My husband and I have been riding our bikes together every week for a few months. It is a fabulous time up Mt. Tam and it's absolutely beautiful. Our time together is special - like a custom designed date where we can share stories or simply talk about the mundane business of family life while doing something we both love.
The ride that we do is pretty strenuous in places and it takes us between two-and-a-half and three hours to complete. It ends with a ride up our street, which we call Holder Hill. (Our hill is steep, too!)
At first I was riding my old bike, Betty. She's wonderful. She's light and fits me perfectly. I've had her for about ten-years and she'd been the best bike I've ever owned. And I feel disloyal to say this, but the more I rode her on this strenuous route, I saw little flaws in her. I saw that my front shock could use the ability to "lock out" meaning I could keep it from bouncing while riding up hill. I could also see that my old breaks didn't give me confidence in stopping should I need to. There were also some back aches that I got towards the end of the ride that were super uncomfortable.
My husband proposed several times that I get a full suspension bike. I didn't think I wanted to. I loved mine and what I didn't know wouldn't hurt me, right? I mean, how much better could a full suspension bike be anyway? My bike was awesome, I was fine.
As time went on, though, I knew I was probably ready to update my bike to have the components that would trick her out a bit. I could get a lock-out front shock and disc brakes and Betty would be good-to-go. But, it turns out that I couldn't make these changes easily on her and I entertained the possibility of getting a new bike after all.
Then I met Juliana. Santa Cruz Juliana, that is. My husband was going to find me a used Santa Cruz Blur and I needed to get the sizing right so I went into my local bike shop, Summit, in San Rafael and they guys were so incredibly friendly and helpful that we ended up settling on the Juliana - new. It's designed for women, so it's not like I'm adapting to fit the bike, the bike was made for me.
She's a dream, let me tell you! The first time I rode her I instantly felt as though I had updated my old Volkswagen to a BMW. The shifting is effortless and the disc breaks are swift and accurate. The rear shock makes the downhill feel like I'm on rails. The uphill is more effortless because I don't bounce and lose power going up. And no more backaches! The geometry of this bike is fabulous and fits me great.
My only little problem has been my pedals. Due to a crazy fall I had years ago, I have been riding with toe-clips, and not clip-less pedals as is the standard. I'm fine with them. I'm used to them and I have figured out how to work them safely to the fullest on Betty. I decided with Jules that I would go clip-less, though. I tried to use an old set of my husband's pedals with my old shoes and I just couldn't clip out my left foot. I had another major fall and was so mad at myself for a good chunk of the ride that day. My bruised body not as bruised as my ego. I went back to an old pair of toe-clips that belonged to my husband and I didn't like those either, which lead to my ordering some new Sidi shoes and putting the clip-less pedals back on.
On yesterday's ride, however, I learned that my unclipping problem might not have been my old shoes after all. I had to stop suddenly on the street to avoid hitting or getting hit by a car and I fell over because I couldn't get my foot out. My knee got scraped up and I jammed my thumb. My pride wasn't as bruised as my last fall but it was obvious I had to get new pedals.
In all, I love my new bike. She's a fabulous ride and I can't even tell you how much I enjoy the experience now more than before. (And I loved it then!) I feel pretty beaten up today, but I can't wait to go again.