Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I am Curious, Yellow

Obscure film references aside, the past week for me has been dominated by equal parts anticipation and anxiety. I've ridden my loaner roadbike for 120 miles in preparation for the next paceline ride... which, ironically, was cancelled for the second time in a row due to rain. The more time passes, the more my anticipation builds and the more exaggerated my anxieties become.

The Co-Habitant and I did two fast-paced, hilly rides over the weekend - he on his Surly Cross Check and I on the borrowed Seven. We went over the same hills where he has previously passed me nonchalantly regardless of which bikes we were both riding... only this time our positions were reversed dramatically. I shot past him while exerting little effort, continued to merrily cycle uphill, and then waited for him to catch up as I sipped water and sniffed flowers.

Of course we expected that a racy roadbike would be faster than a heavier and more relaxed cyclocross bike with wide tires and a saddlebag. But since he is a stronger cyclist than I am to begin with, I thought that the discrepancy would level the playing field between us. Neither of us thought that it would make me this much faster uphill.

The interesting thing is that on downhills and flats there was not much difference between us; it was uphill that the bike really began to matter. This parallels my experience of the paceline ride on my Rivendell, where it was specifically on the uphill portions that I felt a disadvantage to the others.

But while I am now confident in the bike's climbing ability, this is tempered by a fear not only of its speed on descents, but also of my relative unfamiliarity with its handling. After putting nearly 2,000 miles on my Rivendell I pretty much know how it behaves across a wide range of situations. The 120 miles on the Seven are just not sufficient for that kind of comfort to develop. I don't mind admitting that I'm plain scared when riding it at 25mph+ downhill - scared of the narrow tires, scared of the carbon fork, and scared of its precise but aggressive cornering. The fear saps away my confidence, making me squeeze the brakes and cycle more conservatively than I am capable of.

Being 100% comfortable with a bicycle is not something I can force; it takes time. My curiosity is a strong motivator to keep riding and practicing, specifically seeking out those situations that still make me nervous.

While the bike is in my possession I've fitted it with my own saddle, which has made it more comfortable to ride long distances. I've also installed my pedals (the narrow MKS Streams) and PowerGrips. This looks silly on a bike that is typically ridden clipless, but I don't care: I need to ride it in a way that makes me comfortable. I've also now raised the saddle another 5mm from how it's shown in this picture, which almost makes it look like the standover is not too high. Almost. The length of the toptube and the handlebar set-up work well for me (the Ride Studio Cafe matched the configuration to one of my own bikes) and it's only the seat tube height that's off. The result is that the bike fits me extremely well when I am riding it, but looks too big when I am not. Ideally, the frame would have the same virtual top tube length, with the actual top tube just a little bit sloped in order to reduce standover. Given the available demo models I prefer this set-up over a smaller frame, because I don't like toe overlap. All in all I feel good on this bike, which is what matters.

I really hope they don't cancel the paceline ride next week; the anticipation is getting ridiculous. In the meantime, all I can do is keep riding.

73 comments:

  1. Which saddle is that? It looks like it has a nice wide slot that would decrease pelvic pressure, which my wife complains about with her Selle Lady. I'm about to buy another saddle to help her out.
    Thanks! Marc in Seattle

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  2. Marc - It's a Selle Anatomica. They are on sale via several online sources right now if you look carefully.

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  3. Selle was owned by a guy who died on a long distance ride last year, known by friends. Last I heard the company was taken over by his widow; best of luck to her.

    Your weather is pissing me off.

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  4. Yes, that was very sad to read about.
    My condolences to her : (

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  5. Maybe he's no longer the stronger cyclist at this point? Perhaps you might now have a better power to weight ratio? How much might you attribute this to being in the proper gear without losing momentum while searching with the friction shifters?

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  6. SJP - He was still the stronger cyclist as of a week earlier, so I doubt I improved that much since then : )

    Still trying to understand power to weight ratio and not sure I get it entirely.

    The Ergo shifters were helpful, as was the closer gearing. But this accounted only in small part for my advantage. The bike itself felt like it floated up that hill compared to my other bikes.

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  7. I recently acquired my first truly "fast" bike and have also been amazed at how it feels like it's pulling me up the hills, and how I can blow by, with ease, folks who I always thought were stronger/faster riders than me.

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  8. How do you like that Sella Anitomica saddle? I have one.

