When we left off last year with my apologetically long posts regarding my first custom built road bike, I wasn't sure where anything was headed. I hoped for better results during the second go-round with the Rodriguez, but I hadn't quite received the new ride, so I couldn't provide any sort of mental relief for anyone reading along and/or sympathizing with my bike plight.
A day came along that was clear enough that I could take a 10-miler without too much trouble, but again, it still wasn't enough to form any thoughtful opinions. A few weeks later, I managed a 15-mile ride, but none of these were long enough or close enough together that I could really feel my way around this new bicycle. I was getting frustrated.
Then, we started in with home renovations and the move, and riding a bicycle was about the last thing I had time to do. It was unfortunate to say the least.
In early February though, we had an unseasonable warm streak run through the state and I finally had a break from the long days of renovating and enough time to head out for more than a dozen or so miles. Of course, now the issue was my body. Not only was I aching from the projects at home, but I hadn't ridden more than a few miles in months. I also hadn't formally exercised in nearly the same amount of time, so to head out on a longer ride seemed nearly impossible.
Rather than stress myself out or feel some sort of imagined pressure to do a long distance, I decided to just take a shorter ride (about 15 miles) so that I wouldn't fatigue too early and lose any sort of objectivity in regard to the Rodriguez.
Unfortunately for me, my powers of calculation were severely lacking on this particular day and the ride ended up closer to 30 miles. This is what happens when one has no sense of distance traveled (and when one puts the GPS in her back pocket and cannot see it while riding). If it hasn't been made clear from previous posts, I am a horrible, horrible guesstimater of mileage. On many occasions I have believed Sam and I have traveled but a few miles, only to quickly be informed that it is many more than I'd thought. Something is definitely off with my mental distance calculator, but I'm sure it has more to do with the fact that I'm generally lost in my own thoughts and paying little attention to the mileage traveled. It works both to my aid and detriment, depending on the situation.
|It's difficult to get a good photo of the colors. They are so gorgeous in person, but I find that it just doesn't quite translate with the camera.|
As I traveled down the road, I was aware that my hands were having issues, but I also noticed how comfortable I was on the Rodriguez. Despite all of the self-inflicted body pain, it was easy to feel just how well this bike fit me. I was actually - dare I say it - comfortable. Given that I hadn't ridden a bike at all for any purpose for nearly two months, I was shocked. I expected to feel some kind of need to adjust something, but it seemed as though if my hands hadn't been in such dire straits, I'd actually have a winner here.
Could it be? Could this actually fit properly? It seems improbable that a person could hit the nail on the head without having ever met me, nor had me ride one of their bikes, nor had I gone through any kind of elaborate system of tests; but here I was, pretty sure that this bike was turning out to be pretty fabulous.
The Rainier model is advertised as more of a Randonneur bicycle. It's intended to be a quick bike, but it's also stable and allows for fenders, a triple crank, or pretty much whatever one might need to make for a pleasant ride. I honestly didn't think it was possible to have a bike that would feel perky and stable - and actually fit well - all at the same time.
For those who read my original post about the former custom, you may recall my concern with removing a hand to grab my water bottle when riding. It's not even a hint of an issue on this bike at all. I can descend with ease, remove a hand (or even two) to fetch what I need and not feel as though I'm going to lose control at any moment.
There was some discussion initially about whether to build this bike with a double or triple crank. Obviously, this could be an argued topic, but since I have issues climbing (and living at the base of the Rocky Mountains doesn't exactly help matters), it really made sense to make my life easier with a triple.
I also debated for a bit whether or not to put fenders on the bike, but given that it arrived at the end of the autumn season, it seemed like a good idea. Although they can easily be removed, I have a feeling I will just leave them on year-round as they really don't add to the weight and it's always nice to stay a little cleaner when riding.
The drive train is set up with a mix of parts from Campagnolo, SRAM and Origin8. The wheels are 650c and are working out pretty great to this juncture. Given that the budget wouldn't allow for the finest/greatest at the time of purchase, I think it's actually a wonderful set up; and, over time I'll be able to upgrade things like the crank and so on as funds become available (Are funds ever "available?"). I was really grateful that the shop was very willing to work with me in the budgetary constraints, point out the items that I might personally find beneficial, and remind me that parts can always change down the road.
This process renewed my faith in bike builders (or at least in this bike builder) and has helped remind me why I love to ride. I was reaching a point that I wasn't sure I would ever ride a bike again for more than a handful of miles, but this Rainier really fits better than I could have hoped. It can't fix the ailments my body has, but I am convinced that the work done prior to the build and manufacture to make those problems less of an issue has made all the difference.
I have named the Rodriguez "Neo." The original intention was not to name him after The Matrix character (Though, as he was known as "The One" it is just as applicable), but rather after Neapolitan ice cream (leave it to the chubby kid to name her bike after ice cream, I swear [shaking head]). Although I chose the color combination, it didn't really dawn on me until it arrived how much it reminded me of the tri-colored ice cream. But, since the thought was then in my head and it seemed to fit, I decided to simply go with it.
This bike truly could be the one though, and that makes me smile. I won't win any speed records on this bike, but that has far more to do with the rider than the bike, and I've always enjoyed rides (be it errands, fitness, or otherwise) when I take things a bit slower and enjoy the scenery along the way. If I want to push myself, I can, or I can simply pedal along. It's always nice to have that choice though.
I'm anxiously awaiting warmer months and the opportunity to really get out on a more regular basis, but until then, I'm thankful for the days that allow me to just get out and enjoy. I'm sure I'll have more opinions as I'm able to ride more regularly, but it's such a relief to know this wasn't all in vain.