First Group Ride!

Yesterday, I went on my first group ride. Yes, there were only three of us and we're all friends. But those who were reading this blog last summer understand what an accomplishment this is for me.

Ever since I began to ride a roadbike, I've been whining about wanting to learn how to ride in a group... yet refusing to go on group rides. Yes, it was paradoxical. But you see, I wanted to learn the skills of riding in a group, while at the same time being afraid of it - convinced that I would perish in a high speed crash, images of the most gruesome bicycle race pile-ups flashing through my mind. I toyed with the idea of joining the women's training rides offered by a local cycling team, but ultimately the entire summer passed and I did not do it - opting for solitary rides and occasional rides with the Co-Habitant instead. I had to be coaxed into joining yesterday's ride, and I did try to back out as usual... but in the end something just clicked in my head and I went. And I'm very glad. Yes, I know you told me so!

My cycling partners were the Co-Habitant on his nearly-finished Surly Cross-Check (notice the fenders!) and our neighbour Somervillain on his vintage 650B conversion.

I was on my Rivendell Sam Hillborne. How happy he was to be out amidst the cherry blossoms!

Though we were riding different bikes, the aesthetic was amusingly similar. We all had candy-coloured frames with fat tires, cantilever brakes, aluminum fenders, leather saddles, classic bar wrap, and even twined water bottles. All three of us were also wearing wool. We looked like a team of eccentric bicycle obsessionists. The plan was to go on a roughly 40 mile loop - starting on the Minuteman Trail, then going through the hilly parts of Lexington, and arriving in Concord, MA - where we would stop before returning along a similar route.

Any nervousness I had about the ride dissipated as soon as the three of us set off in city traffic on the way to the Minuteman Trail. I expected this to be stressful - keeping pace with the others while paying attention to cars and negotiating treacherous intersections - but instead it was easy. Easier than cycling in traffic alone and easier than cycling in traffic with just the Co-Habitant. I still need to think this through in order to understand why, but possibly because three cyclists really do constitute a group in the eyes of motorists and are thus given more space. Maybe. Whatever the reason, it was great.

For the first part of our ride, we went in an unchanging single file procession - with the Co-Habitant first, Somervillain second, and me last. We cycled fairly closely behind one another, which I did not find problematic. It took me some time to get used to the rhythm with which Somervillain started from a stop, and to time my own starts the same way so that I wouldn't run into him. But otherwise, it was all very intuitive. I did not have trouble pacing myself to maintain the same speed consistently. And I also liked it that they hand-signaled every move they would make on the road. When we cycle alone, the Co-Habitant and I don't do this - which sometimes results in miscommunication.

We went along the Minuteman Trail at 14-16mph, then headed for the hills in Lexington. We've had an especially long winter and rainy spring this year, and I had not done major hills like this since last Fall. I was physically unprepared for them. I also forgot how steep and long this one particular hill was. We began climbing it, and almost immediately I was spinning in a low gear and my speed dropped to 7mph. I just couldn't do any better. It was at this point that we dispersed, so that the stronger riders would not lose momentum. Somervillain took off uphill and the Co-Habitant followed him at a slower pace, but still faster than me. I eventually made it, but the climb was such a huge shock to my system that even the downhill decent that followed made me unable to catch up with them. As soon as the distance between us decreased, came another uphill and I would lose them again. While I found this frustrating, I also appreciated having a true sense of the differences in our abilities. And I certainly preferred them going ahead to slowing down for me - that would have made me feel excruciatingly self-conscious.  We cycled over a series of hills in a similar style - the distance between us decreasing on the descent, then increasing again on the ascent - until finally the elevation changes lessened and we were able to cycle in a single file again. I did not have trouble keeping up on flats and mild hills, so that was a relief. The day had been beautiful and sunny up until then, but now it started to rain, which was a relief as well. The raindrops cooled me down.

We stopped in the Concord town center to have lunch and coffee. The sun came out again by then, and the small town looked ridiculously picturesque - blue skies, green grass and cherry blossoms everywhere.

We filled up our water bottles.

And Somervillain showed us his clever iphone-charging system.

The socket is built into the light mount and derives its power from the dynamo hub. He made it himself. I don't own an iphone, but still want this on my bike!

At some point in the course of the ride, the Co-Habitant's brakes suddenly became stronger, solving his brake dilema. Looks like they just needed to wear in.

My writing skills are not strong enough to make the canti-comparison conversation that followed sound interesting, but I'll show you Somervillain's Mafac brakes.