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  9. melissatheragamuffinMay 25, 2011 at 7:00 AM

    To me it seems strange to hear Surly called a "much heavier bike." I have the Surly LHT and it isn't nearly as heavy as my mountain bike is - which is my only other bike.

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  10. In comparing a fast road bike to a slower bike uphill, I characterize it as having legs. Kind of like the difference between a thoroughbred and a draft horse. The fast road bike just has a better gait and puts the pedaling force to better use to get you up the hill.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the bike, as long as you're confident that the brakes function well. It's more the rider than the bike, especially if you're comparing one good bike to another. Too bad worry ignores logic.

    Garth-

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  11. Oh my goodness - the downhills would be the end of me. I simply do not like going down fast. I have to coast and brake.

    The idea of passing the Co-H is so fascinating to me. B has a used LeMond and he just coasts pretty much when we go out together ( not often) and I struggle to keep up. It would be such a boon to pass him and have to wait for him one day... ( which is why he wants me to get a fast bike...)

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  12. I think you might be about to enter your "Asskicking Phase". If this paceline thing gets comfy for you you could be one of those really fast, smooth riders that the rest of us wish we were.

    A year ago this blog by the beginner cyclist made me feel so accomplished and knowledgeable in a helpful, condescending grandfather sort of way. If you become one of those riders that make me feel old and slow than I'm going to start hanging out on Bikesnobs blog, making fun of your prose in a bitter, condescending grandfatherly way.

    Spindizzy

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  13. You being out riding while they're staying home because of rain means you'll do great. You're going to crush that ride!

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  14. Velouria,
    I enjoy pace line riding, my wife does not. One of the most important things is to be relaxed and make every move smoothly and deliberately. Herky jerky movements of a timid rider can cause accidents. A peleton of experienced equally capable riders is organic, like a flock of birds or a school of fish and a zen-like experience. I might suggest if you are not 100% comfortable on your loaner bike, practice with a group which is willing to help and teach you. Don't go with a group that has testosterone poisoning.

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  15. "Still trying to understand power to weight ratio and not sure I get it entirely."

    V, think of a 10 hp engine that weighs 10 lbs, versus a 25 hp engine that weighs 50 lbs, and you'll get the idea. If the endurance under strain between power sources is similar, the 10 pounder will do better overall.

    Corey K

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  16. That's great to hear that you can go fast on this bike! I'd love to be able to do another ride with you and the co-hab if our schedules can mesh! And the hillier the ride the better! I need training for D2R2!

    Bummer about the second cancellation, but the more riding you get in and confidence you develop before an actual training ride, the better off you are.

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  17. Dave - I like the Selle Anatomica, but it is a weird saddle and probably not for everyone. The outer parts are rigid, but the inside has a lot of give to it, which some may not like. Also, it seems that a man could get their anatomy stuck in the cut-out?...

    melissatheragamuffin - I would have said the same thing earlier. But there is no comparison between a titanium racing bike's weight and a Surly's. It's all relative.

    Garth - Wait... So how is it about the rider and not the bike if I can go at least 50% faster up the same hill on a different bike? I assure you that I have not become a better rider in the meantime!

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  18. I am not sure what tire pressure you run on your Sam, but even if it's about the same as I run in my 650B tires right now I am guessing no more then 60PSI, the road tires on the Seven should be above 95PSI and probably more! That combined with the slim profile cuts down on rolling resistance immensely, allowing you to maintain momentum. Going uphill is also were all those light weight parts really make there presence felt.

    I know it does not have brifters, but why wouldn't you ride the Bianchi???? It's probably better suited to that then the Sam, although not maybe on the same level as the Seven!

    masmojo

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  19. masmojo - The Bianchi has DT shifters and I have difficulty using them. I was having a hard enough time with the Riv's bar-ends on the previous ride.

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  20. ^ Oh and I am not necessarily more comfortable on high speed descents on the Bianchi than I am on the Seven; I haven't ridden it all that much yet either.

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  21. This sounds so familiar. The adjustment period with my new titanium bike is being hampered by our move to a new (enormous) city--I haven't found anywhere yet that it's really the bicycle of choice. I've ridden maybe 100 miles on it since I bought it in January. It's just *so* fast. It doesn't help that it's my first "real" road bike, so I need to adjust to that, too.

