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I haven't gotten in much bicycling this summer -- my seat had worn out last year and I had a flat front tire, which I had tried a couple of times to fix. Last year, I had wanted some new tires in the spring, but the bike shop had put on the wrong ones and I decided not to fight them about it because I just wanted to get out and ride. But the tires were crap and didn't last even the one season. So I hadn't gotten around to getting my bike out this spring. Then, I received a surprise gift: for the work I did on the ASM website, the organizers gave me a generous gift certificate to the other bike shop in town.

A brief aside about the Pioneer Valley... People sometimes talk about 'high pressure' sales environments -- the Happy Valley is more like a 'hard vacuum' sales environment. You have to chase the sales people around to get them to sell you anything. It took multiple visits and calls before I managed to get them to order what I wanted and get it installed, but on Thursday, I got my bike back ready to go.

First, I bought a Brooks Champion Flyer saddle. I had gotten a Brooks saddle once before and really loved it. People say that you need to break them in (which is true), but my experience before, and again this time, has been that a Brooks saddle is better new than whatever saddle I was using before. The website goes to some length to convince readers that they'll be happier if they get a sprung saddle. "Really" they say. "Take our word for it. You'll be happier." So that's what I got this time -- I think they're right. It's a very comfortable saddle already.

I also got some Continental TravelContact tires. It was actually this review that caused me to buy the tires. They're remarkably good -- it's amazing what a difference good tires can make.

I rode the bike home the first day, to work and back the second day, and to Pete's (one of our usual rides) on the third day. I think I'll have to let my rump have a day off tomorrow, but next week I'll be back in the saddle again.