And my Tektro brakes.  After a thorough examination of my bike, we may now have a diagnosis for my complaint about the drivetrain fussiness: bent derailleur hanger, possibly. So I will have to take care of that.

After the town center, we cycled a bit further and stopped by Walden Pond.

Even with lots of people there on a Sunday, it is still such a quiet, meditative place.

We chose a slightly less hilly route home, and the return part of our loop was more casual. We switched places in line frequently, and at times cycled in a cluster instead of a procession - all of which I was fine with. I got a sudden burst of energy on the way back and did not feel tired.

It is fair to conclude that my first group ride was a success. I enjoyed cycling in a procession at a controlled speed, and I did not have problems riding in close proximity to the others. I guess my sense of incompetence in this respect was exaggerated. The losing them on hills aspect I will have to work on, but I think it is to be expected given the differences in physical strength between us.

I looked up the schedule for the women's training rides this summer, and the first one of the season is this Tuesday - tomorrow! Before I lose my nerve, I think I need to just force myself to show up. Will make my best effort - now off to shop for a certain required accessory!


  1. Great reflections as usual. I hope you get hooked. I love how in a group ride it feels as if we're all stationary, and it's the countryside gliding past us. It feels as if the energy is free and we glide along with less effort than if alone.

    And, with more eyes and ears among us, and, as you say, more noticeable to motorists, I feel quite a bit safer.

    ps- thought you had a kickstand on your Sam?

  2. what are your bottles wrapped in? Does it interfere with putting them in the holders or does it make it more snug? Our family has steel drink containers too and I'd love to know if I can do a crafty do-it-yourself wrap like yours! They look lovely!

  3. Go for the women's ride! I definitely understand the anxiety. I'm not sure I could do it, but I'd love to read about your experience.

  4. Give it a try! You were surprised by the cargo bike, maybe you'll be surprised by this other kind of cycling experience, too. It certainly puts body and bike to the test and opens up a whole new appreciation of skills and equipment.

  5. My first big ride of the spring was with my own 'co-habitant' and his training partner, on a very similar route. They had both been training for D2R2 for a while already, and on every hill they would go back down and hit it a second time, all in the time it took me to do it once.

    Is it the NEBC training ride you're talking about? Will you bike to the start? Ten miles out before a 20- to 26-mile ride (and then back home!) is a bit much for me on a weeknight.

  6. The call of the Minuteman was heard far and wide yesterday, even in Roslindale - I rode it in the late afternoon. Don't think I could have asked for a much nicer day. No hills for me, I turned around at Bedford, still a similar distance.
    So, are you going with a standard helmet, or a custom painted one?

  7. That sounds like a great day!
    Velouria--please just go to the group Ladies ride tomorrow! It seems like something you might really enjoy. If you don't like it, you can just quit.

    I want to add that this past winter was my first year of winter bicycling. The only way I was able to get started on it was to blog about it AND just try doing it. I was really pleased that I did it and even though I didn't quit, I think that it's fair enough to know that you do have that as an option. Quitting is better than never trying...

    Besides, how else are you going to leave those boys in the dust on those hills this summer?

  8. Rona - It's twine and it makes the fit more snug, as well as prevents the bottles from getting scratched. Here's more about it.

  9. sausend - Yes it's the NEBC training ride, and yes I'm going to cycle there. I'll try to go slowly and I think it will be a nice warm-up. Just bought a helmet, so now I *have* to go to justify the purchase!

    Mark - There is a particular road helmet I really like (Catlike Kompact), but it's both too flashy and too expensive for me at this stage. So I got a very basic road-ish helmet for now, and we'll see whether I end up sticking with these rides and progressing at all. If I end up joining a team at some point in the future, I will reward myself with a Catlike.

  10. I rode TOSRV this weekend and found that the pace lines make a huge difference in being able to do a long ride. Beyond the big advantage of the windbreak, there is also the fact that you're thinking about something other than how much your butt hurts. You get into some interesting conversations. It really makes the ride go faster.
    Glad to hear you're now confident enough for a group ride. It is interesting seeing you develop as a cyclist.

  11. Ah, but happily my butt hurting was the last thing on my mind. Both my Rivendell and the Berthoud saddle I now have on it are perfect for long rides. They somehow get more comfortable as the ride goes on.

    I am pretty sure this is not the most appropriate of bikes for a paceline training ride, but for the beginner's group I should be okay.

  12. "We looked like a team of eccentric bicycle obsessionists."

    That's because you are!

