No, I’m not going to drop a true ode to my bike… maybe a sonnet…
I tried to downplay the awesomeness of the new wheels I bought for my Specialized Venge. Surely, they can’t be that much of an improvement! My old alloy wheels were put through a lot and they’re still pretty fantastic. Then, my original set of Ican carbon wheels were (and still are, on the Trek) stellar… Truly, after all that masterful piece of carbon fiber and epoxy and I have been through, it can’t have gotten that much better over time, could it?
It most certainly has. Vastly superior wheels, astoundingly more wonderful crankset, better gears, upgraded drivetrain and shifters, better brakes… they’ve all contributed to a ride quality so stellar, it’s hard to believe how much fun it is to throw my leg over the top tube and clip in. Sure, all of those people saying, “Don’t worry, you don’t need all of that stuff” was cool, it made me feel like I had a fighting chance, but in the end, I can do things I could never do before I put the goods on the bike.
We rolled out last night with a whole lot of new blood. Guys from the C Group giving us a try, a few new guys, and even the wife of one of the regular B’s on her brand new Bianchi decided to give it a try. It was a little sketchy at times, but it remained calm and collected up front until one of the new guys, pushing way too easy a gear (maybe a 120-130 cadence), decided he couldn’t keep up so he tried to come off the front through the middle of the double pace-line. I saw it coming three bikes back of him. It goes to the excellent professionalism of our riders that someone didn’t get taken out, but we navigated around him without incident. I let him know that we most certainly don’t do that as he dropped back (later, after the ride, I took the time to explain pace-line do’s and don’ts in great detail).
The pace was a little subdued starting out last night, and that was surprising. With only a slight breeze and reasonable temps, I was expecting it to be fast right out of the gate. Instead, other than a few instances where the speed spiked, we kept it between 22 & 24-mph. After the hills, we were passed by two A guys and we let them go. A few minutes later, a good chunk of the A Group passed us and we did latch on to them – and the pace got fun. The pace bumped up to 24 to 28-mph. We crossed the line in a big bunch, smiles all around.
So here’s my schpiel (or spiel, depending – I’m particularly fond of the “ch” version) one more time… I am, without question, faster on the Venge as it is now, contrasted against when I brought it home. Some of my fastest rides, however, are on a non-aero Trek 5200 (though it does have 38 mm wheels finally). In other words, and on one hand, it’s definitely the engine that matters most. On the other, all of that aero makes fast easier.
On the Venge last night, with an average of 22.7-mph over 28 miles, I never dropped more than five riders back in a pack of 20 in a double pace-line (10 each side). I was always up in the rotation, pushing hard – often driving the pace. I was never, at any point, close to my red line (with one exception; when I jumped two places in line and drove the pace up from 25 to 31-mph on a flat section leading into a sprint – I drove the pace). On the Trek, with a pace like that I have to be a little more judicious with my effort. I can still play cat and mouse a little, but I have to be careful. In other words, speed, on the Venge, is easier. And that, in a host of reasons, is why I’m grateful for my Venge.
That bike is fast, baby… and those Ican F&L 50’s are freaking spectacular.