Decisions, decisions, decisions....
Last year when I started cycling, I intentionally purchased an entry-level road bike, because I wasn't sure if I would like it and couldn't afford to spend a lot of money on something that might sit in my basement. 2000+ miles later, I'm in love with cycling, and starting to look at upgrading the bike. But there's a lot to consider. For the purposes of the dreamland I'm living in, let's just set the whole "poor graduate student" thing aside for now. And the whole "I started doing my taxes this morning and had a heart attack" thing. Fantasyland, enter here.
On the one hand, last year I did mostly tour-type pack riding. I did a full century and some shorter group rides. I also rode alone or with a friend to the tune of 125-175 miles a week, every week, all summer long. I routinely attended the crazy hill workout. I did one sprint triathlon. I would have done at least two more centuries were it not for the massive inconvenience of having my IT band cut open. So I know, from my own history, that a fancier road bike will fit the profile of the riding I've been doing.
However, on the flip side, I've got two 70.3 races on the schedule for this year - and probably a number of smaller triathlons. The decision I'm really trying to make is, are those races important enough to validate buying a triathlon bike? I could always have aerobars put on my road bike for these races, or I could rent a triathlon bike for the week leading up to and including these races. But I know that if I'm in these races and being passed left and right by others on triathlon bikes, I'll get mad at my bike first. Not rational, by any stretch, as my training will be more to blame than the bike that I ride, but it's what I know will go on inside my head. Will I continue doing 70.3s? It's likely.
But, I'm not sure that I want a triathlon bike to be my main bike. When I return to settle the score with the Reston Century, I know that I'm going to want a road bike for those ridiculous 48% climbs, not a triathlon bike. When I'm attacking the hill workout on Tuesday nights, ditto. When I'm doing tempo rides around Haines Point, ditto.
I went last night to Bonzai Sports in Falls Church, and was enchanted by the shiny, pretty triathlon bikes. But when I presented the above to the awesome guy who was talking to me about them, he summed it up pretty nicely: tri bikes are for racing. Which means two things to me: I don't need one for when I'm not racing, and I do need one for when I do.
Obviously the solution here is to buy two bikes. And if anyone from Specialized, Cervelo, Trek, Felt, or Quintana wants me to test something out for them or send me a "Buy 1 Get 1 Free!" coupon, I'm happy to be a guinea pig and tattoo your brand on my back. Otherwise, I'm wide open to advice, from cyclists and triathletes both. What do I really need? How do I prioritize bicycle purchasing? What questions do I really need to be asking? Where can I find a money tree?