So, I haven't said much about it, but last Monday I ordered a new bike. I had an hour to kill after meeting Duffy for dinner and symphony rehearsal, so I stopped by the bike shop. I mentioned that I was looking for a "dedicated commuter" that would possibly be able to take me on some medium-sized tours, should I want to go "really, really green" for vacation. They had a Bianchi Volpe from a few seasons ago in a frame my size -- as it was an older model, they had a great deal on it. I bought it.
While my Giant OCR 1 was getting the job done, for the most part, for my daily commute - it was lacking.
- First, I'm really, really tired of taking a backpack into the office. After an hour-long ride, my back is disgustingly sweaty.
- I have to keep a store of dress clothes at the office - which works most of the time . . . only, should I need a certain shirt or something at home -- well, I'm out of luck. Taking business professional clothes to work in a backpack isn't really going to work.
- If I get caught in a sudden rainfall, I end up getting covered in road muck, and the OCR1 does not have enough clearance for fenders.
- If I want to go to the grocery store for more than a few items, I have to take a car, because I can only fit what I could fit in the backpack -- and while the OCR1 works for me plus a backpack - I don't know how well that frame would hold up with me, a rack, the backpack, plus a couple of dozen pounds of groceries.
Additionally, even if I did put a rack on the bike - that would make it that much heavier, getting in the way of my long, fun rides. What I was looking for was to make the Giant the "fun" bike, while getting a "utility bike", and that's what the Volpe gives me. The bike is probably between 8 and 12 pounds heavier than the Giant, and it feels like you're riding a two-wheeled tank. But, it is quite responsive, and is actually pretty fast. I miss the carbon-fiber forks absorbing road vibrations -- but, I was looking for utility, and I got it. This bike feels like you can use it for just about anything: from going around the block, to my 20 mile commute to work, to taking it all of the way across the US. Of course, I've only had it for one ride - but it was a fun ride in.
The plan now is to start bringing clothes home from the office. I will always have an "emergency suit" at the office, just in case I should need something at the last minute, but the bulk of my clothes will be home. I'll transport the day's clothing to and from the office in the Two-Wheel Gear Suit Pannier. I found a used one on eBay, and it should arrive tomorrow. I'm looking forward to that. I'll take a couple of shirts a day home -- and I need to see if I pass any dry-cleaners en route.
I am also bidding on a couple of Arkel panniers to allow me greater grocery coverage -- those close in a day, and I think I'm in a pretty good position to win those. In time, I'm going to need a child trailer - which would make grocery shopping really, really easy (heck, you can probably fit more into one of those trailers than you can some car trunks) -- but they're expensive. Of course, the main goal of said trailer would actually be to bring a kid along, but we're not quite there yet.