  13. Well, I have a Brooks saddle and so did a lot of other guys, and it seemed like butt problems were a common complaint. And I tend to doubt that all these old, experienced cyclists have them adjusted wrong.
    BTW, on your derailleur -- I thought the problem was with your front derailleur. What's the derailleur hanger got to do with it?

  14. Where can I learn to do the same to my bottles?

  15. When I described the problem before, one assumption was that it was the front derailleur. But now it seems that perhaps not.

    The specific problem I have, is that the range of gears on my rear derailleur within which I can switch without also having to fiddle with the front is unusually narrow. This makes it a pain to switch gears in a situation where I am constantly going up and down major hills. But it's very hard to tell what exactly is causing the problem.

  16. I'd happily solder together a phone charger and put it in a little case in exchange for some knitted stuff, just would need to know which connector to use for the output to the phone. Would be easy to have a mini-jack on the other end like in the photo above (is the current already rectified there?) or could put a dynamo connector on the end instead. Phone charger's pretty useful for touring.

  17. Congratulations.

    Stick with groups you trust for now. Drop off the back quickly if a group makes you uncomfortable. If they start ragged/inconsiderate it will not get better as the miles go by.

    Youtube a short 1955 video called Cyclist's Special if you haven't already. Casual riding, moderate speeds, ensemble riding of a very high order. You won't find too many riders like that anymore, but it's an aspiration.

    Happy trails to you

  18. Eric-- I have dibs on the soldering for goods barter!

  19. Somervillain indeed has dibs on the contract : ) But I am sure there are lots of people out there who would love this, so should be enough work for several of you.

    I think I'd like one for the Royal H Randonneur I'm working on, though need to ask the customer if he wants it.

  20. Haha, fair enough! Just throwing it out there because I can't knit for my life.

  21. Eric, I'll knit you something and we'll figure it out. Get in touch at filigreevelo-at-yahoo

  22. I can't see how your rear derailleur could affect the problem you describe. The front derailleur deals with the chain after it leaves the rear cassette, while the rear derailleur deals with it before the cassette. How could any misalignment of the rear derailleur be transmitted through the cogs of the cassette?
    My guess is that you have a problem with your front shifter, since you seem to have ruled out an issue with the derailleur itself. If you are using it in index mode you would expect to have to adjust the position of the shifter slightly about midway through your range. If it's more than that maybe something is worn.

  23. Do it, V. I joined a local weekly ride last August. I showed up on my old MTB and was immediately intimidated by the road bikes and lycra. There were some more ordinary looking riders too. I refused to allow myself to go home. I kept showing up every week, despite being one of the slowest and least competent riders.

    I bought a crappy old 10-speed from eBay a few months ago and joined the local group of roadie nuts. Despite my bicycle and lack of experience, I have a lot of fun on those rides. One thing I do: show up. No excuses, no allowing myself to be intimidated.

    Yesterday, none of the super good riders were there, but the way-better-than-me riders were. I PULLED the paceline for for ten miles on the way back! I NEVER thought I'd like road cycling.

    I lead a 20 mile ride at a slow pace for people who want to try longer rides. I make a point of not allowing them to apologize for riding slowly encourage them to be proud of themselves for showing up.

    The Retrovelo is not going anywhere and I still love bucolic transportation riding. But I'm a roadie now, too.

    Go on those training rides and SHOW UP without fail (you are allowed to skip when you are sick). Showing up will will win you tremendous respect. It will also reward you with skill.

  24. Eric, it's not just a wire and a plug, and it's not all home-made. I wanted something that would provide a continuous, buffered charge for a mobile device, and designing that type circuit is beyond my abilities. It also requires a separate battery. Instead, I bought a Dahon Biologic Reecharge (see photo above). It consists of a 1600mAh battery with buffered DC-rectified input and buffered output with adapters for most common mobile phones. I keep the Biologic in my handlebar bag. The only real "custom" modification I made was the plug to connect the Biologic to the Dyno. I used a standard M6 plug/jack combo, a common jack found on chargers. I spliced the jack into the Dyno circuit, and spliced the plug into the Biologic input. It's not so much technical innovation as it is aesthetic integration. :-)

    The Biologic is nice in that it has an LED readout to indicate its charge level (and the LEDs double as a flashlight!). Both the Biologic and the iPhone were maintained at 100% charge throughout the day.

  25. Yeah. I have a Blackberry, which doesn't require the constant current that some of the iPhones do, thus no battery was required. So all I needed for a charger was rectification and voltage regulation to 5V, pretty much the same as any AC adapter. It's served me pretty nicely for some time now.

