Saturday, February 28, 2009
November 5, 2008. That is how long it has been. And, I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that it has been just as long since I have turned a pedal. I had fully intended to put the bike on a trainer over the winter, if for no other reason than to continue tweaking my riding position on the bike in an attempt to get more comfortable. But alas, that didn't happen.
This isn't to say that I have lost interest. Actually, as the weather in Chicago has begun hinting around at getting less awful, I have been getting pretty anxious to ride again. In fact, I brought the road bike into the house last week and dusted it off. I also installed some new equipment, and re-installed some old equipment which has made me even more antsy to ride.
First, I decided to install yet another handlebar stem. I had already gone from the OE 110mm stem to a 90mm stem last season. That made the ride a bit more comfortable for me, but I still ended up with the seat as far forward as I could get it. On a couple of my last rides, I noticed that if I pushed myself back on my seat a bit with my arms I felt as if I could generate a stronger pedal stroke. That got me to thinking that maybe having my seat all the way forward, while comfortable for my arms, back and hands, might have me positioned a too far head of the cranks. So I decided to go down to a 70mm stem and move the seat back a just a bit. I hope that I will end up in essentially the same position on the bike as far as my reach from the seat to the handle bars, but move my overall position on the bike back a bit. I also went to a stem with a steep 30 degree rise. My thinking here is that the slightly more upright position on the bike will be a little more comfortable still for the long rides. I am definitely getting that century ride done in 2009, so I'm setting the bike up more as a tourer and less as a speed demon.
Along those same lines, I felt that the tires were due for a change. The bike was wearing the original 700 x 23c Continental Ultra Sports that came on the bike. I don't think they had many miles put on them by the original owner, and I put less then 400 on them last season, but I thought I could see some cracking in the sidewalls near the beads. Since tires aren't terribly expensive and can vastly change the bikes handling characteristics, I decided to go ahead and make a swap. I read tire reviews and opinions until I was blue in the face, and finally settled on a new set of Continental 4000's. Based on some other things I had read, I decided to go from a 23c tire size to a 25c. The tires are just slightly more "plump" then the 23c's. From what I have read, I will probably not notice any significant drag due their increased size, but the ride may be smoothed a bit. This will be nice for these nasty Chicago streets and will hopefully fend off fatigue to some degree as my distances increase. I half wished I had taken a few rides on the old tires prior to switching, just to get a better feel, but when they arrived, I just got too excited and mounted them up.
Finally, I re-installed the aerobars that were on the bike when I bought it. This also goes back to my planning for longer rides. Especially now that I have raised the bars a bit with the new stem, I thought I might actually make use of the aerobars now and then, just to have another position to ride in from time to time. And what the heck - they look cool too.
Aside from adding a small top tube mounted bag for snacks, that is about the extent of changes I've made to the bike. It is leaning against the wall near me right now, calling out to me to be ridden...
Soon we will ride, Mr. Fuji... Soon we will ride.
at 5:20 PM