Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Wisconsin Has More Than Cheese

The wife and I escaped this past weekend to southern Wisconsin. If you've never been there, I recommend it highly. Early November is a perfect time to visit because of the changing colors and empty state parks. It also happens to be a state, like Illinois, where motorist's turn signals mysteriously fail to work and speed limits are mere recommendations, not laws. But that's another story for another time. I strongly recommend to bring your bike. There are some great rides to be had.

Our first day was spent in Madison, home of the Badgers and a cycling friendly downtown area. Good food, good coffee, and nice people. Madison also flaunts several bike shops. We went to Yellow Jersey out of convenience.

As you walk in, you are treated to a colorful archway of various new and used frames. Many of which cater to the needs of the fixed gear crowd. A fixed gear trend in a big college town... go figure.

Also serving as greeter at the front door is a case full of vintage collectibles. One can peer through the glass longingly at leather Binda toe straps, Superbe Pro calipers, and Nuovo Record hubs to savor the sweet taste of yesteryear, when riding bikes was "purer" and "harder".

A plethora of tubulars were strewn about haphazardly. Many popular, and exclusive brands available for the novice on up to the world cup bound uber crosser.

The Nagasawa caught my eye. It was a beautifully brilliant red with silver sparkles. I'd read about them online and seen many photos. Yet, as most of you know, photos and copy fail to capture the essence of a bike. So, I took advantage of the opportunity to study this one with my own eyes.

The Record group was a good choice. It would have built up equally well with Dura Ace, Force, or Red. Though, I wish all manufacturers provided a top shelf polished alloy crank as an alternative to the prevalent carbon models. When I see chromed stays and/or lugs I think the polished parts complement the frame in a much more desirable way.

The lug work was classy as expected. I also like the fact that the cheap looking black Record calipers weren't used. The steel fork is pretty much dead these days, the flat crown steel fork is even deader. I'm glad it's not more deader than it already is.

AACK!! WTF? What's with the baby-turd looking stem? That damn thing belongs on a Trek 720. I didn't see a sold tag or anything. There was a price on the frame. What gives? Why not finish the job with a fine looking stem? Or, at the very least, one that's proportional? That's ten demerits, Yellow Jersey! Regardless, you've got a fine shop with a history rich atmosphere.

The next day we went out to Barefoot Beach State Park near Lake Geneva. I have to admit, I was a bit suspicious about what this place had to offer as far as hiking and cycling when we rolled in. It looked like a big ass parking lot. I pulled the bikes off the roof and rolled around looking for entrances to some trails. I'm happy to report that we discovered some nice stuff to roll around on. It's got fine terrain for a cyclocross bike, if a bit flat. In an homage to the victory salute post, I can be seen above doing the reverse one armed salute. Surely a move best left to the cocky self assured rider that wants to denigrate the sorry efforts of the defeated. I think I saw Cipollini do this once. He was worthy of it. It is pure fantasy (note the lack of defeated riders to denigrate) for riders such as myself.

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