That is the good news. The bad news, is that I will not be cycling for the remainder of my stay in Austria. Apparently, I have managed to mildly injure myself by cycling too fast and too much (60-80 km rides) on a bicycle that was not designed for it. I was warned that this could happen, but my enthusiasm for the trails got the best of me and I did not heed the warnings. Now I need to take a break and heal completely, if I want to be able to cycle for the rest of the summer. Grrr.
So I guess this is Good-bye to the rental comfort bike I have been riding here for the past 2 months. We've had some good times together, but she just was not made to cope with my demands.
It's not that comfort bikes are categorically "bad" bicycles. Short trips feel marvelous, and they can handle a wide range of town and country terrain. But the longer the trip and the faster you attempt to ride, the more you begin to feel the limitations of their anatomy. Whereas the road bike is built for speed, the mountain bike for off-road use, and the Dutch-style bike for utility, the comfort bike manages to combine components of all three in a way that provides the full benefits of neither.
Clever Cycles has an excellent article that compares the anatomies of different types of bicycles and explains why comfort bikes can feel the opposite of what their name suggests:
Ergonomically, I think comfort bikes ...are sort of a disaster. They have the steep-ish seat tube angle of a mountain bike, and simply bring the bars much closer and higher... This results in a very shallow torso angle so the buttocks can’t help much with pedaling. You see riders of these bikes bobbing their torsos forward with each pedal stroke trying vainly to enlist more muscles to the aid of their smoking quadriceps. The saddles are appropriately broad to support the upright rotation of the pelvis, but all that broad tragic squishiness leads to chafing because the seat tube angle puts the pedals too nearly below the hips. A common compensation is to set the saddle too low, which only makes the other problems worse.This describes exactly the problems I was having with the rental hybrid. At first it feels quite comfortable, as it does give you a fairly upright posture. But the longer you cycle, the more you feel that the seating tube angle, the handlebars, the space between the different parts of the bike, etc., all sort of work against you rather than for you as you attempt to go long distance, climb a hill, or pick up speed. And, if like me, you keep at it despite feeling the bike's limitations, the inevitable results are pain and possible injury.
If you are shopping for a bicycle, be aware that what are called "comfort bikes" do not have the same construction as traditional relaxed frame bicycles such as the old English 3-speeds and the Dutch-style bicycles.
It will be difficult not riding a bike for 2 whole weeks now that I've gotten so used to it! But no doubt this period of velo-abstinence will make me appreciate the bicycles waiting for me at home all the more.