday Janice and I, along with the whole rest of the Reporting Group, made our slow way along Route 9 to the new Charles River Labs facility in Shrewsbury. There we took a tour of our new building; everybody but the Laboratory Sciences Department will move in there by the end of June. My department, though, remains in Worcester for some indeterminate amount of time, and I’m fine with that. It’s 2.5 miles uphill from the Grafton train station to the Shrewsbury facility, and less than a mile from the Worcester train station to our current building. Anyway, the tour ended at 4:00 and I promptly left, zipping along Route 20 back to our apartment. There I retrieved $200 in American Express gift cards that I’d received as a thank-you from a grateful Study Director (I did work my tail off for him, but I didn’t expect any particular compensation) and then made my excited way further down Route 20 to the Spoke ‘n’ Wheel.

When I walked in, I could hardly keep from bouncing up and down. But I managed, I think, to act fairly calm and adult—quite a feat, I assure you. I said, “Hi, I’m Katie Ferguson, and I’m here to pick up my new Poprad.”

“It’s that red bike over there,” Rick told me, motioning to the back wall. And there it was at last, a somewhat small-framed bike, gleaming red with white markings, the distinctive disc brakes and spoke arrangement, with its swooping-down road-bike style handlebars. We adjusted the seat height for my legs, discussed the equipment swap I’d asked for—slicks instead of the slightly knobby treaded tires that came standard with the bike, as well as pedals with toe clips, since it didn’t come with pedals—and I also purchased an odometer and front/rear headlights. Half an hour later, I’d gone through all the paperwork, delightedly discovered they gave me a 10% discount on everything for buying the bike there, and paid the $1,660.01, and walked out the door with the deliciously lightweight bike over my shoulder. I picked Ian up from work on the way home, zipped in to the office to pick up my new bag, and then spent the rest of the evening putting lights and the odometer on my bike.

I could hardly wait to try out my sweet new gear, but the next morning dawned darkly cloudy and the weather confidently predicted 100% chance of precipitation all day. With that forecast, I managed to restrain my enthusiasm for the new bike and took my normal, all-weather bike to work. The bag, however, went into immediate service. At first I thought the medium I’d ordered was far too large, but when I put everything in it, only a few corners remained empty. For the record, I generally schlep these things with me:

– Bike repair kit, including a bike tool, patch kit, quarters, band-aids, tire-pressure checker, and Neosporin
– A bike lock (not the lightest item in the world)
– My wallet
– Two pens
– My Bible and journal
– Breakfast and lunch, consisting of yogurt, a salad, a banana, string cheese, and maybe an apple or cookies if we have them
– A change of clothes for work, including jeans, socks, undershirt, other undergarments, and a shirt
– A paperback novel

Monday morning I also carry my grey jacket to work, and Friday afternoon I carry it home. Every ten days or so I also have to carry in another pound bag of Vermont Morning, the integral half of my oatmeal-and-yogurt breakfast. All this stuff adds up pretty quickly, especially the change of clothes. For most of my time commuting I’d put it in a backpack and strapped the backpack to the rack on the back of my mountain bike. My Poprad, though, doesn’t come with eyelets to allow a rack, so I had to find an alternative. Wearing a backpack simply doesn’t work for commuting, as it leaves the bicyclist with a totally sweat-drenched back. Hence the Timbuk2 messenger bag, which sits lower on the back, distributing weight more naturally (what’s a few extra pounds around my butt, honestly?), and leaving my back open to air out as I ride.

I wore it on Thursday morning and immediately loved it. It removed the sensation I always had with stuff on my bike rack of dragging a dead elephant behind me; it shifted very little over the course of the ride; it stylishly held all my gear; and best of all, it proved its value that evening as I rode home in pouring rain—all the bag’s contents remained delightfully dry. Before I always had to wrap my backpack in a big garbage bag, not an entirely handy proposition. The Timbuk2 bag’s performance delighted me and I spent all Thursday grinning despite the radio’s ominous announcements of a big nor’easter coming in soon.

Friday morning I checked the weather, hoping and praying for a dry day to try out my gleaming new bike. After some discussion, I deemed the 30% chance of rain acceptable and set off. As soon as I mounted the bike and began to ride, an involuntary “wow” escaped my lips. An Ian-esque phrase immediately came to mind: “It’s like riding an angel.”

And it was. I rode fast, silently, and loved it. It shifted like a dream, along smaller increments than my mountain bike; the narrow tires flew along the road with so much less effort than my mountain bike I could hardly believe it. The difference in weight distribution as I leaned forward made me feel like I was flying, and even the toe clips seemed to work better than my other ones. I made pretty good time to the train station. Comparing this bike to my mountain bike is virtually impossible; like comparing a dual processor with a 286. Everything worked better on this bike, and I enjoyed my ride as I’ve never enjoyed it before. In short, I’ve fallen in love, and have deemed this purchase well, well worth the price. Even if I do have to go out and buy a small portable Presta pump, pressure-measuring thingy, and emergency Presta tubes.

At the train station on the way home, a man maybe a couple years older than I am walked by and paused to look at my bike. He said, “Nice bike,” to which I said, “Thank you.” He added, “You don’t see many road bikes with disc brakes,” at which point I decided he knew something about bikes, since disc brakes are pretty unusual and I don’t know how many normal people would recognize them as such. I agreed with him and he then commented on my tires, approving of them. Eventually it came out that he works at Bicycle Alley, the bike shop in Worcester, which made me happy—he knew bikes pretty well, and mine definitely passed muster.

I rode it home in the evening against a harsh and gusty headwind and still enjoyed myself, although my legs ached from the difference in bicycles. Alas, we’re expecting snow/rain all week next week—yes, snow through the third week of April—so it’s back to the regular bike for me. But I’m very, very happy with my purchase.

We actually have a pretty busy weekend, too. We are going to the Step It Up talk in Sudbury at 1:00 (plug: Go to Step It Up events in your area!), and in the afternoon we are going to stop by Bicycle Alley to check out their huge sale (I hope to get extra tubes and Presta-compatible tools cheaply), after which I head straight to WPI for a farewell dinner for John Trimbur. Ian and Nora are going to see the new Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie while I do that. And on Sunday Dave and Sharron are, for the first time ever, coming to our apartment, which will necessitate child-proofing it as much as possible. For those of you in the know, what kind of items should we put out of the way of three- and four-year-olds?

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