    I can also run off and leave my significant other on bike rides now, despite him being tremendously stronger. (He could race, and win, mountain bike events if he wanted to.) The trick is how quickly the bike accelerates, thanks mostly to its weight. My bike weighs about ten pounds less than his. Once I get a little ahead, thanks to the acceleration, it's hard for him to catch up. He does, eventually, because he's a stronger cyclist, but I could hold my own in a half-mile race. Crazy.

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  22. It looks like you're still a bit uncomfortable with getting the handlebars below seat level--perhaps a function of the frame size--but that, too, provides some leverage and power.

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  23. I doubt she needs them any lower than they are now. It won't help hill climbing and she's very comfortable as it is set up. And fast.

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  24. MDI, no doubt it's both comfortable and fast. Good for her! Mostly, it becomes a vicious circle if one gets involved with fast rides and keeping up with others who have maximized their equipment and efficiency. It's the reason i quit racing ;-)

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  25. I think that over time I will keep lowering my handlebars, and this is something that will come naturally. It's also bike specific - on some bikes I feel better balanced with the bars a little lower, and on others I feel more comfortable with them a little higher. Size plays into it as well of course.

    When I look at road cyclists training in the area where I ride, their bar height is all over the place. The women in the training ride groups mostly had their bars either level with or a bit higher than the saddle. On modern CF bikes with drastically sloping top tubes this is less noticeable, because you see a lot of seatpost showing and no stem.

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  26. Velouria, I meant vis a vis skill and handling. You might be faster on the fancy new bike, but I would think your skill level is more relevant to whether you can handle your bike in the paceline than your familiarity with the bike. In other words, I'd be a much greater risk on any bike I own than you would be on your new loaner :)

    Besides, now you can apparently leave the others in the dust if you want!

    Garth-

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  27. Downhill speed - You must have confidence. It will come. Pushing too hard will not work.

    Look at where you want to go. Your bike will go where you look. If you are busy looking at the edge of the road and all the obstructions there, your bike will drift to the edge of the road even as you attempt to steer away.

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  28. Anon - While I am beyond the stage of that sort of thing happening, what's getting me is fear, on a very visceral level. The bike is so fast and the tires so narrow... what if I hit a huge bump I don't see? what if the CF fork explodes or whatever it is they do? I start to imagine all this and I psych myself out. I grow certain that I am plummeting to my death.

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  29. There's no need to lower the bars if there's any of the bad pain when they're lower. Used to be guys like Merckx would have the tops of their bars just a little lower than the saddle and bend their elbows a lot, like you are in the pic.

    Racers now use a huge amount of drop and park their hands on the hoods, using the drops when necessary, and generally have less bend in the elbow.

    Aside from being more aero, if a rider has a short HT and slams the bar down it will steer quicker and feel more precise. Of course individual flexibility is big.

    Low bar height also means the rider can keep recruiting the large muscles when standing. He basically just gets up in a similar position as seated but rotates it forward, putting his nose over or past the front axle. Can't do this with high bars.

    If someone rides like this a smaller frame, within reason, is more of a factor.

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  30. The elbow bending thing, I keep meaning to ask about that.

    I see some cyclists with bent elbows and others with totally straight arms, which mystifies me. If I can't bend my elbows, then the (drop)handlebar setup feels uncomfortable for me. I need to bend them in order to feel that I have optimal steering control of the bike. With my arms extended straight it feels like I am steering a shopping cart. The only exception is when I am braking downhill and need to brake fast. Then I lock my arms and it helps me slow down.

    BTW: We were told not to get out of the saddle during the paceline ride.

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  31. Mm. Fear. Two ways to get over it. Time, but doesn't always work.

    Hurtling down a mountain pass; guaranteed to make 25 mph feel molasses slow.

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  32. I'm suddenly recalling the debate here many months ago about bike weight versus speed, especially as it pertains to climbing, wherein I seem to remember myself being in the minority in arguing for lightweight bikes for climbing any kind of hills.

    I wonder what the group consensus is on that now??? :)

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  33. somervillain - If I remember that conversation correctly, I think we were talking about upright transportation bikes. In that sphere, I have indeed found only a small connection between weight and speed uphill. That is, I have ridden light upright bikes that were more difficult uphill than heavy ones.

    But in general, I have no opinion on this topic; I can only recount my own experiences. Weight is not the only difference between a bike like the Seven and a bike like the Riv Sam Hillborne. The geometry is considerably different, the tubing is different, there are just too many factors.

