It’s ALL about the bike.

My first road bike, after the banana seat and streamers phase, was the most expensive bike in the shop. Italian-made, red steel, and with Campy parts. I spent an entire year of babysitting money to buy it. And I felt really cool on that thing.

Paul Nolan got me interested in riding even before Breaking Away came out. We’d head out early Saturday mornings and go on long rides on the country roads of Berkey, Ohio, where nary a car passed by, there was not a hill in sight, and the biggest danger were the barnyard dogs from the farms. And they were dangerous – baring their teeth, biting at the tires. Paul liked to smack ’em with his portable tire pump. I doused ’em with water. Sometimes we carried a spray bottle with ammonia. That produced a lot of great dog noises and could probably be classified as cruel and unusual. But then so was the bared teeth and biting.

When I moved to Southern California, nothing prepared me for the hills. Whereas before I could whip off a century in four hours, now I was facing brutal climbs where I couldn’t crack 10 miles per hour. Or really even 5. I hung up my bike for film school. The only riding I did was for the first film I made at CalArts, a one-minute short featuring that red Italian Torpado.

Twenty-five years later I was still riding that thing… Until I hooked up with a couple of guys for early morning training and one of them, Steve, told me I could shave 10% off my time and limit the road vibration with a new bike. Done.

I bought a $4000 Team Raleigh for $1500 used. Airplane aluminum. Carbon fork and seat stays. Campy Record components. I rode the hell out of that bike. Even beat the guys up the hills a lot. Enough so they stopped riding with me. My century time in the mountains of SoCal was always above five hours. But that’s pretty good for the hills.

Just before my birthday this year a large check arrived unexpectedly. My parents gave their car to my sister and, in an effort to be fair, gave me a check to match the value of it. It basically burned a hole in my pocket. I’d already decided to upgrade some of the components on my bike. I wanted the hot new carbon crank ($500) and titanium sprockets that gave me more options for climbing ($250). If this means anything to you, I was riding an 11-21 sprocket which is great for professional sprinters, not so great for 40 year old women climbing hills.

So when that check arrived, so did this question? Am I going to put all these new parts on an old frame?

Certainly not!

The frame of my dreams was always a De Rosa. Italian-made, handcrafted, ultra-cool. They were always far too expensive. But now… Mine, mine, all mine.

However, a funny thing happened there in the bike shop. I didn’t like the newest De Rosa models. They weren’t cool. They didn’t ooze craftsmanship like they once did.

So, welcome to obsession-ville.

I researched bikes like a cancer patient researches drugs. And it came down to the Colnago and the Time. The high-end Colnago is the best-reviewed bike out there. Ernesto Colnago oversees the production of each handmade frame himself. And he turned to another famous Italian to help develop his carbon fiber – Ferrari. All this comes at a cost, of course.

Time doesn’t have the same press. None of the magazines that put out yearly reviews ever mention Time – not that I’ve seen. Do they not submit bikes for review? If you’re an obsessive research-junkie like me, you do your own review. Scratch the surface and you’ll discover that Ferrari or not, Time is doing carbon fiber like no-body! Whereas other manufacturers buy sheets of carbon they mold into a bike, Time makes their own carbon, they weave it with two other materials, Vectran and Kevlar, and then they layer it with resin into specific shapes. It makes it stronger, lighter and more vibration-dampening. If you look at most carbon bike frames, you’ll find that the tubes are cylinders that, like straws, don’t vary in shape. Time tubes are oval and diamond-shaped. They make asymmetrical chainstays because the drive train (all those back sprockets) is on the right side and so the force exerted on the chainstay is different on each side. Oh, and they also reinforce the seat tube and the steering tube in a really cool way that’s too hard to explain and sorta must be seen.

Have I bored you yet?

Um, yeah, I bought the Time. I was totally sold by all that, the lifetime warranty, and the fact that many other bike manufacturers use Time forks. Oh, right, and they gave me a loaner bike for a week to test it out and make sure I loved it.

Italian? No. It’s French. France is the new Italy – at least it is to me. My amazing little bike (and I was slightly disheartened to discover I was an Extra Small in the frame measuring department) was handmade by some little Frenchman I like to call Pierre. Now, I am so a Time girl and happy to have switched nationalities to the home of the Tour de France. I even just emailed the local Time rep, Gille Lalonde, and asked him if he’d send me some Time stickers for my bike helmet.

Enough already.