    Never gotten a chance to use the Reecharge! It looks really nice and I like all the inline connector options.

  26. Someone was trying to understand the derailer problem: the Sam's front has a narrow sculpted cage that requires trimming very often. Separately, the Sam's rear looks bent which may or may not be connected to shifting problems like difficulty to trim, reduced perfect trim window, and chain shifting to a higher/lower gear if not trimmed precisely.

    I don't think V experienced any rear derailer problems on our ride, but she constantly has to deal with the front derailer needing to be trimmed after almost every shift. Straightening out the bent hanger/RD won't make that go away.

  27. And, uh, I'm no circuit designer either - my EE background consists of two semesters of college physics for non-majors. I can copy other people's circuits though.

    Really I'm just happy I didn't set myself on fire building the charger or my dynamo light, a triple Cree XP-G with a 1F standlight in the shell of a cheap flashlight that I got for free.

  28. MDI - Great, so I have multiple drivetrain problems. Clearly I need the Chorus group...

  29. Lynne - Pulling the paceline for 10 miles?? I thought it was supposed to be only for a few minutes per turn!

    And for a second there, I imagined you doing this on the Retrovelo : )

  30. I don't know if I'd call Somervillian's bike candy-colored. White chocolate, I suppose? ;)

    I wish the co-habitant would keep the Surly's bar tape that happy shade of yellow.

  31. Someone has been bitten by the Campy bug. Clearly, if you continue to do these rides, you need a Chorus group attached to a new bike. Campagnolo, the new fountain pen.

    You'll probably get a lot of good instruction tomorrow but they might not tell you: protect your front wheel and leave yourself an out. And stay away from the rider with a dinosaur glued to her helmet.

  32. Alexandra, I dunno, I suppose the bikes do remind me somewhat of the colors of jordan almonds.

  33. GR Jim - Sorry, inside joke.

    I tried a Seven last week. It had Campagno Chorus "brifters," among other things. Could care less about the rest of the stuff, but the brifters God, like butter. I've now tried various Shimano brifters, SRAM, and Campagnolo Athena. They weren't like these. I have trouble squeezing road levers, so for me it is a huge deal to find something I respond to like this.

    Anyhow, I like to tease MDI by bringing up the Seven bike and the Chorus brifters. Because, you know - they're frickin expensive. Gotta have my fun.

  34. My bad for jumping in on it, but yeah I've got the good Italian stuff on my bike and it is like that. The hoods are like moulded to your hand. A big reason you can squeeze them so easily is new hood and lever shapes. Plus their cables and housing are extremely well-designed. Like glass.

    SRAM, imho, is crap. I like high-end Shimano stuff tho. Fun is where it's at; you might as well try Shimano Di2. I think it comes with a built-in ipod and cable tv. Game changer.

  35. Alexandra said...
    "I don't know if I'd call Somervillian's bike candy-colored. White chocolate, I suppose?"

    Wait, you mean white chocolate is a vegetable? That's great news!

    Ah, but I think the jordan almonds comparison is apt.

  36. Maybe I should clear-coat my bars, huh? :)

  37. What a beautiful area to ride in. I've taken my kids there when they were younger, and they still say that was their favorite vacation! Congrats to you on going along with "the group". I did a bike tour last summer, and found keeping up with the group, or riding slightly behind, and one day going ahead - all fine. I'm going to do it again in June.
    And Somervillian's charger: VERY, VERY COOL!

  38. Marvelous Velouria! Thanks for linking back to the shellac posts! I know what I'm doing this week :D

  39. MDI-I had that yellow tape on my white Soma BV for a few weeks and was kind of sad after applying amber shellac. The once happy and playful bike became all grown-up and serious. It does look lovely, though. I don't know which I prefer. You can shellac but you can't go back.

  40. MDI - Now that you have fenders on this bike, I no longer think it looks like a toy with the yellow bars. The respectable fenders and playful bars kind of balance each other out. Clear shellac still darkens/dulls the colour a bit - see the white handlebars on my Bianchi. Consider just keeping as is?

    Rona - Have a good time : ) I find shellac application relaxing.

  41. I love how words can mean different say group ride, and you're thinking a bunch of roadies, I say group ride, and I'm thinking a goofy social ride with a few people carrying stereos in their trailers, likely a few people on freak bikes, and an end destination that usually involves beer.

