Monday, October 7, 2013

On Being a Self Sponsored Cyclist

I like to think of myself as a self sponsored cyclist.  I do not make any money riding my bike, nor do I acquire any gear from vendors.  My only semi sponsorship is through Hammer Nutrition, which I have been using for a few years now and I am extremely happy with.  Like most cyclist, I pay for my own gear.  There was a brief time where Performance Bike paid me in tires, clothing and gear to work on their shop floor and sell bikes.  I occasionally ended up with a little money from that deal.  However, as I have posted before I try not to get caught up in the most recent trends and equipment to hit the market.  I try to remind myself that the pros are riding the next big thing because their bike, clothing and component sponsors have tons of money tied up in them for development and marketing.  These athletes are performing superhuman feats in front of millions and providing feedback to the companies.  I am seen by a dozen motorists and maybe a dozen cyclists if I am in a group ride, which is probably a good thing as I am performing very normal feats and I am not often asked for my thoughts on my nine-speed Shimano 105. 

I often wait months before I make a big purchase, either to save up the money or determine if it is something I really want.  I put way more miles on my equipment than I should, my drive train is about a thousand miles past needing replacement, and I have just mounted one old tire to replace the new one that I wore through this summer.  I am now riding a sweet bike with two different colored tires.  That being said, when I make a new purchase that does not consist of nutrition or a bike bottle, I have thought about it.  I need to make sure that I am safe on the bike and I will be able to make it home.

Early in the summer I had a crash a block away from my house, who does that, as I was headed out for a ride, it ripped a small hole in my tire and finished off my tube.  I recovered all of the gear that I spilled on the tarmac and set to replacing the tube.  As I began pumping my tube with my frame pump, the stem snapped off.  This is when I decided to walk the block home a call it quits.  Immediately after returning home I went online, very few bike shops in the woods, and ordered a CO2 pump and what will most likely be fifty years worth of cartridges.  This was one of the few impulse purchases I have made.  I had been thinking about it but it took an experience where the gear I had was insufficient for my needs to do it.  Even then, I did my research and read as many reviews as I could.  I would not be stranded with two bad tubes because my pump broke the stem off again.

Even though I am not a pro or specifically training for a race, I want to get the most out of my rides.  I have been a lifelong athlete and I am most consistent with my exercise when I am able to see improvement and find some manner competition.  I started to look at power meters, GPS computers, and iPhone apps.  I had to, unfortunately, rule out a power meter almost as soon as I started to think about it.  It would be awesome to see what kind of data I could play around with and I could tune my rides to give me the greatest improvement.  The drawback is I don't have PowerTap or SRM sending me devices to mount on my bike.  I am, after all, broke and self sponsored.  This might become an option in the future if I come into a large sum of money, become a gear reviewer, or race seriously.  The next step down was a GPS computer.  I looked at what I was able to afford and the honest truth was my phone was able to do all of those things and an iPhone mount was a quarter of the price.

This begins my summer of riding with my iPhone in a LifeProof case, mounted on my handlebars.  The case was great and easy to use.  i even had a few rides where it was pouring rain and I had no issues.  I could get past the bulk because it was the least expensive option and it did its job well.  I even went all out and paid two bucks for MapMyRide+.  For a few months I rode with both Strava and MapMyRide running in the background as I rode.  I loved the way MapMyRide was set up and the information it provided me was great.  MMR even has current speed, which was +- ten MPH at any given time.  Ultimately, I settled on Strava.  Yes, the same Strava that has both ruined and improved cycling.  The only reason Strava won was it has the best forum for competition.  As summer wore on I noticed my phone was nearly dead after a two hour ride and I was constantly having to turn my screen back on to see any information.  I was missing my thirty dollar computer that was always on and had a battery life of roughly a year.  There was also the obnoxious need to pause and restart my ride to keep my ride data from being usable.  I would forget to pause it or restart it and I would ride a hard section and want to see what happened only to find that it had not recorded.  By the end of the summer I began to reconsider a GPS computer.  I love the way both apps worked I just needed something more rider friendly than my phone.  I decided to pull the trigger and buy a Garmin Edge 510.  This was decision that took a year and many reviews to make.  I will put a few rides in it and let my reader know what I think.  In the mean time, ride hard and have fun.

No comments:

Post a Comment