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Humbling is all I can say... (long)(3 posts)

Humbling is all I can say... (long)Joe B.
May 19, 2001 12:26 AM
Some of you may remember my post from last week regarding some nervousness over my spur of the moment decision to mail order a (dubiously sized) roadbike and get back into road riding. (Thanks to those who responded -- the seatpost is just barely long enough, and the stem has me a bit stretched out, but with a new stem I think it will be fine. HB height is ~OK.)

Anyway, although I'm pretty ignorant of roadbikes, I'm not quite a Johnny-come-lately to the sport. I was what I suppose you'd call a fast-recreational rider through most of my teen years, on an '86 Nishiki Olympic that I saved my allowance for. I had a decent mountainbike, which I rode quite a bit, but at that time road was my big push.

Since then, there was a big bikeless time in my life, and the past several years have seen me solely pursuing mountainbiking.

The bike (2k KHS Flite 300) arrived yesterday, but alas, I didn't even get the shortest of rides with it. Today, with rain threatening, and other things vying for my time, I tossed a leg over it, figuring I'd just tool around the neighborhood and get a feel for it. On go the baggy mtb shorts, time atacs, cotton tee, mtb shoes, etc. Just want to paint the right picture, because I know that no matter what I was wearing, any of you who saw me would have been thinking "Fred" anyway. :-) (Read on.)

One thing, whoever assembled it must have just backed both limit screws all the way out on the fd, because it proceeded to suck chain (hard!) immediately when I went to the granny. (yes, it's a triple -- and I was only checking the fd, I swear!) Requiring a prayer and a wincing tug to free it. On the road again, up to the big ring, and the chain comes flying off onto the crank so well, and with so much velocity, you'd swear that's what it's supposed to do. Grr... Alright, shame on me for not checking such things (and for loaning my workstand to a friend) before riding. This really served just as a convenient way for me to save face as I returned home because...

I can't ride anymore. I mean, you'd really think that I hadn't pedalled ANYTHING in the past 10 years. While there are plenty of mtbers faster, and more skilled, than I, I'm fast enough and skilled enough that I rarely feel outclassed, whoever I ride with. I really thought I'd leap on the roadbike and it would feel almost like I never stopped. Fast, hard leaning corners? Heh. Right. Anything resembling a smooth and even cadence? Nope. (And I always thought I had managed to keep a decent spin for a mountainbiker.)

The truly hilarious part was shifting. (even without the fd problems) All I've ever had on a roadbike before has been downtube shifters. I knew that shifting was somehow done from the brake hoods nowadays, but not how. As I was putting the handlebars on the partly disassembled bike yesterday, I saw the thumb trigger and wondered how one would shift in the other directon. As I did this, I grabbed the brake lever and was shocked at how "loose" it felt. Heh. Lightbulb came on then, and I thought WOW, how cool is that!

Suffice to say that the amount of thought I had to put into shifting (I use SRAM shifters on my mountainbike -- no levers at all) was nearly enough to drive me batty.

I came back to the house sweaty, pissed off, and with newfound respect for everything involved in riding the road smoothly and well. I'm going to have to drive to some remote paved area with no traffic to get my "sea legs" back; I was that dangerous at times. (This shifting distraction just made everything else worse.)

Despite this horrendous, not even almost fun experience, it's great to be back on the road, and my hat is off to all of you. Riding the road is not the velvety smooth easy experience that ~10 years of faded memories turned it into for me. However, I'm really looking forward to finding the love again...

It doesn't take longDCP
May 19, 2001 2:38 PM
You are doing it the hard way. At least I could ask the salesman how to shift those slick looking levers. I did feel a bit stupid having to ask how to shift a bike, but it isn't immediately obvious.

You might have a look at Lemond's book, Complete Book of Cycling. The portions of the book on equipment are sorely out of date, but there is some quite good information on riding technique and training. Road bikes are different than MTB's, but you will get the hang of it soon.
May 20, 2001 12:09 AM
Stick with it and don't get frustrated. The learning curve is steep at first, but you'll come around. Riding the road is smooth, fast and hypnotic, and you'll get the feeling again. Welcome back Joe.