Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Comfortable Bicycle

Last night, Sam and I went on a little group ride to get out of the house and ride bikes for a bit. I was feeling nauseous before we left and didn't think I was going to ride at all, but decided it was worth a go to see if the feelings waned before we got too far along. As luck would have it, I was perfectly fine for the whole ride, and made it through without issue.
Towards the end of our group ride
**Photo by Peter Schow
As a quick side note, if you're in the area, this is a great group to ride with at a slower-moderate pace, and they make stops for everyone to catch up if there are stragglers at the back, rather than just leaving everyone to fend for themselves. It's not quite a cruiser ride, but it isn't a race either, which is a nice relaxing pace, especially for a Friday evening.

Something I discovered, or perhaps I should say became more aware of last night was how comfortable I am on the Hillborne now. I've always found the ride quality to be nice, but it's been quite a process to get it to a point that I would say I'm actually comfortable on the bike. I had high expectations for this bicycle when we started building it last July to early August, and it really seems to have taken that year and several modifications to get it to a point that works - for me. Which is really the point of it all. My first real ride on the Hillborne last August (meaning more than 5-10 miles) was the Venus de Miles ride, and I was concerned that I wouldn't make it through because I hadn't had much time to ride him before that day arrived.
Tony Stark waiting to go on the Venus de Miles ride, August 2010
I made it through just fine, but had some issues along the way. I knew even then that some things would likely change, at least over time. The core of Tony hasn't been modified substantially, but things like the saddle and handlebars have been revised, as well as changing out to a triple crank that provided more range in the gears. The saddle, a Brooks Flyer, was too narrow for me with the handlebars up higher, but a switch to a wider B72 was the perfect solution. After a long bout of attempting to make the drops work for me on this bike, I finally gave up and looked for alternatives. The Northroad bars seem to be the answer.
Tony Stark in his current state of existence
I suppose my point in all of this is really to say that it isn't always as easy as one might think to find or build a bicycle that's comfortable from the start, and just because someone tells you that something is "supposed" to be on a particular bike doesn't necessarily make it right for you. Being open to changes to make it work better for the rider is vital. I can be incredibly stubborn about things when I think it's a must have (like keeping the drop bars on this bike), but allowing myself to admit that it wasn't perhaps the best choice for this bike, and this rider, was a godsend. While he still weighs a ton, and everyone passes me going up steeper hills (just ask the group from last night!), I am so happy to have him and enjoy rides now more than ever. Finally, the comfortable bicycle I was looking for is here... and now I'm off to ride!

2 comments:

  1. So glad you've adjusted Sam so he is comfy to ride!

    I felt a little twinge of guilt after I replaced the drop handlebars on my old Schwinn with vintage upright/cruiser style handlebars but I knew, with nine fused vertebrae, I wasn't going to be comfortable in a racing stance. Listening to our bodies and making adjustments is important. So often in this world, we are expected to conform to 'one size fits all' instead of making adjustments for comfort and utility.

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  2. I think I had it in my head that it wasn't what it was supposed to be if he didn't have drop bars. Honestly, changing them out has been a wonderful experience, and in some ways, I regret not doing it sooner (though I think I had to try to learn for myself). For me, it wasn't the actual drop position of the bars, but that the bike is on the larger end for me, so the drops just stretched me too far, and I couldn't make use of that position for my hands. As you said, I agree that we have to think for ourselves and do what feels right rather than conforming to whatever is expected.

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