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"The bike is like a beautiful woman, to be appreciated every day."

It sounds even better in Italian, when Paolo Bettini says it, in the new promo video on this new mini site by Specialized, who scored a major coup whe the Quick Step team signed on to ride their bikes this year.

You ever hear someone describe what it feels like to be in love, to have found a partner? Invariably the definition is nebulous and imprecise, but if you've actually felt it you can understand with perfect clarity. If you can't see into a lover's definition of love, you haven't been there yourself yet. For me, my fiancee's definition hit closest to home when she said she believed that a partnership is "a home for the soul, and a place for dialogue."

So Paolo says, "The bike is like a beautiful woman, to be appreciated every day," and you either get it or you don't. And if you do, it's because you know what it's like to have a partner in your bike - one you can count on, that (I'll stop short of saying 'who') inspires you, that enables you to be more of the You you want to be. Because I believe a bike should do that - it should make you feel lucky every day to have found it.

If you don't get it, you don't have the right bike.

Floyd's new bike (or, How to Build a Remarkable Ride)

It's rare when a highly-visible pro actually gets some say in their own equipment (in any sport, for that matter). Floyd Landis now has that opportunity, on account of he doesn't have a team. Say what you want about Floyd - believe him or no - but the guy's got a strong personality, style and a sense of humor. You see all of it in his new bike, which was just featured in one of Bicycling Magazine's blogs.

The bike was a gift from Saris (PowerTap), for Floyd to ride at his Training with Power camp. It's a Pegoretti built out of Scandium, with SRAM Force, Wheelbuilder.com wheels with the PowerTap SL hub, and I think a Salsa stem, which pays a little homage to Floyd's MTB roots.

The most remarkable feature of the bike though is printed all over the frame. Floyd's evidently a big "Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey fan, and the frame is practically wallpapered with his quotations, including:

- "Smith and Wesson: The original point and click interface"
- "If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes?"
- "If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?"
- "Where do forest rangers go to get away from it all?"
-  "There's no future in time travel"

Funny, and remarkable in that the bike becomes a microcosm of Floyd's personality. I just rebuilt a bike myself - a 1993 handbuilt steel frame I used to race. The bike had tons of character but at 22.5 lbs wasn't very competitive. I got it down to about 18 lbs and like it so much it'll be my main race bike this year.

One of the reasons I wanted to rebuild it was to have a remarkable bike to race. A bike is a very personal choice, but the last team I was on had me ride a fairly unremarkable big-name, seen-in-every-shop, 2-dozen-in-every-pack frame, with Dura-Ace and Ksyrium SLs, etc. The bike positively dripped with technology, but lacked character. And ultimately I realized, I'm just not good enough a racer to have to ride someone else's bike choice. It's one advantage to being mediocre - people may notice what I DO ride, but no one will take note of what I DON'T ride.

So when rebuilding my bike I thought about what makes a bike remarkable, and aimed for it. I think in short, it's a commitment to deliberate choices, instead of shoulder-shrugging acceptance of what's readily available or safe. For me, that meant SRAM Force gruppo and cranks (compact), a Ritchey WCS Bar, Stem and Headset (a nod to my MTB background as well, as well as my bike's roots - it's a Brodie Rodie, made by a company in Vancouver BC that's almost exclusively mountain bikes), handbuilt wheels around black Mavic Open Pro rims, and an old-school looking Selle Italia seat.

And I found out there are ways to make a bike remarkable through details that don't require a $1500 overhaul, like these customized frame stickers, or even doing a short run of your own customized watter bottles (if you spend $60 each for a pair of carbon bottle cages, you can pony up $100 for 15 race day watter bottles with your name - or anything else - on them).