I have been dying to get on my new touring build (and on a bike in general) and today's forecast looked workable so I put all kinds of gear to the test with a nice little out and back with a little hill circuit in between. Getting their inaugural uses were my new touring bike, my homemade bar-mitts and the new trunk rack.
I had to drive down to Black Brook Rd and park at Tony's house to avoid the epic mud bog that is our road currently. Gave me the opportunity to test my new Saris 1051 Sentinel. I am thinking about trying to commute more and if I want to be realistic about it I will probably need to cut out the massive hills I have to get over to get in and out of Crotchtown. Soooo I am thinking about driving to New Hampton, parking in the park-and-ride and riding the 15mi from there. Basically flat and straight, much more doable on a daily basis. The fenders prevent the use of a fork mount roof rack, hence trunk rack. Plus now in the time that we might be going on a ride with 3-4 guys we can take less cars. GREEN.
It works great for a 'budget' model. Easy to set up and feels pretty solid so far. Granted I drove 1mi down the road, but that road was a mud/rally fest so there is that. It will be interesting to see how easily you can get 2 bikes on there and how well it supports all that extra weight. Time will tell, but so far I am pleased.
Next piece of new gear was my (or more accurately OUR, Gina did all the sewing) homemade bar-mitts. I did not design these with this bike or flared drop bars in mind so this was more of a maybe it will work/just want to see if they keep my hands warm type test. They performed awesome with the latter, temps at ride time were probably in the low 30's and my hands were just fine. They fit a bit awkward on the Midge bars but I was able to make it work and I will probably be able to use them commuting if needed without much issue. They will definitely be perfect for the winter rides I get in here and there.
material was wetsuit neoprene stolen from some ancient wetsuit tops that don't get any use really so, YOINK!
You can see they sit at a slightly weird angle but they cover what they have to. They were a bit tricky to get into but I managed.
Velcro runs along one edge for opening them up to install. Hard to tell in these pics but they are also fleece lined. We Rule.
And finally the new bike. Love it. Probably one of the better, more successful builds I have ever done. Everything worked great right from the get go...usually there is always at least one little thing that is loose or needs adjusting. I think I might need to tweak the reach a tiny bit but the jury is still out...I want to ride it a few more times before I decide. I think the bar mitts may have been making me sit a bit weird to get my hands in there and that might have been contributing. If anything I think I might need to ditch the high rise stem and stretch things out just a tiny bit more maybe 5mm-1cm or so. Anybody have a 90 or 100mm stem with about 5 degrees of rise kicking around? Other than that good to go; stable, comfy, climbs better than I was anticipating.
Most of the ride was a cruise but I gave it a go here and there and felt pretty good. I was really pleased with how things went on some of the climbs. My leg strength/power has definitely increased with some of the work I have been doing this winter. I also actually had some power to put down at lactate threshold which in years past is one place I struggled. Soon as the burn got real bad I would fizzle and today I was able to go just that little bit deeper/longer to get me over that hump where in the past I would have dumped gears and sat up.
Motivation is good as well. After my first run at Perley Hill I turned left to swing around for another go. Hadn't been part of the original plan but it felt appropriate and both times felt strong. Was able to sit and churn much bigger gears than I feel like I've been able to muster in the past when climbing steeper stretches like Perley.
Good signs for a hopefully great season.