First Ride of the Spring

We’ve been hither and yon this spring, which means our “first” spring ride happened twice. For two months we were much further south, which gave us two months with some biking. Then we came back to cold, dreary New England. (I am a Southerner by birth, and after two years here I still wear sweaters through June.) After being back for several weeks, we finally went on our “first” Spring ride a few days ago.

I was itching to hit our default summer ride, the Blackstone River Bikeway. Since I bought Elton, the road bike, long after our summer riding ended, I really wanted to see how he stacked up against my more commuter-style bike. The route as we ride it is a smidge over 20 miles, almost double the length of anything I’ve ridden on the new bike. Also, my total mileage for the year thus far was about 50 miles.

You can see where this is going, right?


Moral of this story: just because you did something three times a week in October does not mean you can do it in April.

There are a few things about Elton that still need some dialing in. And we all know that any kind of bike problem is only magnified by distance. That thing that bothers you a little at mile five will be the only thing you can possibly think about by mile twenty.

For starters, I did all of my riding last season with padded gloves. Not mega-padded, but some. My cool weather gloves are excellent, but unpadded. After 15 miles, this was a problem. I’m also struggling a little bit with the transition to “real” road bike posture. Most importantly, Elton’s saddle is awful. Before this ride, I thought is was just a little uncomfortable. Now the truth is out–it’s unbearable.

The whole thing is my fault, I think. Elton came from small bike shop, in the winter. Their stock of accessories and components was running pretty low. After a ten minute ride with no padded shorts, I decided that I didn’t really care for the saddle that was already on the bike, which (sob) was a probably quite expensive Selle San Marco of some sort. (I at least could have resold it! The value exchange I was making did not cross my mind.) Since their stocks were pretty low, I had to pick from some not-very-desirable options.

I wound up with this one:

awful saddle

It’s bad. I thought, “Oh, it looks like the Terry Butterfly, and everybody loves those.” It isn’t that it’s over-padded, which is what I would expect the problem to be with a lower-end saddle. It’s that stupid cut out. To make room for the cut out, the saddle is wider in the center. Wide enough that it digs ruthlessly into my very-uppermost thigh. It’s also, because of the cut out, higher on the edges than in the center, which is really not what I’m used to. I’m still feeling bruised, after two days. My other bike has a Fizik saddle. I always thought (after 30 miles or so) that it was maybe not quite right. Now I’m kicking myself that I can’t trade them, because I left the other bike with my parents while we move.

On the plus side, even out of shape from my serious lack of off-season exercise, I beat my best time from last year by a minute. I also learned that Elton is a blast around curves and down hills. That bike flies. Sometimes more than this tentative cyclist really wants, in fact. I was sprinting for our snack stop at 20mph when I realized that there was a sharp curve. No time to slow down. Nothing to do except get the pedals right and lean. And ZOOM. It was the scariest thing I think I’ve ever done on a bike.

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