Decision Point.

The first day after I was cleared by the doctor to get back on the road, I was presented with a choice in the form of a large cardboard box on my front porch.

Ride or build?

The box contained my latest project, a titanium frame. All of the parts were ready to go, set aside for just this moment. A few hours of ham-fisted wrenching and I would have a new toy to play with.

I went riding. I don't regret my decision in the least.

I can turn wrenches when it's dark. I can wrench when it's cold and raining. Despite mounting scheduling constraints, I should be able to find time to build the bike and test it out before my trip.

If all goes as planned, I'll take it with me down to Mississippi. The titanium frame should prove a better travel bike than the Storck, for a few reasons, among them:

  • It's easily serviceable. External cable routing. English thread bottom bracket. No exotic parts or tools required. With the Storck, a simple cable issue could involve a lot of work. With the ti frame, a small tool roll can take care of all but the most catastrophic of failures.
  • It's easier to clean. Unpainted ti just wipes down easier than a matte finish like the Storck has. When I'm travelling I don't usually have access to the full bike washing arsenal, and make do with wipes or other small cleaning items. On a longer trip, especially one involving the strong possibility of rain and road grime, my bikes can get toxic if I don't stay on top of the maintenance.
  • It's more durable. The ti frame has thicker tubes. It's considerably heavier than the hydro-formed aluminum Storck, but I'm hoping it will also fend off the groping TSA baggage inspectors better. The down tube dent could have been far worse, rendering the bike unusable. It would be bad enough to have it happen on the return trip, but imagine if it occurred on the way down. That sort of thing could ruin a trip.
  • Titanium tends to mute road vibrations better than aluminum. When I travel, especially when the family isn't along, I tend to put a lot of miles in the saddle. Part of this is to kill time. I spend less money when I'm not bored. However, mostly I ride a lot because I have the option (for a change). A bike that smoothes out the ride a bit while still maintaining some degree of performance is just the ticket for these trips.

We'll see how it rides when it's built. I may love it. I may hate it. I may go... meh.

Like I said, instead of grabbing a fistful of Park Tool wrenches and diving in, I went for a ride. I took a lazy swing around a familiar loop, careful not to put too much strain on my arms in my enthusiasm. I rode for a while with Andy Eker, talking about ski racing and other random things as we dodged tourists on the Coastal Trail.

On the way back from the airport, I swung by the Kulis crit course for a few laps. Seeing the orange ABC signs reminded me that Thursdays are crit nights, and I almost hung around to sit in the C race. That is, until reason intruded and reminded me that I shouldn't push my luck. I did a few laps of the course, then headed home. House projects and the family awaited.

Later that night I wandered into the garage. I installed the fork on the frame, just because. I grabbed a seatpost, saddle, stem, and handlebars, bolting them on just to get a rough idea of what it will look like. Then I cut the steerer tube. Front derailleur. Rear derailleur. Brakes. bottom bracket. SRM. shifters... Impulsively I just kept adding parts. It started looking like a bike. I would have kept going, except my wife appeared in the door, looking rather displeased. I put down the tools and went to bed.

I rode that day, which was more than I could have asked for.


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