The view from the the drops is beautiful. Sweet.
Before this bike I had a more traditional setup, the saddle was only a few inches above the top of the bars. I was plenty fast, around a 20 mph average but the Venge is better. A full 5-1/2″ drop from the nose to the bar top. That setup didn’t come cheap though… Admittedly I can’t see much in that position but I worked so hard on my flexibility to get there so I feel nothing but satisfaction when I ride, head down, in the drops. I rode once a week for an hour straight in the drops to get used the position. Then I lowered the stem and again, spent a lot of time in the drops until I got used to it. A couple of months later I lowered it again and continued my Wednesday ride as my designated “drop day”. Then one last time.
Training my body to like that setup was not easy and was anything but painless. There were quite a few times where I thought about raising the bar up a spacer. I never wrote about that. I kept it to myself, figuring nobody would want to read about the struggle and I didn’t want to give my indecisiveness any more weight than it deserved, which wasn’t much – but I suppose it makes sense to let that cat out of the bag. I’ve struggled mightily, from time to time, with staying dedicated to being the best cyclist I can be. Rather than give up I stuck with it, pushing the pain, doubt and negativity aside. I had a goal and dammit, I was going to ride flat – except if it meant injury and not riding at all.
I’ve worked hard on several aspects of cycling. Knowing my way around the components, how to service them and care for my bikes. How to pedal harder and more efficiently, how to climb… I worked on strategies for riding with my club and on developing some fantastic friendships with the guys I ride with. All of that pales in comparison to how hard I worked on getting flexible enough to ride low and I’ve only written two or three posts on the subject – out of more than 1600. The only thing I’ve worked harder on is getting fast, but that goes hand in hand with this.
The greatest benefit of riding low, out of the wind, is speed. Without that aerodynamic position I couldn’t possibly ride as fast and far as I do, at least without coughing up a lung or blowing up my ticker. Two months ago I thought I’d finally taken this pursuit a little too far when I dropped the stem the last time… My first two drop days hurt.
I stuck with it though. I didn’t give up, I kept pushing the length of time… I kept pressing my chin toward the stem cap. The third week was a breakthrough and by the fourth well on my way to being comfortable again.
I can spend as much time as I want in the drops now. Headwinds, crosswinds, taking my turn at the front or even after I’ve dropped to the back so I can virtually be pulled down the road by the group.
I didn’t listen to any of the naysayers who said only pros are flexible or young enough to ride like that. I set my sights, uh, low and went for it…
The view from the drops is sweet because I worked my ass off for it.