|My Serenity's remains.|
Some of you may know that I had a rather traumatizing incident while driving home, with my friend Nils, after a night race at Hellyer Park's velodrome. 15 minutes after leaving Hellyer we heard a weird thump from above. We stared at each other, I immediately stopped my car and we both got out to see what was wrong. What was wrong was that my beloved Serenity Marvel track-racing bike had fallen off of my car's roof rack! As we stood at the side of Highway 17 an oncoming Jeep, with a shower of sparks underneath it as it ground my bike into the pavement, told me that I'd need a new bike. It was on Friday the 13th of June, no less! In 25 years of hauling bikes, this was the first time this happened to me. But the story has a happy ending.
I'm very fortunate that I have both homeowner's and auto insurance from AAA. I honestly believe that not only are they awesome, but having both covered by the same company ensures that I will be more likely to be compensated for my loss (when you have different companies for each coverage both can claim the other is responsible). I was able to quickly get a check for the full replacement cost, whew!
After looking at my options and talking with various friends at the track, as well as my coach, I decided to give our local hero, Bobby Walthour, my business. He started a bike-building company in the last few years, and is a highly-respected track cyclist with an impressive family legacy to follow. I was also able to test-ride one of his Dixie Flyer Bicycles (named after his great-grandfather, a world champion from track-cycling's heyday!) before making my decision, and was very happy with it.
One of the problems I've had with track bikes is that I sometimes get a high-speed wobble in the front wheel, which is obviously very dangerous and detrimental to my competitiveness. Some of it is no doubt due to my riding style, but I am also certain that some of it is due to the bike itself, so the importance of the bike's characteristics cannot be overstated. The geometry of the Dixie Flyer "BTB" is slightly different from that of my old Serenity Marvel. Also, the 56 cm size of the Dixie Flyer's carbon frame is closer to ideal for my physique, as I was in between the available Serenity frame sizes (54 cm and 57 cm).
Bobby delivered the bike to my house, personally, after it arrived from Taiwan, where the frame production is outsourced (almost every carbon frame in the world is built in China or Taiwan). Within just a couple of days I was able to install my old bike's surviving parts onto the new frame. Unfortunately the pedals, handlebars, stem, and saddle were beyond repair; the wheels (fortunately not my Zipp racing wheels!) too, of course. I was able to upgrade the pedals (to "VP"s with built-in strap holders) and the handlebars to 3T Scattos, an amazingly tough sprinter's setup, so that, too, is an improvement.
The finish is top-notch, with smooth carbon and perfect paint. I like the sturdy dropouts, and the chain-tensioning screws (they are great for preventing wheel-axle slippage without the need for high nut torque which causes dropout deformation). The seatpost is a standard round mountain-bike post, which is more sturdy and dependable than the fancy carbon aero posts (which tend to slip or break).
The proof is in the pudding, as they say, so I was very anxious to test-ride my new bike at Hellyer's 23°-banked, 335 m velodrome. I'm very happy to say that it performed beautifully on the first attempt, and in all of my subsequent sessions there, as well as in an awesome racing event at the StubHub VELO Sport Center's indoor 250 m (45° banking) velodrome in Carson, near Los Angeles. And not once have I experienced wobble!
|My completed Dixie Flyer BTB track-racing bike.|
The frame is ideal for sprints and standing-start races, as well as mass-start races, but Bobby has even won Nationals time-trials with his. He also sells a road-bike frame. The bike hasn't needed any adjustments at all, and (knock on wood) has been stable at all times. I look forward to racing it throughout the 2015 season!