My NOS Cannondale CAAD 8 is now a bit over three months old. I'm really enjoying the process of growing into it, observing subtle differences in ride and fit.
The last couple of weekends, I did longer distances with a lot of climbing, and they involved some pretty steep 20- to 30-minute descents. Wow -- I really like descending on this bike. It's very, very responsive at speed, yet very stable, too. My Giant is more of a touring rig, and it's quite solid at more staid clips. The CAAD just wants to go fast; the more speed, the better it handles. I'm still getting the subtleties of going at an average pace; slight glances over the shoulder make the front wheel swing a bit, where the Giant would just plow on, ruler-straight. I like the difference, the challenge of being a more attuned rider. I'm getting better.
However, there's been one difference I don't like so much. After a couple weeks of heavy-duty climbing and intervals, I started developing a pain behind my left knee. I spent Sunday morning diagnosing the (mis-)fit, doing research on-line and in books, and comparing the CAAD to the Giant, for which I've dialed in the fit quite well.
After long stretches of measuring, reading various (and often contradictory) fitting approaches on the Web, pondering the lessons I learned from the master fitter I worked with when I lived in the Boston area, and simply sitting on the bikes and feeling the differences, I made a couple of small changes, moving the saddle about a centimeter lower and a centimeter forward. I went out for a ride, and lo and behold, my new-ish bike felt more... fitted. More me. How sweet to be able to bring to bear the fitting knowledge I've been able to gather in a couple of years of riding, to make my body more comfortable on such a lovely machine.
It's like buying a nice suit off the rack: You buy one with lustrous material and an appealing style, but it's still not quite... right. You take it to a trustworthy tailor, and when you try it on after he's done... wow. It's your suit. The next time you step out in it, you feel a certain relaxed confidence.
I can't wait to go out for a longer run tomorrow and see if that feeling holds up.
Of course, I still have to get used to the biggest difference on this bike: The standard gearing. After the triple rings and outsized cogs on the Giant, this one makes me feel weak on the hills. But I'm getting there over the weeks. Hopefully a better fit will transfer a little more power!