Welcome to San Francisco, home of the tech revolution, freshly-minted millionaires, and (at least) one adventure-ready girl who has committed to a bike trip across the continent. If you read the fine print, you’ll see that said girl (hello!) had her home burgled and was left bikeless.
In search of the ideal bike to replace the one that had been lifted, I reached out to my friends who ride, put the word out to strangers, and scoured the internet. After more than a handful of bikes that showed promise turned out to be dead ends, I began to despair. I was feeling the time crunch for training and getting back up to speed, but I still had no idea what I was going to ride.
Just as I was beginning to feel like all was lost, my close friend, Alex, returned from abroad and heard about my plight. Alex has been entrenched in the bike industry for years. Ask him about a product, a person, or a company that’s bike-related, and it’s probable he’s got the inside scoop. I’m a stubborn, know-it-all type with a strong distaste for authority; I’m not given to taking just anyone’s advice on things. When Alex said he had just the right bike in mind for me, though, I knew my search was at an end.
Within 24-hours of talking to him, he’d reached out to Fitwell Bikes, a new bike company that makes bikes for the average person looking for two-wheeled adventures. As the name would suggest, they believe that the best bike for you is the one that fits you.
Alex has helped me pick all of my road bikes and has me so sold on this philosophy that I have become an ambassador and advocate to those looking for advice from me on which bike to pick.
The factors that contribute to a proper fit include leg:torso ratio, flexibility, natural stance, and a bevy of other considerations that you aren’t going to know without a bit of measuring, but which you can easily know without ever getting in the saddle. While a bike might seem right when you take it for a spin around the block, that’s no way to figure out whether/where you’ll have aches and pains during an actual ride.
And, as luck would have it, I’m the type of person Fitwell is all about: your average Jane who loves to ride her bike and wants to tell you about her adventures.
Fitwell Bikes generously offered to donate my choice of bicycle, empowering me to make my bike riding dreams come true. One week after using their guide to figure out which model makes the most sense for me, a pale blue Fahrlander II with orange stripes arrives at my door, replete with everything I needed to get riding. I’m in business.
Everywhere I go, it catches looks, comments, and questions. On the train one day, I stand back while two men express their admiration of the disc brakes, beautiful steel frame, and bike parts, and can’t help but tell them how right they are. Its ride is smooth and is the kind of bike that makes me excited to be in the saddle, which is a good thing considering the journeys ahead.
Up until I actually got my bike, I’d been harbouring dreams of rack-less bikepacking, roaming the country with less than 15 lbs of gear. Sadly, this is not to be because the frame is small, with little clearance between handlebars/saddle and the wheels. To be fair, the length of my legs is the limiting factor here. As an old friend once said, I have stubby pistons for legs. I don't have enough space to bungee stuff sacks to the saddle or handlebars without them rubbing up against the wheel. A rack on the rear, front, or both will have to be mounted onto my bike in order to ensure that I can safely carry my belongings.
The logistics of balancing gear to see you through wildly varying terrain while not weighing you down is a doozy, and deserving of its own post. I’ll be back in a few days to tell you all about my plans for riding with as little weight as I can manage.