What I'm riding - Between the Ends of America - CycleBlaze

What I'm riding

I love my bike. Some people have different bikes for different needs, but I only have one and I use it for everything: touring, commuting, day rides, heading down the street to the grocery store, whatever. It's just as good at climbing a mountain pass as it is dodging cars in the city, and whether I'm grinding over a hill at four-and-a-half miles per hour or bombing down the other side at 45, it's smooth and solid. It's a Novara Randonee, designed specifically for loaded touring. I bought it new in the summer of 2008 for just over $1,000 and since then I've put almost 6,000 miles on it. I've changed the tires a couple of times and I get it serviced once or twice a year, but that's all it seems to take. It's never let me down.

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These specs are only relevant if you're really into bikes: bulletproof Vittoria Randonneur 700x32 tires; equally solid Mavic A319 rims; Shimano Tiagra brake levers/shifters, front derailleur, and front hub; Shimano LX rear derailleur; Shimano Deore 48/36/26 crankset; SRAM PG-950 11/32, 9-speed rear cog; Shimano Deore Octalink bottom bracket; Shimano M324 SPD pedals with clip-ins on one side and platforms on the other; Shimano R550 cantilever brakes; FSA Orbit X head set; Ritchey angle adjust stem; Ritchey BioMax handlebar; Ritchey Comp V2 seat post; Brooks B-17 saddle; factory-installed no-name rack on the back; Tubus Tara Lowrider rack up front; Planet Bike Cascadia fenders; Cateye Enduro 8 cycling computer; Planet Bike Superflash head and tail lights; and Novara water bottle cages that will break if I ride down a gravel road longer than a mile.

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To most people there's probably a lot to dislike about my bike. With racks and fenders it weighs in a few ounces short of 35 pounds, so it's kind of a fatty. It's poop brown and has some nicks and scratches, so it's not the most beautiful. Local bike shops make fun of it every time I bring it in, because REI makes the Novara brand and the frame comes from Asia, and that offends their delicate sensibilities (even though companies like Surly, Kona, and Bianchi use lots of frames built overseas). But to me it's perfect. It sits in a special place in my living room, and almost every time I walk by I look over and think about how amazing it is. I love the way the silver fenders frame the tires, how the rack support loops over the top of the front wheel, and how sturdy all those spokes look. I think about all the places it's taken me, all the good times I've had with it, and how there's no other bike I'd ever want to ride for four months straight.

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