The bug bit again. My trusty Trek 7300 hybrid gets me to and from work in all kinds of weather in smooth comfort. It's also the no-brainer choice for grocery store shopping, using the rack and panniers. But I've been feeling the need for something lighter and potentially faster, but still rugged enough for daily commuting.
I began restoring the 1976 Schwinn Le Tour II, and while that was fun, I don't have the time, knowledge and resources to complete it at this time. And, truth be told, I am still not 100% what I want to do with it.
On Friday afternoon I saw a Craig's List ad for a 2006 Specialized Tricross. I began researching what a cross bike was all about, and specifically, what the Tricross had to offer, and decided that this might be the bike for me.
Some of the features that attracted me were:
- road style frame and bars
- light, by comparison to the 7300 and Le Tour (about 22 pounds)
- carbon fiber fork and seat post for reduced weight and vibration dampening
- wide enough tires for bumpy city streets, gravel, and maybe dry dirt
- skinny enough tires for smooth, fast rolling on the paved trail and streets
- lots of braze-ons for racks, bottle cages, etc. The carbon fork can even take a rack.
- wide handlebars with extra brake levers on the tops
- short enough reach to make the bike comfortable sitting up, as well as on the drops
I called the owner and make arrangements to go look at the bike. We met in a parking lot and I rode it around a bit. The next day we met again and gave him the cash and he gave me the bike, and even threw in a bell. (Thanks Mark A.!)
This morning I took the Tricross out for its maiden voyage (for me; Mark had already put 5,000 miles on the bike!). I rode with Munson and Miles on about 40 miles of pavement and gravel. I was comfortable on the saddle the entire time, so I think it's a pretty good fit so far. There may be a question about the 54 cm. frame being a little small for me, but it seems to fit my inseam well enough. Time will tell, I suppose.
Here are some photos of the Tricross:
Here's a view from over the rear wheel. Specialized took some liberty in using oddly shaped tubes and stays. It creates an interesting effect.
I've never seen cantilever brakes up close before. They still look weird to me. How can I keep them from shrieking like a banshee?
New Things Learned
I met Miles and Munson at 7am this morning for a gravel ride out towards Bennington. Munson had seen a gravel road called Dutch Hall Road and wanted to see where it went. Once we left the pavement and started climbing up and down wet gravel roads, I realized it was going to be slow going. I ride a lot of hills on my commutes, but my five to fifteen mile commutes are pretty short, the hills are short, and there's not time enough to get tired.
I got tired.
The levels and downhills were fun, though it was a little scary bombing down a wet gravel road on a bike I'd never ridden before. However, the constant climbs wore me out in a hurry. I firmly believe, though, that riding with stronger riders is the only way to keep myself honest and push a little harder than I might if I were by myself.
Both Munson and Miles were very gracious and kept the pace where I could hang on, albeit, back a bit, but fast enough to keep me honest. Miles had ridden a race yesterday and said he was on a recovery ride, anyway, so I'll claim that I was helping him hold the slower pace to keep from overdoing it. :)
I like lists, and I like lessons learned, so here's a list of new things learned on this ride:
- the street signs were misprinted. Instead of "Dutch Hall Road," they should have read "Dutch Hill Road"
- when a cyclist says "riding gravel", they really mean "riding hills." Munson explained that this is because the minimally improved country roads aren't graded the same way as city streets and highways. They follow the terrain.
- as much as it stinks to climb slowly, it's a nice sense of accomplishment when I get to the top of a long hill
- the Shimano 105 STI shifters are not too hard to get used to after a while, and actually seem pretty darn efficient
- I like the multiple hand positions available on the wide bar, especially with hands on or around the brake hoods
- lighter bikes really do go faster
- when riding gravel right behind someone on a mountain bike, prepare to get a lot of little rocks in the face. Though eating a little rock never killed anyone.
- wet gravel isn't as much fun as dry gravel
- wear gloves next time to help with hand fatigue and chaffing
- consider proper cycling shorts rather than simple exercise shorts, especially when I might get wet
- brought extra snacks to share
- brought extra shirt, which I was glad to have when it got cooler after the rain
- brought rain jacket, which I didn't need, but it's nice to have