Sunday, February 8, 2009

All Together Now

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!


Suitcase of Courage said...

Looks fantastic! And you're braver than I - I wouldn't have even taken it outside with all the schmutz! But then again you'd get the pleasure of cleaning it.

BTW, do you know whether that's a short cage rear derailleur?

WRT the stem - keep in mind that you should be able to flip it over. It'll be lower then.

Velosopher said...

There was no way I wasn't going to ride my brand-new bike, esp. with temps above 30 for the first time in weeks and me feeling a tad better. But I'll admit that every time I rode over wet sand, I winced and gritted my teeth!

Don't think it's a short cage, but could be wrong. Will try to remember to double check.

Can't really flip that stem, would put the bars too low overall. Might transfer my Espresso stem from the OCR (a pretty nice stem), which has the added benefit of an extra 15 mm.

You should see it, SoC -- it's a thing of beauty. And yes, I lovingly cleansed it after both rides!

Glenn_in_MA said...

Hard not to want to get out and ride on that beautiful machine!

I was away for the weekend (NJ) and upon returning happy to see how much snow/ice was gone...but dismayed at the amount of sand and potholes the melting revealed. Bummer

Velosopher said...

Yup, Glenn -- The roads were pretty gross around here, too! Wow. Tough winter!

No One Line said...

I've got no doubt that once it's fitted to your liking, once you've got your legs underneath you, and once the roads are a bit less grimey, you'll appreciate every high-quality element of the bike. you'll feel that stiff bb shell when you climb, and that fork when you descend, and those components when you're sprinting. don't rush it - it will come. cheers! happy new bike day!

Velosopher said...

Well said, NOL. Thank you.

Rode it on the rollers this morning -- wow, really different from the OCR, which I've been able to ride really stably (is that a word?). The shorter wheel base and more aggressive geometry are all magnified after an hour. Where I can watch movies or zone out on the old one, the CAAD demands all my attention... But once I master it on the rollers, I believe I'll be that much more master of it on the road!