Monday, May 5, 2014

4 Years Later and Still Rolling

Well, well, well.  It’s been quite some time since posting a ride write up, has it not?  Perhaps it’s time to fix that.

After a brutal winter with near record snowfall and several visits from the Polar Vortex, April finally rolled around.  It wasn’t the warmest of Aprils, but it was certainly more conducive to getting out on the roads than anything since October.  Even with cooler temps, I was able to get out for 400 miles to start shaking the winter atrophy out of my legs and lungs.  Motivation comes easier when you pick up a new bike, as well.  First one in 9 years for me.

So why restart the blog?  For one, it’s a simple way to get my mind flowing.  For another, it’s a motivational tool for longer range goals this year.  And still another, it’s selfish little time capsule for me and anyone else entertained enough to read along.

So with that, here are a couple of things happening.  First, the new bike.  After 9 years on the old Felt F65, which is still functional, but definitely has seen better days, I upgraded. The remnants from the original bike left are: frame, fork, seatpost, rear derailleur, and left STI shifter. Otherwise, there was a lot of lipstick trying to make that pig look good.  When the opportunity to pick up a brand new ride came along, I finally jumped.  It’s a new Giant TCR Advanced.   The frame is a big step up in quality for me.  It’s responsive in a big way when jumping on the pedals or moving up a hill – not that I’m fast on either of those counts, but I can tell a difference from the less rigid bottom bracket on the aluminum Felt. 

After an April spent retracing flat, windswept local roads near home, I headed up to SW Wisconsin over the weekend to see if my legs could still handle the hills.  Slow as I was and as tough as the wind was from the NNW, I did feel pretty good getting up the roads, such as Pinnacle, Lake View, Mounds Park, and Braun.  A bit of this feeling better I attribute to the solid response from the bike.  A bit of it I attribute to having a bailout of 34x28 on the Ultegra 11 speed.  I’ve been riding a 11-26 cassette,  for a long time on the Felt, so those extra two teeth on the 11-28 make a big difference when faced with sitting down and grinding gears up 15+% of rough pavement.

The wind was fierce, so it wasn’t a day to break any downhill records.  The long descent on County F from Brigham Park down to County J felt like the wind-buffeted ride off of Grand Mesa back in 2009.  A forcefully headwind made me feel like I was slowing down on the descent of Barlow Rd.  I think I hit ~51 mph there, but without the wind I might have had a new personal land speed record.  There’s always next time.

In any case, it was excellent to get back into the hills after being away for over two years.  The bummer being that our old friends at Uphill Grind Coffee & Bikes are no longer serving the Cross Plains area.  When I win the big lottery, I’m putting them back in business.

More to come (famous last blog words).

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