    That being said (and oh lord, do I love that kind of ride), just this last weekend a group of us did a short bike-camping trip of 25 miles each way, there were, hm, ten of us?

    It's amazing how organic it is, for lack of a better word. When the bike lane is wide and/or there's no traffic, we happily ride side-by-side or in little clumps, and when the shoulder is narrow and the traffic higher we ride single file, still in little groupings. Conversations ebb and flow as people slow down and speed up on hills, or go from pedaling side-by-side to single file. There's conversations about road conditions and traffic and bikes, but also just normal conversations about every-day things.

    And a group of bicycles does tend to feel more confident in traffic. There's safety in numbers, after all. I like comparing it to wildebeests crossing a river sometimes.

  42. I liked listening to MDI & Somervillain talk while cycling behind them/ next to them, but I don't myself like to talk when I ride. Don't know why, but maybe I can't pay as much attention to my surroundings when I talk, and I like to look at the scenery. So I am hoping that the roadie girls will be grim and non-talkative - as the guys I see training seem to be : )

  43. Seems like the perfect intro to group rides. There are local rides here but I have been too intimidated to try them.

    And I vote to keep the yellow handlebars on the Surly, for what it's worth. They look fun without being silly.

  44. My that looks like fun. The way you shot it was just nostalgic enough to bring to mind the old European cycling travelogues I remember from a few old cycling journals I stumbled on as a kid. I could almost smell the spring air, if you had shot it on Kodachrome I probably would have felt out of breath and saddle sore...

    The reference to the old Brit newsreel clip "Cyclists Special" is apt. I've watched that several times over the last month after someone told me about it. Pretty neat.

    I hope you have a great time on the group ride tomorrow, if you have the fortune to ride with the right bunch you are going to have lots to write about this summer.


  45. I think you'll find that steep hills tend to break up pacelines no matter who's involved. Everyone has different styles and speeds for climbing, and usually its customary to let folks recollect on the descent. It may be a little different on training rides with rolling terrain, where there's more of a focus on transferring the energy from each descent into momentum on each climb and thus there's a greater likelihood of folks getting dropped, but this shouldn't be a concern for casual social rides.

    Sometimes, it's also easier to keep a group together if the faster ones just let the slower riders lead. Yes, a 'proper' rotating paceline should only have folks pulling at minute long intervals, but if you're more interested in a conversational pace anyway, its easier to keep the group together if the slower riders set the pace from the outset.

    It's neat reading your account and trying to imagine the route that you took just by going on your descriptions -- trying to remember the more memorable hills between Lexington and Concord and then imagining your gaily painted procession gliding along that route.

  46. Velouria, Nice pictures and write-up. I was going to post about encouraging you to do the group ride, etc, but all this talk about Campy Chorus has me distracted....I have older 105 STI on my bike and the thought of buttery shifting has me all, well intrigued. On another site that I frequent, there's a guy who is alway recommending the Campy brifters (there, I said it) no matter what drivetrain you have. I may have to talk to him. My goodness, you have so much equipment already, I say go for it! You can always give the old stuff away ; ). Steve in MD

  47. Steve - Alas, the modern Campy Chorus Ergos would look ridiculous on my Rivendell and are incompatible with the vintage Bianchi, so I can't actually install them on any of my bikes. Would need to get a modern roadbike. I am going to have a write-up about this component soon.

  48. Interesting that you mention 'fussy drive train' and bent hanger on your Sam. That has been my only complaint with my Sam and I was also thinking bent hanger. Skipping cogs under load is most annoying. Do tell usif this fixes your issue.

    Haven't seen your Royal H in a while. Hope it comes out of hiding soon.

  49. Arevee - See here and here : )

    What exactly has been your Sam Hillborne complaint - do you know for a fact that your derailleur hanger is bent, or do you just mean that your drivetrain is fussy?

  50. Our group ride is typically 40-50 riders. I'll take a turn at the front to do a pull, I'm not a complete slouch, but I prefer to lounge in the back of the bunch, eat snacks and gossip. Especially on a beautiful morning. Unless some hero eventually goes off the front, in which case the drama of the ensuing chase is all part of the fun.

  51. Wait, I just looked up the Shimano Di2 and they are $600 - that's more than the Campagnolo Chorus!

  52. I forgot to mention my Sunday ride report: I didn't ride, but got hit by a bike. Typical.

    Dude, you're looking at just the levers. You have to get the derailleurs and wires and battery too because it's ELECTRONIC. The stuff that makes it go cost almost $3k. All you have to do is *think* shift and you're rolling.

