Saturday, 19 March 2011

'Tis the Season!

Today was the first time we've ridden our roadbikes since December, and it was a wonderful 27 mile ride. The weather was not as nice as we'd hoped (very windy and the temperature 10°F lower than the forecast promised), but at least the snow was gone. I wore two layers of wool, thin gloves and a hat. Other than my nose running, all was good. Using the trainer over the winter certainly paid off, and I did not feel as out of shape as I'd anticipated. The trainer has also taught me to use lower gearing and spin faster. While it's been somewhat annoying to "reprogram" my style of cycling, I think it's ultimately better for me in the long run.

I took the Bianchi on the start-of-the-season ride, because I was excited to finally test it for real - going as fast as I wanted without worrying about ice patches. I am now more impressed than ever with its handling. It is faster than my other bikes - which may very well be from the more leaned forward position it places me in, but the difference is noticeable. It is also more comfortable than any other roadbike I've ridden with the exception of my Rivendell. The positioning feels just right, and the ride is cushy over bumps. Since the roads are completely messed up from the snow right now, I got to test this aspect of ride quality more than I would have liked, and it really was great. My problem with roadbikes that feel harsh over pot holes is twofold: First, it's painful. And second, it's difficult to control the bike if it bounces, especially with narrow tires. So when a bike is able to "swallow" pot holes and road bumps, it makes me feel a great deal safer and more confident. Not sure whether it's the tubing, the geometry, or the wheels of the Bianchi that are responsible for the great ride quality (it's not the tires, because at least 2 other bikes fitted with identical tires felt worse), but whatever it is, I'm glad.

Though my ideal standover height would be 2cm lower, I don't feel that the top tube clearance on the 54cm (center-to-center) frame is a problem. There is a gray cable that runs along the top of the toptube, and that contacts my inseam. But the toptube itself does not - there is probably 5mm of room there.

One benefit to riding this larger frame, is that there is no toe overlap. Were I to fit this bicycle with fenders, there would be - but as is, my foot clears the front wheel completely even during the most extreme turns possible (I've experimented). This is another aspect of the bike that makes me feel confident on it. I can handle toe-overlap on bikes that I know have it, but when given a choice I prefer no overlap.

The Co-Habitant was back on his Motobecane as well, and we were well matched speed-wise with me on the Bianchi. And I know what you're thinking: That poor man, riding the same beat up old roadbike while I luxuriate in choice. What can I say - I agree. Believe it or not he has been impossible to convince that he needs a new bike... until now. It is very likely indeed that he will have a new steed this summer, but I will leave the details a mystery for now. In the meanwhile, I'm just glad that both the weather and our work schedules have finally cooperated and we were able to ride together again. Hurray for spring!


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