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  34. Totally straight arms means the rider isn't supporting himself with his core or legs and isn't riding hard. You can see people, mostly guys with big bellies, basically doing one long pushup when they ride, their backs kind of swayed under the load. When you bend your elbows you have less pressure on your hands and can grip less hard, have more sensitivity and are more confident steering around little things. Compare to tensing up the body: you can't steer around anything.

    Judging from how bent your elbows are you could conceivably go much lower w/your bar setup, but like I said it's kind of irrelevant at this point.

    The leaders don't want you to stand because each pedal stroke thrusts the bike backwards, into the wheel of the girl behind.

    I had a "discussion" with JH about locking elbows while braking hard. Basically it kinds works but has to be in conjuction with activating your core and keeping the weight on your feet and not hands. Just locked elbows can cause the big rig to jacknife.

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  35. But in general, I have no opinion on this topic; I can only recount my own experiences. Weight is not the only difference between a bike like the Seven and a bike like the Riv Sam Hillborne. The geometry is considerably different, the tubing is different, there are just too many factors.

    Oh, I totally agree about things like geometry and gearing; but even for an every day city bike, I find myself desiring lighter and lighter, as I find an inverse correlation between the ease with which I can climb and a bike's weight, regardless of other factors such as geometry, and it's no small correlation.

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  36. Hi Velouria
    a lighter Bike and especially lighter wheels give you a substantial advantage over your husband. Ad to that the higher air pressure and tires that are optimised for low rolling resistance you get a huge advantage. You should use that to your advantage. Races are won uphill not downhill. Also trust your new bike. It being lighter and more agile will help you getting out of tight situations on a reflex. The nowadays fantastic strong and fine modulate brakes help a lot too.If you would try to adapt to clipless pedals you would gain another advantage, not in speed but reduce a health risk. A broken foot will give you trouble for years and might force you to give up riding a bike once and for ever. When they came up in the late 80's everybody in the road circus got a pair and never looked back, despite them being expensive, heavy and you walked like a clumsy duck. Also the shoes sucked at the time. ( a touring model might help they have flat insoles and are not as tight as race only shoes and the thick rubber outsole helps with walking. To get confidence for fast downhill riding I was advised by my trainer to hug the toptube with my legs. It gave me the feeling I cannot fall of and also it dampens or prevents the vibration of the frame at really high speed. Still do so today above 50kph.
    Have a nice ride
    Thomas

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  37. Next stop for somervillain--modern carbon fiber bikes. :)

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  38. Although it's not a hard fast rule, in the past I have noticed that the majority of people riding with locked elbows/ straight arms are generally more inexperienced/ recreational riders. Two reasons for this, first they never learned another way or nobody ever told them not to! And secondly, it takes a certain amount of phsyical conditioning NOT to lock your arms. Not proping yourself up with your arms locked means the stomach and back muscles have to work harder. You really have to practice, by conciously bending the elbows, a little at first and more as you get used to it, after many hours muscle memory kicks in and it will feel weird if you don't bend your arms!

    Having only started riding hard again a couple months ago, I have not got my form back yet and find myself riding with locked elbows sometimes, especially when I am tired or feeling lazy!

    I think if your cohabitant were to switch to some thinner tires, instead of those monster tires, he would be right up there with you!

    I figured the DT shifters were an issue, but it should be pretty easy to add brifters, if you found this was something you wanted to do regularly!

    masmojo

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  39. I have found that it is easier to correct after a bump when you are moving faster, because the bike sort of autocorrects when you are going fast. You may feel you are too far off balance but when you touch down it rights itself.
    On the fear of the carbon fork exploding, I am afraid of them myself. Maybe you should stop reading blogs about them. It is a little like fear of flying. Hypnotism? Therapy?

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  40. Can't offer anything other than good luck to ya Velouria :) though this did make for a good read for me learned a few things as I have never raced nor done a group ride. Hmmm not standing on the bike? Now that would be hard for me specially with hill climbing.

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  41. Locked elbows=sore wrists in my experience. Plus when you bend your elbows your muscles do more of the work of supporting your upper body instead of absorbing all that stress and pounding through your bones and joints. I can't think of any dynamic sports(like skiing, climbing, skating etc,.) where you ever lock up a joint as a normal technique...

    I'm as likely to be wrong as right about some of this, but I don't know anyone who rides a lot who doesn't ride in a more or less relaxed, loose sort of way(I don't want anyone to think I mean "sloppy" though).

