I am not a very competitive person. Not really. Oh, sure, I like to participate in the occasional race. And when I do, I can’t sleep for about three weeks before that race. And I tend to get obsessed with that race.
And then I look for every possible advantage I can get in the race.
And on race day, I pretty much kill myself trying to attack and destroy every person I can in the race.
But other than that, I’m not really a very competitive person.
Which leads us to the Life Time Fitness Leadman Tri I’ll be racing in as part of a relay this September. Yeah, that’s the one where I have an open bet with anyone who thinks they can beat my time on the bike section of the race (click here for more details on how you can enter). And if you do, you get this t-shirt:
Sure, in a way that’s like getting a t-shirt that says “Taller than Hervé Villechaize,” but still: they’re cool-looking t-shirts.
And I really don’t want very many people to own them.
So I contacted Chris at Specialized, and told him all about the poem I wrote about my Stumpy SS, and how I love that bike so much, and how I was going to be doing the bike part of this triathlon soon and that the only non-mountain bike I have is a straight-up regular road bike, and how I really didn’t want to give away a whole bunch of t-shirts.
“I’ll see what I can do,” Chris said.
And so yesterday, I got this box:
And inside that box was this bike:
Yes, I am now in possession of one Specialized Shiv Expert, a Tri-specific (as in, it totally gives the bird to the UCI and its rules) aerodynamic freak of engineering.
How excited am I? Oh, I’d rate it up there in the “stratospherically ridiculously excited” zone, I think.
So excited, in fact, that I ignored the fact that I have a ton of things I need to do right now and built up the bike (that makes it sound like I actually assembled the bike, but really all I had to do was put the wheels on, attach the bars, put some pedals on and plug in the seatpost). Then I ignored that I’m supposed to be tapering right now and got on the bike, riding thirty hard miles.
On a type of bike I’ve never ridden before, in a brand-new position.
Hey, it’s a new bike. You would have done the exact same thing.
What It’s Like to Ride the Shiv
I admit, I was afraid to ride this bike for the first time. You see, I love watch how incredibly fast an accomplished cyclist can be on a purpose-built machine like this. Love it.
And I knew, deep within my heart — and head — that I would not look or ride like one of those fast guys. Not on my first ride.
I knew, basically, that I was deeply unworthy of this bike. It is built for the expert- and pro-level rider who’s needing to eek out a couple of extra seconds to get on the podium. Whereas I am a complete and utter novice with no form and no idea what I’m doing.
But that certainly wasn’t going to stop me from trying.
The first thing I noticed when riding the Shiv is that nothing is where I expected it to be, and how disconcerting that can be at first. I really hadn’t considered how reflexive the motions to shift and brake are. Or how my hands want to go to the — now nonexistent — hoods.
I’ll learn all of that again. Eventually.
The next thing that I noticed was that as I dropped into the TT position, how awesome it immediately felt.
Honestly, I was sure it was going to feel swervy and out of control and ridiculous. But it wasn’t like that. Instead, I found that when I got into that tuck (not as low as I wanted; I’ll be tweaking the bar height down quite a bit), I just wanted to go.
When I needed to shift, I just flipped the index shifters.
When I needed a drink, I just grabbed the tube (which is otherwise connected to my bar extensions with a magnet) that goes into the drinking system that’s actually integrated into the down tube.
For those of you who geek out the way I do over stuff like this, here’s the bladder that gets stuffed into the down tube:
It’s called the “Fuelselage” system. Clever.
And in general, I’m just hauling, and feeling really fast, knowing that I shouldn’t be going this hard so soon before a race, but you know that this isn’t a bike for dawdling. And so I keep hammering away, my back as low and flat as I can make it be without my knees crushing into my stomach.
In my mind, I am a bolt of lightning.
And since I had the foresight to not bring a bike computer, there’s no way this sense can be disproved. Yet.
This feeling of unstoppable speed continued . . . ’til I needed to slow down.
And that’s when I had my moment of terror. I needed to slow down! Now! But there were no brakes! WHY DOESN’T THIS BIKE HAVE ANY BRAKES?
Oh. There they are. Everything’s OK now. But how do I shift?
Clearly, I still have some acclimating to do.
Which, unfortunately, is going to have to wait ’til I get back from the Leadville 100 and Breck Epic. Which I should probably start packing for, since I’m leaving tomorrow.
But first I think I’ll go take the Shiv out for one more ride.
PS: There were actually two boxes that arrived yesterday. This is what came in the other one:
I think I’ll wear it during the Leadville 100. It’ll go awesome with my skinsuit.