Saturday, June 27, 2009
A new friend
Yes, it's true. I have an upright. :-)
I purchased a lovely used Bianchi Castro Valley from Joe last weekend, and have put about 110 miles on it during my commute this week thus far. Reasonable gearing (8 speeds, sufficient for me to get up to a decent speed on the flats, and to crawl up McClure at a snail's pace); dynamo hub paired with an IQ Fly (astoundingly nice headlight, compared to the DLumotec I've been using on the P-38), and a Shimano bar-end shifter paired with a Paul's Thumbie mount on Nitto Promenade bars. Oh, yeah, and XTR brakes with which I've already fallen in love. Some dings, some rust, but hey, it's a commuter.
So, why? Why, I hear you ask? Well, there are various reasons. First and foremost, the RANS Rocket on which I commute is in dire need of some love. The seat's about shot, the drivetrain is in less-than-stellar shape, and the frame could use a bit of paint or powder to prevent a terminal case of corrosion. I have a plan for a rebuild, but it's going to take a while to gather all the needed bits. It made sense to drop a few bucks on a machine that I could use ASAP, rather than rush the Rocket rebuild. Secondly, I've been wanting a decent upright for a while. Never having ridden one to any great extent, it seemed like a fun break from the 'bents, as well as an easy way to make use of accessories for the kiddies like Trail-a-bikes that are significantly harder to get working with the 'bents. That said, I have no intentions of leaving the recumbent fold...I'm merely expanding my horizons...
It's been an interesting week, full of discovery, adventure, and (a new experience) saddle discomfort. Things I like: the height, and ability to stand tall on the pedals to see from a more altitudinous vantage point; the handling, as it seems to work well with my drunken-monkey pedaling style; the ability to stand and power on the cranks for short periods is all kinds of spiffy. Things I dislike: the height, as it feels like I'm on a frickin' circus bike; the saddle, as my nether parts are not exactly inured to such pressures; and, although it may sound odd, the fact that most people could just hop on and ride off.
I'm already thinking about some changes: Joe supplied the bike with lots of extra bits, including the original drop bars, and experimentation has shown me that I feel more comfortable bent over a bit farther than the Promenades and current riser encourage. I'd have to drop a few bucks on some Tektro levers capable of pulling my XTR brakes, but that's a fairly trivial expense. Also, although I'm not going to jump the gun for at least a couple of hundred more miles, I may well invest in a Brooks saddle.
My lack of mad skillz must be addressed forthwith. I need to work on a couple of major areas, including one-handed operation (gotta be able to carry the coffee cup), slow-speed (okay, all-speed) turns, bunny hops and curb climbing, and graceful mounts and dismounts (it ain't pretty, believe you me!). Most of this will come with practice; it's just very odd to be a confident and moderately fit commuter, with minimal handling skills on the bike in use. I'm liking it, though...it has really added a lot of joy to turning over the pedals this week. Not that cycling is tedious, but it's nice to shake things up once in a while.