    I personally tend to look like I'm about to slide of the side of the bike into the ditch, but it's sort of an advanced technique that few riders seem to be able to master...

    Spindizzy

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  42. so my steel serotta's geometry and my weight are such that at descent speed of about 55 mph, the bike goes into this frame/wheel resonance where the whole bike vibrates at a high amplitude and i lose steering control. clamping both knees on the top tube (easy to do in a descent position) usually stops it but it's a pain to have to deal with this. always wanted to swap to a new geometry fork but never got around to it...

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  43. If you hit a huge bump you don't see and you are relaxed on the bike not much happens. Really.

    One advanced racing move you haven't see yet is what to do when riders go down in front of you. In a pile. Often the best course of action is to go right over the pile. It's easy. (Also takes great photos.)

    Having your arms bent and having that come to you naturally puts you ahead of 98% of new riders and many if not most experienced ones. Bikes are inherently stable. They remain stable when you hit the huge unseen bump. Being relaxed, arms bent, increases the chance you won't overreact and over control the bike. Get tense you go down.

    You can't rush all this. If you try too many scary things too quick you will tense up and go down. Back off before you get scared, then try it again.

    I never broke a fork. I've broken a stem at 35mph in midpack, and stayed upright. I've been in the geometric center of a 50-rider crash, and been upright, trackstanding, when the dust cleared. Stay on the bike. Never jump into an expected crash. You don't know what will happen next even when it seems there's no hope. Stay on the bike.

    Also stay on the bike just going for rides w/yourself and friends.

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  44. Okay, I'm going to go so far as to post two comments on one blog post:

    The carbon fiber fork will not explode, whatever Rivendell says. Honest. My own co-habitant is a materials engineer. His best buds in graduate school all did carbon-fiber layup. Scientifically speaking, that carbon fiber fork is one of the strongest things on that bike. An accident that would ruin that fork would also probably have ruined any other fork.

    The problem comes if/when the fork is damaged. Once the structural integrity of the fork is compromised the first time, further failures are, indeed, more likely to be severe. If one wrecks a bike with carbon components, they need to be examined very carefully. Any damage that goes deeper than the clear coat means the part probably needs to be replaced.

    I think most of the dramatic stories are 1) people who didn't realize they had already damaged their parts 2) very low-end or early generation carbon fiber and/or 3) accidents severe enough to have caused significant damage to anything.

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  45. Next stop for somervillain--modern carbon fiber bikes. :)

    Ha! I wonder how a carbon fiber step-through with front basket and child seat in the back would feel? With brifters!

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  46. warren said...
    "at descent speed of about 55 mph..."


    Are you joking?...
    Or do you by any chance mean km?
    : (

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  47. For anyone wondering about factors affecting bike speed, the analytic cycling site has some simple calculators that are very informative. Try this one for example: http://www.analyticcycling.com/ForcesSpeed_Page.html

    You can easily see what happens to your speed if you change your aerodynamics (frontal area), or rolling resistance, or weight, or power. I put in a positive slope (0.07) for a hill climb, entered in the weight of me plus bike, and then asked what happened if I altered any of the other parameters by 10%. Try this and you will see that hill climbing speed responds directly to weight or power (either a 10% drop in weight, or a 10% increase in power will give a nearly 10% corresponding improvement in climbing speed). In contrast, hill climbing speed is pretty insensitive to changes in aerodynamics or rolling resistance (10% changes make less than 1% difference in speed).
    I don't think there is anything mysterious here. When climbing a hill, the biggest physical force the rider has to overcome is gravity. This force is directly proportional to mass, and wind resistance and rolling resistance pale by comparison at the speeds typical of climbing. If you either shed weight or increase power you will climb faster. Veloria may have easily dropped 10 to 20 pounds by moving from the Rivendell with heavy steel frame, 42 mm fat tires, full fenders, dual racks, and dynamo hub and lights to the stripped down Titanium 7 racing bike. If she herself weighs 125 pounds, her combined weight (rider plus bike) probably still dropped by 10% or more. The co-habitant may be a stronger rider. However if he weighs 190 pounds instead of 125, and is riding a bike that is also 10 to 20 pounds heavier, he has a LOT more gravitational force to overcome, and should be at a disadvantage on a climb. There may be lots of subtle factors to bike frames and what a ride feels like. However there is also some very simple physics involved, and those are easy to explore at the analytic cycling site.

