About a month ago, the frame came in, along with my custom Velocity wheels, built to hold true while hitting potholes with heavy loads, and my Shimano 105/Ultegra groupo. I'll admit I was pretty nervous to purchase a bike I had never ridden. I was going on specs alone--praying it would work. When the build was complete, and I decided on the saddle I wanted to spend hour upon hour on, I finally took it out for it's virgin ride last weekend. I won't go into details, but about ten miles into the ride I began to question everything. I won't lie. The ride sucked. I hated the fact I had become "soft" riding my carbon road bike. I hated riding 28 mm touring tires with a bit of tread. I hated losing the responsiveness of a short frame and I hated how my body rejected just about everything on the bike. There were moments on that ride I even questioned my upcoming tour. You see, I tend to thrive on efficiency. I don't go into those nasty, dark places triathletes do where I'd spend any amount of money on lighter frames/components, however, I also don't enjoy being on a gas guzzler. There is a balance point I strive for where calories in/calories out is close to even. Riding a fully loaded steel touring bike made me think I'd have to have an IV hooked up to me--especially in the driftless zone where food stops are few and far between.
|Adding weight plates from the gym for a loaded test ride|
I rolled home, after I'm sure pissing off my riding friends, showered, ate and moped. I didn't know what to do. Was I over touring? Had I, in a few short years of not touring, turned into a complete high maintenance roadie? This wasn't what I wanted. I wanted to head out from home, completely loaded and free from a vehicle, and explore my beautiful surroundings. I had to figure something out. And so began the twenty step process of tweaking. Handlebars, brake hoods, brake levers, seat post, saddle and on and on it went. Finally, after all these adjustments, and several fully loaded test rides, I "think" I've nailed it. Wednesday's ride finally felt good. It still wasn't easy, and I don't dare ride my carbon frame until I'm done with the tour, but I think it at least fits me. Honestly, I think I just have to get over the fact I'm going to be god awful slow on this trip. I may have to take multiple rest stops on what used to be an easy 70 mile day, but I'll make it, and dammit, I'm going to have a good time slogging up all the big hills in the Wisconsin driftless zone and eating everything in site to keep the gas tank from hitting E.
|Finally feeling good in body and mind|
This post is dedicated to Tom Barry. A wonderful neighbor and friend who was always up for a good adventure and lightened every serious issue. He could often times be found fixing all the neighborhood kid's bikes in his driveway. Ride on Tom, ride on.
|The Barry family|