Variety is the spice of life

Stretch yourself this week: ride something different

Variety is the spice of life, as the saying goes, and the same is true for spicing up one's routine in the saddle, something I've been striving to do this past year. Why settle for riding the same old bike, wearing the same old clothes, and pedaling the same old route?

To wit: just this past week, I've ridden a Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen while bike camping with friends in Walnut Creek, California, chased other friends around Fremont Older Open Space Preserve on my Gaansari Whirlwind rigid steel monster 'crosser, rolled over hill and dale with my teenage kids in Saratoga Gap on Rob Roskopp's Santa Cruz Blur LTc, and had my spleen handed to me on a Specialized lunch ride while riding my Gaansari Van Cleve lightweight steel road bike.

Of course, every bike requires an appropriate costume. For the camp out, it was a 30-year-old cotton Campagnolo t-shirt with three pockets on the back and Endura 3/4 knickers, a cotton cycling cap, yellow bandana and Keen shoes. Fremont Older was more of a lycra affair, with dedicated mountain bike shoes and clipless pedals, as were the other two rides, one with the same Endura knickers and the other in Specialized kit head to toe (when in Rome, right?).

Coming back from my overnight camping trip recently, I had planned to ride the epic Soquel Demo near Santa Cruz with my riding buddy Chris P., but work was getting the best of him, and there was little left in his tank for a two-hour hard lung burner through the redwood forest. Fortunately, I was heading to Santa Cruz Bicycles to pick up a new test bike, and Chris joined me for the 35-minute drive over the mountain on Highway 17. Sometimes a bike company visit is a fine substitute for a bike ride. Sometimes.

BikeRadar contributor and former pro racer Joe Parkin lives just a stone's throw away from the House that Rob Roskopp Built (and Steve Peat just brought attention to), so Chris and I paid Joe a visit.

After shooting the breeze about this and that -- most of it relating to bicycles, naturally -- Joe graciously opened the door to his new garage. Much to Chris's delight, several mud- and dust-crusted Yeti, Santa Cruz and Time bikes were leaning against the wall. We spoke of epic rides at Downieville, Whistler, and local trails. Chris was spent with excitement, listening to Joe's recount of recent rides with friends and his fiancée.

Of course, Joe's account was made popular with his first book, A Dog In A Hat. We interrupted Joe as he was wrapping up the last chapter or so of his follow-up book, due this winter. Joe was one of American's only participants in the world championships in road, cross-country and cyclo-cross, and survived Paris-Roubaix.

For my money, Joe Parkin is the epitome of variety. He has the closet of kit and stable of bikes to prove it. 

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