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  48. That's what I was saying about mountain descents. All time top is 56, regular loop top is 52. It's hard to find a safe enough place to get to 60, somewhere in the Sierras I imagine.

    Not the first time I've heard someone have a shimmy on a Serotta.

    "Often the best course of action is to go right over the pile." Uh, I've bunny hopped people and "made myself light" but this description is hilarious.

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  49. Don't worry about the bike. If the person in front of you can run the route, you can too. Your bike is not any less capable than any other road bike--in fact it is probably better built than the majority out there. Just don't think about anything but follow, follow, follow.

    If you feel tense, try to force yourself to relax. Shake a bit, maybe change your hand position.

    Try and focus on how fun and free the speed feels.

    Only other suggestion is to wear gloves. It helps me avoid death gripping the handlebars, and helps wind chapped hands.

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  50. Perhaps the discussion should change directions towards the absolute joys of paceline riding....Of person and machine and exertion....It's quite beautiful.

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  51. I had a high speed shimmy that turned out to be a front wheel that was only a mm or so off center. I was 19 and just lived with it till my "Coach" heard me complain about it and figured it out in about a minute. I had paid what seemed like crazy money for some super fly race wheels and assumed they were perfect.
    I centered them up and they were lovely after.

    There are few things that encourage concentration on a bike like fast descents. I've seen just over 60 drafting a tandem coming down Rt.33 in Va. on our way down from Skyline Drive a couple of years ago. It was pretty cool, like falling out of the sky but I was ever so anxious. The interesting part was that they were working hard and I was feathering the brake, when we got to the bottom and I moved out of the pocket it was like I opened a 'chute.

    RE: crashing in a pile. Whatever your front wheel gets over your rear wheel probably will too. If you can get that front tire up and over you sometimes come out alive. Same with curbs, logs and in the case of the trials guys, cars and dumpsters. A good bunnyhop is a valuable thing to be able to pull but the big massed sprint crash is an 'effing horror.

    Spindizzy

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  52. You're such a roadie now. Admit it. Bwahahaha. I think its great BTW. Next thing you'll be riding crits.

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  53. You are a brave woman. I just can't do that kind of speed. Going over about 20 downhill seems deathly dangerous to me.

    I know you don't do helmet debates. I'm just wondering if you are required to wear one on the paceline rides, or no? A nice race helmet is far lighter than the Bern you have, looks better with a bike like that, and doesn't really crunch your hair. It might make you feel less nervous, too, even if it's not going to make that much difference in an actual crash (though I think they do, I realize there are also counter arguments. I'm talking mental advantage here). I'm a very slow skier. The first year I took lessons, I didn't own a helmet. The next year, because the kids were required to have them, I bought one so as not to be hypocritical. I felt much more confident with it on. Now, I know, people say that over-confidence about helmets leads to accidents, but when you're as nervous as I am, it really doesn't make me into Bodie Miller. It just means I'm not quite as scared of falling. Might be worth a try, to see if it helped psychologically. It certainly wouldn't hurt to give it a go, and the bike shop might even have one you could try out for free. Of course, this assuming you haven't already tried this.

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  54. snarkypup - The training rides require road helmets and I wear one like everybody else. But no, this does not make me feel more confident. It does make me feel like I am part of the group though, and in that sense I enjoy it. I will leave the topic at that and hope others do as well.

    Bif - I think the cartoon version of me wants to be a roadie... The question is, am I like the cartoon version of me? : )

    You guys are scaring me with the crash pile-up/ bunny hopping scenarios. Is that the intent? MDI keeps trying to make me imagine it as well, since he thinks I am not fully processing the risk of this kind of cycling.

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  55. Ah, there's a bit of risk, but not too much in the beginning pace line rides. Enjoy the experience, gain some confidence, test the bike, and report back to your eager readers.

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  56. I was thinking our guy war stories weren't helping your cause so much as to confirm we aren't/weren't a bunch of wimps who now comment on a blog called LB. BTW we're still alive and typing.

    I think we are being simultaneously encouraging and realistic on our parts. The idea is to be made aware of risks and to point out near disaster can strike but can be avoided too with the proper mindset.

    Regarding the 50+ mph hill: I point out to Mrs. GR constantly at home and before rides potential bad sightlines for drivers, crappy parts of the lane to avoid, to hit the brakes more, etc. then she bombs it. Riding for transport has a different set of risks, for contrast.

