Saturday, October 17, 2009

First Mixed-Terrain Ride

Riding the singletrack down Mt Victoria

I finally got out for a decent ride on the Cross-Check. Only 30kms or so but it included some gravel paths, grass, cobbles and singletrack. I changed over to some cheap Vittoria 35c touring tyres I bought when I first had the wheels built-up. I can't imagine what a 23 or 25mm racing tyre feels like at 130psi as these seemed pretty harsh to me at 65psi. On the Pugsley and to some extent my commuter with its 2 inch Schwalbes you just can't feel the pebbles and cracks that pass under your wheels but by the end of this ride I was getting used to the sensation. 

It sure is different riding a faster bike on the road. Because I had those higher gears available I was blasting along with the roadies on the flats and also pedaling on the downhills so my legs never got a break. I'm sitting here the day after with sore quads and I never feel anything anywhere after a two or three hour mountainbike ride. 

On fine, smooth gravel it was comfortable but I could feel the vibration through the bars when the rocks got up to matchbox size. Maybe I should double-wrap my bars or wear gloves?

The fun part started when I got to Devonport. I climbed up Mount Victoria using the sealed access road. This is a struggle on the Pugsley even when I am fit. It was way easier on the Cross-Check but I still ended up in my lowest 34/34T ratio. You can see most of Auckland from up there and I took in the views before starting down again on the singletrack that winds around the outside. I was careering down the initial part on damp grass (at Pugsley speed) when I hit the brakes to slow for the first switchback. 

Road Tyres + Wet Grass = Chocolate Starfish Moment 

The Paul cantilevers stopped the wheels beautifully but the smooth tyres weren't slowing the bike at all. I just pulled-up in time to avoid shooting over the precipice and took the next section considerably slower. I have to remember that when using road tyres this is an "exploring" bike not a "race" one. 

I don't commute to work in rush-hour and on this ride really noticed the vehicle fumes on a busy Saturday morning. It was pretty disgusting in places and I'll head in the other direction in search of quieter roads next time I get a chance.

The drop handlebars don't feel natural yet but the gear-changing is coming easier. More miles required I feel.

You would think there was no traffic in Auckland in this shot.
You would be wrong.

Heading up Devonport's Main Street from the wharf towards Mt Victoria

A few kilometres from home I spied a perfectly good pair of plastic oars sitting in someone's inorganic collection at the side of the road. I had no rack, bungies of trailer so I plonked them on the bars sitting across the hoods and carried on. I got full ten metres before the left paddle hit the wing-mirror of a fancy-pants BMW and I had my second choco-starfish moment of the day. 

I sure got some funny looks from people as I rode home and overtaking cars gave me an extra-wide berth. I'm tempted to always ride with a fluorescent yellow paddle sticking out a metre into the traffic - much safer!

Almost home

My new bike is oarsome

On a final note, roadies sure don't like it when you can ride at their pace in a t-shirt and baggy, shit-brown cargo shorts. I'm sure going to enjoy irritating Lycra-Cowboys on this bike. Just need to get a bit fitter so I can pull away from them for the ultimate humiliation.


Doug said...

"ultimate humiliation"....I always say you gotta have goals in your life!

Chocolate Starfish Moment"

I think I knew what it meant, but still had to look that one up.

Mel said...

Wow, it looks good all finished. If you don't want to double wrap your bars, you could try Fizik bar gel (pads) to go under your tape.

Enjoy the ride. :)

Antoine said...

@Doug: I was in the same situation a few months ago. Had a chuckle when I googled it.

@Mel: That's an option. The tape on there is Fizik and although it feels and looks good (like suede), it's quite thin compared to the cheap Specialized stuff I put on my commuter's bar-ends. I have some of that left over and might run a couple of strips on the area behind the hoods where your palms/wrists tend to sit.

Marla said...

choco-starfish...I'm cracking up!!

David said...

I think all new bikes should come with oars. When I ride in Seoul I figure that if I can touch passing cars they are too close. Taxis often find this offensive...we don't just don't get along. Basically I need some oars.

The Jim Dandy said...

I can understand why taxi drivers find it offensive when you touch their cab. I won't want to get close to those (death trap) things let alone touch it.
The poor driver is stuck in one all day while we get to fly on bikes.
Don't feel angry, feel sorry for the poor guy. ^_^;