    The front derailleur AUTO TRIMS!!!

  53. Peppy (the cannot has hype cat)May 9, 2011 at 9:02 PM

    That's because Shimano stuff is generally better than Campagnolo stuff. :)

  54. Campy wears in, Shimano wears out.


  55. While I tend to dislike Shimano components, I think I'd be too self-conscious to use Campagnolo. Someone with my skill level buying that stuff - that's just inviting mockery, IMO.

    Oh, and electronic shifters? Jeez, no thanks!

  56. Peppy (the can has tail-mounted shifters cat)May 9, 2011 at 9:22 PM

    The only things that wear out are Shimano's patents, and then Campy stuff can be good again. :)

  57. Perhaps.

    re: electronics. Uh huh, you of front derailleur trimming issues.

    Peps - ye of short-legged cycling experience. What's the make of your mother's FD again? Shi...something or other. I'm thinking you're a dromedary.

    Spindizz - Peps doesn't know you have to throw Shimano away when it breaks. Poor, poor, pitiful cat. The bottle must be empty by now.

  58. Peppy (the saving my allowance for Campy catalogue cat)May 9, 2011 at 10:35 PM

    Yes, my bottle is empty because I just finished drinking Campy kool-aide.

  59. Peppy - You're being argumentative for the sake of being argumentative. What basis of comparison do you have other than Shimano and vintage Suntour? Anyway, this is silly.

  60. Honest question - I like Campy and I like Shimano. I realize people love Campy because it's I-talian. Most peeps around here run Shimano because it's cheaper, comes with their bike and really good. Do you find Campy nuts there insufferably beholden to their shizit?

  61. That does look like a really wonderful ride! One of the few things I miss about living in Way Upstate NY is the group riding on empty back roads.

    If you like the shape of the Campy levers, Cane Creek has a pair of non-brifter brake levers that are a very similar in shape, at a much lower price. I use them on my fixie and they work pretty well with cantilever brakes.

  62. If you're just too self-conscious for Campy, look around for some old Sachs brifters, made by Campy. 9-speed only IIRC. Oof that's a sketchy recollection. Cheap cheap at the swap meet and works just like it should.

    My 9spd Record shifters are now 12 years old, at least 100,000 kilometers, shift same as new, service parts still available if ever needed, even the rubber hoods are in fine shape. Filed out the lever body to create the cable routing Campy uses now (did it before Campy did) thereby voiding any warranty and they still love me.

  63. Hard to say. Vintage Campagnolo definitely gets fetishised here by the fixed gear crowd.

    Modern Campagnolo - I've observed mixed reactions. There are many wealthy people living in the suburbs here who get high-performance bikes with all-Campy just because they've heard it's the best stuff. I see them riding on the Minuteman Trail, very slowly. So there's that reputation. Also, I know that some cyclists find Campagnolo shifters extremely uncomfortable, so they are said to be difficult to use. I think in general, the sense around here is that modern Campagnolo is superior in many ways to the other stuff, but you have to be a good cyclist for it to matter. If you're a mediocre cyclist and using all Campy, it's funny.

  64. People have always loved vintage Campy like they love Ducatis.

    The PROs ride what they're given and shut up about not liking it. A rider in the 'burbs with more money than sense does the opposite. They kind of shout about liking it but maybe can't ride.

    It's not that you have to be fast to ride Campy or "good". The perception of Campy in general is that it's pure race, no-nonsense. They were like that but now user-friendly lines have appeared.

    I hate the factionalizing of cycling because it's provincial and promulgated by rookies. If one's wrist doesn't hurt using Campy, that's a good enough reason to use it.

  65. Congrats on the first group-ride! I used to have a neighbour who rode all the time and helped me out on all my builds. We only made it out on one ride together, so sad!
    I too have a lack of real group experience. I think it really comes down to scheduling. Having a wife and 3 kids kind of limits your options and a fair amount of negotiation is necessary to get time out on the bike. A local store has a regular Saturday AM ride which I intend on joining, again, as soon as I can figure out the scheduling challenges.

    As for Campagnolo.. yes it's italian, yes it's beautiful, and yes, it's definitely eccentric. Do I want it? Hell yes! I almost don't want anything else! With Shimano, I'll try to stick to Dura Ace preferably. (can I afford either? no, but thank goodness for ebay and!) - Oh and SRAM is actually pretty good.

    Good luck on continuing to get more experience!