    You could die doing it but it could kill you when you're older and haven't done it.

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  57. "Are you joking?...
    Or do you by any chance mean km?
    : ( "

    I've knowingly exceeded 60 mph twice on a downhill; once on a first gen Stumpjumper with road tires, and once on my old Peugeot road bike, both back in the early 80s. (GR Jim, it was outside of Weaverville, heading west in the Trinity Alps.)
    It can be done, and yes, it is rather, um, exhilarating. Knowing you can handle it, and picking a line on the road to follow is key.

    "Look at where you want to go. Your bike will go where you look."

    This anonymous person has seen the Elephant.

    CK

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  58. Et tu, Corey?

    Okay, I fold.

    I could say that it's only because I haven't ridden down hills steep enough to go 60mph, but that would be a lie. Had I ridden down such hills I'd be braking like mad and whimpering!

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  59. "Had I ridden down such hills I'd be braking like mad and whimpering!"

    Oh, I whimpered, I cried out, I trembled, (and I just might have even spontaneously emitted a small quantity of bladder-products) but they were all lost in the rush of the wind...

    Corey K

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  60. Oh jeez. On top of all of your comments, I just had the misfortune to read this.

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  61. Gary Smith sure knows how to write one loonng blog entry. Funny, the Scott in the story helped me out a bit with my IF.

    I'm sorry, it came off as being whiny but he did hit his head and it seems like he's never bit it that hard before. Rookie.

    Watch me get hit by a Carma now.

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  62. Good luck in the paceline. It's been fun watching you broaden your cycling horizons. Now, for your next adventure, how about bombing down an alpine single track on a mountain bike. Sounds fun, right?

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  63. I confess a complete lack of interest in mountain biking or cyclocross. The velodrome on the other hand...

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  64. "he thinks I am not fully processing the risk of this kind of cycling."

    I agree, and have no interest in paceline riding because I think it greatly magnifies the chance of a serious crash when riding. Any rider with a flat tire, mechanical problem, moment's inattention, mis-judgement of a turn, etc can take down multiple people in the group. The speed of the group is higher than solo riding, so the crashes that do occur are also more likely to cause serious injury. I wish the best to those who do choose to ride in groups. However, I will happily watch from afar, and continue to enjoy the control, meditative freedom, and reduced worry of solo riding.

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  65. Reading that crash account and all the posts from us going on about mountain descents and pile-ups and stuff makes me want to just say to you, "don't worry, you'll be fine." But there is some risk and you seem to have a good grasp of that, you also don't sound like you are going to hang it up and quit. I hope you never have a bad crash(or ANY crash), but if you do I'll be so interested in what you have to say. You'll probably manage in a paragraph what the rest of us have been trying to figure out how to express for years.

    You must agree that a little anxiety adds interest to things for some of us or you wouldn't be so into the Velodrome(which is pretty intimidating to me).

    Spindizzy

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  66. Thank you Ground Round Jim for finding my little offering effing hilarious. That was the point. Most all of the little incidents of cycling just turn into funny stories.
    .
    Velouria is one smart lady to be so cautious and thoughtful. I'd much rather meet her in a paceline than the burly guy with the strength & animal spirits to start off w/28mph pacelining but no common sense.

    The risks are real. Smaller than driving a car, but real. Safe drivers and safe riders work at it, talk about it.

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  67. is your bike fitted? your posture looks a little awkward in the photo
    - yap

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  68. Reading this made me actually want a real road bike for the first time ever. I would LOVE to beat my boyfriend up a hill for once.

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  69. This makes me want a carbon road bike so I can finally be faster than Greg!

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  70. So....is the paceline ride on, or cancelled again?

    I really look forward to your take on it, now that you have a completely fitting sort of steed.

    Go Velouria!

    Corey K

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  71. It doesn't seem like it will rain...

    ...But I got injured a couple of days ago and am not 100% sure if I can do the ride this week : (( Very annoying that this had to happen now. It's almost as if the universe is trying to tell me not to do it. No, I don't mean that, I'm not superstitious... or am I? Jeez!

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  72. Hey which bottles and cages are you using? Love the blog from Long Beach CA,

    J

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  73. J - The bottle cages are the King Cage stainless "Iris." The bottles pictured on the Surly are Klean Kanteen, twined and shellacked : )

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