Spent a good half the day yesterday assembling the new steed, which was great. Even learned some new wrenching skills!
Of course, once it was done, I took it out for a ride. Generally speaking, it felt terrific (and looked even better). However, my impressions are watered down by a number of factors: 1) I've had a respiratory cold/infection for three and a half weeks, which I'm just now fighting down. I lost quite a bit of training time and fitness during this stretch, and I felt weak yesterday (though delighted to be riding outside). 2) Between the lengthy low temps, the snow and the illness, I haven't ridden outside in weeks. All riding's been on the rollers. 3) There was a major winter headwind/crosswind most of the way and a lot of ice and sand and general shmutz all over the roads. Add to this all the tiny questions buzzing around in my head like mosquitoes -- what's that noise? Did I adjust the derailleur correctly? -- and all the sundry new elements like geometry, saddle, major differences in drivetrain feel... well, there were too many things to parse out when forming an opinion about the bike.
It would have been nice if the first ride had blown me away, but this is a lesson I have learned from life: The best improvements usually reveal themselves layer by layer, over time. I really, really like this bike, but in order to appreciate its many benefits, to clearly hear its whisperings, to roll the improvement around on my tongue and savor its true bouquet, I simply am going to have to regain my fitness and clock a lot of miles in the saddle. One crisp day in April or so, I'm going to sit up in the saddle after a long climb up a familiar hill, or a screaming descent down a local mountain, and go, "Woah! Now I get it."
So, I just forgot it all and enjoyed the ride with whatever fitness and bike-fit was there for me. Things got much better after that!
For the record, the final assembled product is pictured below. (I'll take better pix later -- I wanted to get out and ride, not play photographer.) I'm already assembling a list of tweaks it needs, such as a more appropriate stem (also allowing a better seat-to-bar drop), pedals that aren't 100 years old, tires, and more. But for now -- don't it look sharp?
Later: Just got back from ride #2, and it's already sinking in on a deeper level. Felt a tad more peppy today, so stomped it over some rises, did a wee bit of time trialing, and a brief sprint. I know it's all been said before, but when I stand up and sprint, it genuinely feels like the beast is leaping ahead of me, dragging me along. How great is that?! And at time-trial speed, it was like the road was ribboning behind me, the machine hugged each tiny swell and dip -- I guess the best way I can say it is, it felt like speed.
I hope every ride continues to peel away the veil to reveal little moments like that!