Sunday, June 19, 2011

Welcoming Home a New Family Member

The last few days have been, well, crazy.  It all started on Thursday.  I skipped my normal lunch-time workout to check out the bike swap happening over at Tonka Cycle and Ski.  Just a few months ago, Tonka Cycle was about to go out of business.  Since then, they've gotten a new location in Hopkins, had a re-Grand Opening and even became a bike shop sponsor of the Twin Cities Spoke

Anyway, bike swaps can be a great place to find a good used bike at a great price.  Folks looking to decrease the size of their stable will bring their steeds into the shop, pay a small fee and then include their ride in the sale.  Outside of the small fee, all of the money made goes directly back to the original owner.  Since The Wife is in training for the Irongirl this September, I thought it might be a good opportunity to pick up something inexpensive that could get her through the race. 

There were all sorts of bikes at the swap.  There were plenty of kids bikes, some classic Schwinn cruisers, some beaters that could use a little love and even some tandems.
$500 for this Cannondale tandem is a steal.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything that fit the bill for The Wife.  They didn't have any road bikes in her size and all of the tandems available needed a bit too much love to get back up and running.  Oh well.  I was about ready to head back to the office when I noticed this little number just hanging near the edge of the lot:
Why, hello there beautiful.
What I found was a Merlin Aerial.  Merlin makes high-end titanium frames and the Aerial was a collaboration between them and Quintana Roo, the first company to develop tri-specific bikes.  I took this little number off the rack and took a closer look.  The frame was clean, the Dura-Ace components were in immaculate condition and...drumroll was my size.

I wasn't prepared for a test ride and I had to get back to work, so I hung the Merlin up and headed back to the office.  Needless to say, I spent the next few hours at work rather distracted.  Between tasks, I hopped onto The Interwebs and learned everything I could about Merlin bikes.  They're not exactly a household name like Trek, Cervelo or Specialized.  But, from what I could tell, they were very well constructed.

After punching out for the day, I'm pretty sure that I broke a few traffic laws trying to get home quickly.  I hopped on Rusty and sped off to see if my new friend was still waiting for me - which it was.  Not only that, but since lunch, they price had been dropped by $100.  Nice.  The folks at the shop were cool about letting me swap out the pedals and adjust the seat height to something that fit my stubby legs.  I took the Merlin out for an extended test ride. 

The first thing that I noticed was that it was comfortable.  I was able to ride without being all scrunchy in the shoulders.  The second thing I noticed was that this sucker was fast.  Maybe it was just my adrenalin, but it was easier to spin up to cruising speed. Plus, that the cruising speed was 1-2 miles an hour faster than what I was used to.  The best part was that the asking price for the bike was 1/3 of what I was expecting to pay for my first dedicated tri bike.  I was sold.  Or rather, the bike was sold - to me!

Let me introduce you to my new (yet to be named) steed.  It's already been set up with my trusty saddle bag and Twin Cities Spoke water bottle.
Of course, once I got home, buyer's remorse started to settle in.  So, I immediately hopped onto the Twin Cities Spoke forum, where I was calmly assured that this was, in fact, a heckuva good deal.  In fact, it was such a good deal, that I had enough cash left over to buy some carbon racing wheels from the swap the very next day.
Here he/she/it is all pimped out and ready to race.
That's it though.  There won't be any more big purchases for me, at least, not for a little while.  But man, I can't wait to get this bugger in a race.  Oh, and don't worry.  Rusty's not going anywhere.  In fact, I'm looking forward to converting him back to the nice road bike that he was created to be.

Stay tuned and I'll tell you about my adventure Saturday breaking in the new steed any why I'm so very thankful to have a titanium frame rather than carbon.

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