Since buying the new road bike two weeks ago, I've only gotten to ride it on the trainer in the garage on account of the weather and trying to fit it into my running and mountain biking. But today I finally got to take it out for a proper spin and I have to say I'm pretty impressed with how it and I performed.
The bike is still in its break-in period and the cables are stretching and I'm getting a feel for its subtleties, but all in all it rode well beyond its pricetag would suggest. It was very stable on the twisty descents dropping down from Snoqualmie Falls towards Fall City and also on the descent on Tolt Hill Road. Perhaps more importantly, however, was how well it climbed. It was almost as stiff in the rear as my old Klein Quantum Race and the way the bike transferred power was impressive. Even more impressive was the Ultegra 10-speed tranny. My old Klein was a mere 8-speed and while I was a bit apprehensive if I would be able to climb Tolt Hill Road and Snoqualmie Parkway on a dual-ring setup, the gearing was perfect and only ever-so briefly did I even need the 25-tooth cog.
More to the point, I surprised myself. My first on-the-road ride in four years went very well. I rode 43 miles with 2,040 feet of climbing and finished in 2 hours, 31 minutes. I wasn't pushing to ride particularly fast -- never sprinted -- I was just focusing on not having to stop. The wind picked up later in the day while I was out and despite an ever-so-gradual decline on Route 202 coming back towards Fall City the wind was holding me to about 16 mph. If not for the mountainous scenery I would have thought I was back in the windy countryside of eastern North Carolina.
As I expected my feet did eventually get pretty cold after 40 miles, but I think it was partly due to my road shoes not fitting well with me wearing two pairs of socks. I also remembered why I used to always ride with a bandana -- I sweat a ton when I'm cycling and so much salt got into my eyes that I couldn't open them for a few seconds. I had to grab the water bottle and flush my eyes out in order to continue. But it was a marvelous day out on the road. The route Erik Alston showed me last weekend was indeed a good one and featured great views, smooth roads, and few cars. So glad to be back doing the things I love.