OK, I admit it, I'm becoming a little obsessed with bike racing and, especially bikes!
Although Lance Armstrong's famous first biography is called "It's Not About the Bike", recently for me it has been all about the bike and I have done a huge amount of reading about tri bikes, geometry, fitting, components and so on as I agonize over the whens, whats and hows of buying a triathlon bike.
I did recently make a good move in the right direction when I bought a very nice used Zipp 808 wheelset. For the uninitiated, these are lightweight and aerodymanic race wheels that, theoretically, can save a few seconds here and there. What I can say for certain (having not yet taken them out for a spin) is that they look super cool and, if nothing else, will make me feel faster! :-)
My original thought was that it might be fun (and a good learning experience) to buy a frame set and build a bike from the ground up. This is still very much in the back of my mind (I even cleaned out my workshop!) but my enthusiasm has been tempered slightly by some sweet end-of-season deals that I've found for complete 2011 model bikes. Decisions, decisions! One possibility is to buy a tri bike but then build a knock around mountain bike or cyclocross bike. So many fun options! I'll keep you informed!
On top of this bike obsession, I have also become fascinated with bike racing and racers. I have always enjoyed watching the Tour de France, but since I have started riding and training on the bike in earnest, I have taken this interest to a whole new level. The tactics (and politics) of team road racing are fascinating. Perhaps even better is the history! My recent reads (in addition to the afore mentioned "It's Not About the Bike") have included:
Tour de Lance by Bill Strickland - the story of Lance Armstrong's second Tour de France comeback in 2009
We Might as Well Win - Johan Bruyneel - Lance Armstrong's manager's account of his seven wins
A Race for Madmen - Chris Sidwells - a history of the Tour de France
Fallen Angel - William Fotheringham - the story of Fausto Coppi, fallen hero of Italian cycling who was even excommunicated by the Pope! (fascinating!)
Slaying the Badger - Richard Moore - the story of the Lemond Hinault rivalry
Still to come.....
Put Me Back on the Bike - William Fotheringham - the story of Tom Simpson
Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape - Paul Howard - the story of Jacques Anquetil
In Search of Robert Millar - Richard Moore
Wide-Eyed and Legless - Jeff Connor - story of the 1987 Tour de France
We Were Young and Carefree - Laurent Fignon biography
Rough Ride - Paul Kimmage - Inside scoop on professional cycling
Tourmen - Les Woodland - famous Tour riders
Ascent: the Mountains of the Tour de France - Richard Yates/Gabor Konrad
The Story of the Tour de France Vols I & II - Bill McGann
Boy Racer - Mark Cavendish autobiography
.....and that's just scratching the surface! Should keep me busy for a while!
I particularly love all of the "old school" stuff. If you have some time to spare, check out this 90 min video of the Paris Roubaix race in 1976: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4IDCkcnnHg Awesome!