  66. Riding a full Campy gruppo at 5mph on the bike path has a similar cachet as does driving a downmarket Jaguar or Land Rover- it screams "I'm insecure!" while fooling scant few with their pretentiousness.

  67. Congratulations on your first group ride. Maybe you'll want to stick with riding in groups of friends: There's less of the politicking and one-upsmanship one sees on too many club rides.

    While all of my riding is now done solo or with small numbers of friends, I am glad that I had the experience of riding in larger groups with people I didn't know as well. Even when you ride solo, a lot of the skills you gain from group riding are useful.

  68. @Velouria -

    Since owning the Hillborne, the chain has had a tendency to jump or slip when under load in the middle chain ring and in the 2nd to 4th cog in the rear. I replaced the chain to no avail. One morning, my dog caused a huge bike avalanche which definitely bent the hanger. I straightened it myself. The chain 'jumping' issue was no worse after the damage. A shop mechanic said a bend hanger could be causing the issue. I've been told there is a 'special tool' for straightening it. I used a vice grip and gentle bending.

  69. Thanks Justine. I'm not sure how to explain it, but I find the idea of riding in a team more appealing than riding with friends and chatting. I would rather chat with my friends over coffee or while taking a walk, then ride fast and in silence with strangers. Is that weird?

    arevee - Yes, there is a special tool. Somervillain has one. But the Co-Habitant is not convinced that the (very slightly) bent hanger is what's doing this. I am also not sure whether my problem is similar to yours; it could be but so hard to say. And yes, I am mostly in the middle ring.

  70. Matt: You're right. I ride Cane Creek levers on both of my drop-bar bikes. One is a fixie and the other has down-tube shifters.

    I just happened to get my CC levers on sale. Otherwise, I would have bought Tektro R-200s, which are the exact same lever. The CCs just have a nicer finish than the Tektros.

    Both the Tektros and Cane Creeks are also available in versions for people with smaller hands, and other versions for use with V-brakes. All retain that nice Campy hood shape, and cost a fraction (Yes, even the CCs) of what you'd pay for Campys.

    Back in the day, I rode "classic" Campy Nuovo Record. Back then, nearly all racers did, and Campagnolo was the only manufacturer that made spare parts readily available. But even Shimano 105 or SRAM Rival equipment shifts more quickly and precisely, and brakes with more power and modulation, than the old Campy stuff.

    These days, I don't have any Campy on any of my bikes. That was not the result of a plan of any sort: Things just turned out that way. And I'm happy with what I use now.

  71. GR Jim: It's true that the pros ride what they're given. In fact, one TDF winner--Bernard Thevenet, if I recall correctly-- didn't know who made some of the parts (e.g., tires) on his bike. And, neither he nor his team's mechanic knew what the angles of his bike were.

    In a related theme: Another TDF winner, Miguel Indurain, went shopping for a bike after he retired from racing. He was shocked at what they cost, for he hadn't bought one in about twenty years!

  72. Justine - My sister in law blundered into a dinner with Big Mig in Spain, said he was a complete dolt. Thanks for putting one last bullet in my illusion of hero, sis in law.

    Arevee - Since it's skipping under load it might mean those cogs and chain are worn, particularly if you rode it through the winter.

    V - I'm actually not going to say anything regarding your Riv's shifting.

  73. On the Shimano VS Campy debate, I just gotta say "Suntour" :P

    I've grown up with Shimano, never had enough pennies for Campy, but now that I've experienced vintage Suntour I'm in love. It's still pretty cheap on Ebay and marktplaats and it works lovely-- has the right "look".

  74. RE: The Shimano vs. Campagnolo culture war, it's fun till it stops being fun. It's still fun here but when the knives come out, I'm blaming "Peppy the mean spirited anchovy smelling cat".


  75. Looks and sounds like a lot of fun! I look forward to hearing your report of the women's road ride.

  76. Kind of late to respond, but whatever. Yes, it is usually just a few miles each pulling the peloton. But every time I looked back, they were still there (I don't care HOW dorky it looks on my helmet, I love my rear-view mirror). I kept thinking "What the hell?" It was not a race. The person who benefitted from all that work was me. Sure, the ride would have been easier if I had drafted more, but I'm the one who got stronger.

    Not my first time riding the paceline with this group, but my first time pulling for that long -- and at the end of the ride. I was third to finish in spite of my crappy heavy bike, old age, and lack of experience.

    This is a really weird thing happening to me. I'm not really INTERESTED in going fast. In fact, I'm scared to death. I absolutely DO NOT fly down hills or around corners. I just want to go on long rides. No way I'm getting one of those ugly aero road bikes. I'm just trying to keep up. Now people are telling me that I'm fast. More than one has said "I hope you never get a REAL road bike -- we'll never catch you."

