We’re on the way home after a gloriously long vacation. I started on a wrap up post on Wednesday and I’ll finish writing that tomorrow morning and post it before a nice Sunday morning ride with Mrs. BDJ.
In the meantime, I thought I’d take a moment to comment on how my ’99 Trek 5200T handled the mountains of Northern Georgia and North Carolina… And how I handled them – the air being quite a bit thinner half a mile up.
First, I’ll never (EVAH!!!) complain about having a triple crankset again – especially as an introductory means of getting a bike up a mountain. While my daily ride was only 12 miles in Georgia, I doubled that when we got to North Carolina. The hills in NC were fewer, but much longer (3-1/2 miles as opposed to 1/4 mile in GA) and therefore a lot tougher to climb. I absolutely needed the granny gear, though as the week went by my legs responded quickly and given a couple of more weeks in the mountains, I could definitely see myself not needing it except in the harshest of conditions. That said, I’m infinitely glad I’ve got it.
The old Trek handled the climbs excellently (though I can’t say the same for the Cannondale SR400 – the 52/42 double and largest cassette gear of 23T was too much and really limited the extent to which Mrs. BDJ could explore with me in NC). The Trek second generation carbon frame was plenty stiff enough to get the leg power to the crank. Where the bike, even with aluminum rims, really excelled though, was on the descents. Where it was stiff enough for the ride up, it was superb on the way down the mountain. With top speeds over 45 mph, I was amazed at how smooth the bike was. At our place in Georgia, the descents were sharp but staccato – I didn’t have enough space to get above 35 before hitting a switchback – not so on Wayah And Junaluska roads in North Carolina. I only felt uncomfortable with the speed once – the day after I put 2 and 2 together to realize that I was going fast enough to turn me into a poster boy for road rash cream and neck braces should I go down – on the plus side I was breaking the speed limit, so I didn’t have to worry about getting rear ended for at least six or seven miles of my daily ride. Also, the traffic on those two roads was very mild by the standards I’m used to.
In the end, I my affinity for my Trek was doubly reinforced on this vacation – I absolutely love that bike. The Cannondale, on the other hand, was a bit of a disappointment… Until we upgrade my wife’s bike I’m going to work out a cheat to switch her stock flatland cassette with a mountain bike cassette for our mountain trips… If they can do that for Wiggins’ bike, I should be able to do it for my wife.