The Race Bike II.

My race bike is a former Trek-Livestrong Madone 6.6 SSL that I bought off of Nate Brown, who currently rides for Cannondale-Garmin. It had seen duty in the U23 Paris-Roubaix and was Nate's training bike until the team reorganized, so it had a beefy (heavy) Bontrager touring bike fork. After George Hincapie went down in the 2006 Paris Roubaix when his fork's carbon steerer tube snapped, Trek because very conservative in that regard. The Bontrager Satellite fork can take a direct hit from a tactical nuke and has plenty of clearance for wider tires, so it's certainly cheap insurance. It's just rather heavy and not exactly the most responsive component.

When I decided to replace it, all I wanted to lose was a ton of weight. I like the added clearance for tires and I like the fact it's bulletproof, because I have all of the riding finesse of a prepubescent wildebeest. If there's a pothole, I'm hitting the center of it with all of the force my considerable girth can muster. We have a lot of potholes in the spring, so I've gotten very adept at this over the years. There's a very good reason I use training wheels with so many spokes that they could be classified as discs and cause bike polo-playing hipsters to turn green with envy. I also like wider tires that take some of the edge off the pavement cracks and curbs I encounter as I ride. A lot of race-oriented forks just don't have the clearance I want. I put my mad eBay skills to work, and over the course of a couple weeks I narrowed my choices down to a handful of candidates. The one I finally chose makes perfect sense.
This fork was among those made for the RadioShack-Nissan-Trek team in 2012 for Roubaix. Thanks to the Hincapie incident, it has added carbon layers in the steerer tube. It also has more tire clearance than your average Madone fork. Best of all, it weighs less than an anvil, which is a claim the previous fork could never make.

It was cut down to the same length as the fork it replaces, so it was likely installed on a bike at some time or another. Since the fork was cut a little too short for most Madones, it was also cheap. I have no idea if it was in the race, rode on top of the team car as a spare, or sat in the team service course warehouse in Belgium. For my purposes, it really doesn't matter, although it would make for a cool story to tell around the start line.

The fork won't make me faster, but it may change my attitude. A string of small problems all related to my lack of wrenching skills affected my confidence in it as a race bike, so it sat unused for most of the race season. The process of carefully rebuilding the bike will likely go a long way to restore my faith and get me excited about riding it again.

That's certainly worth what I paid. 


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