    To be very clear, though, this is not an organized racing club. It's a loose group of riders. It includes some very, very fit riders, though. Many can maintain a 22+ MPH pace for two to four hours. I'm not in that league by a long shot.

    I doubt that I will keep this pace up. What I really want is to go on 40 mile rides at a more modest pace (14-17 MPH). Just need to find that group.

  77. Rona said: I've grown up with Shimano, never had enough pennies for Campy, but now that I've experienced vintage Suntour I'm in love. It's still pretty cheap on Ebay and marktplaats and it works lovely-- has the right "look".

    So true! I built up the Shogun that I rode with MDI and Velouria using vintage Huret derailleurs, and while they work just fine, the rear (a DuoPar) wasn't well matched to the modern 8-speed cassette and Suntour barcon shifters. I swapped the Duopar for a vintage Suntour XC (see below):

    ...and I'm in heaven! Such as smooth drivetrain now...

  78. Tonight will be the first group ride this season, our weather has been crap so far, nice tonight though (73°). We do about 20 to 30 miles. Its fun, but there are always the ones who like to turn it into a race and try to be cool.
    Did you ever get my email?

  79. Just a word on the basic friendliness of Campy brifters. Underneath the indexing is a friction shifter. You trim them. You hardly notice you're doing it, it's not obtrusive and it's not work. But you trim them. It's friction.
    This also means you can play around with all sorts of nonstandard setups and they usually shift OK, sometimes really well. I mean 6sp freewheels and Shimano cassettes and old Mavic Simplex SunTour derailleurs and it may be funky but you shift. You get to play. Campy is for play. You can get the old parts cheap and then play.
    Did you know you can switch cams in 8 & 9 speed Campy brifters? There are more tricks, I sure don't know them all. Campy is not fully realized until there's a rider and a wrench who do stuff. It's waiting for you.

  80. Well, I did the ride. It was not like the nice one Lynne described. I think they used the term "beginners" loosely. I suspect I won't be able to walk tomorrow. Oh and there was some debate as to whether my Rivendell would be allowed. In the end it was, but I was told in no uncertain terms to get a different bike asap. Anyway, I am alive : )

  81. Girls are mean.
    "What the hell is that?!"
    "You have racks. And Powergrips?"
    "You better keep up, 'cuz we're not waiting for you."
    "You're slow on that thing. Get a new bike or leave. I'm pulling way too much."
    “Look, that perfume you’re wearing stinks. Just sit at the back so we don’t have to smell it.”
    "Oh, BTW I'm taking Bif to the prom and there's nothing you can do about it."
    High school group ride.

  82. They weren't too mean. Part of it was just confusion from never having seen such a bike before. But partly they had a point. The bar-ends put me at a distinct disadvantage to the rest of them. Also, the Riv is heavier and slower than their bikes; after all it's slower than my vintage Bianchi even. I def had to work harder just to compensate.

    Thankfully, they did not take issue with the PowerGrips. Toeclips are allowed, and I guess the PGs were perceived as a type of those.

    I was also complimented on my hair.

    There was some surprise upon learning that I planned to cycle home afterwards and I was offered rides, which I thought was just priceless.

    I need to write a post about the whole experience, but I lack pictures.

  83. There was some surprise upon learning that I planned to cycle home afterwards and I was offered rides, which I thought was just priceless.

    Ha, no kidding! I'm sure you were at a distinct advantage there, having good lighting on your Riv for the ride home (I'm guessing few if any other riders there had adequate lighting?). I also find that a relaxing slow-paced ride home alone after a group ride can be soothing.

    I'm curious to know what others were riding... mostly modern? Carbon fiber? Brifters? Clipless? Would your vintage Bianchi with downtube shifters be considered acceptable? Would any modifications be required (clips/clipless, brifters, etc)?

    One nice thing about vintage road bikes is that they're generally amenable to modern upgrades-- lots of classic steel frames take to brifters and modern drivetrains quite nicely.

    Are you going to continue with the training series?

  84. @Somervillain-- that Suntour is lovely looking!

  85. It takes some chops to put yourself at a disadvantage and still follow through with the ride--well done!! Advantages of cleats, clothing, lightweight wheels and responsive frames are massive. Don't let it diminish your passion for riding though. I find it priceless that you are the sole rider who committed to riding your bike home, too.


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