I’ve been itching to ride the Venge ever since I changed the cockpit setup on the bike. I should have waited, probably another few weeks – Venge Day is usually in April – but after a couple of nights of rain over the weekend, I figured, “why not?”.
And so it was. Mostly sunny and 50 (that’s 10 C in Euros) with a gentle breeze out of who cares where (as it turned out, northwest). I excitedly prepped my sexy steed for service once again.
After months relegated to the Trek, I was finally going to see how the winter’s changes worked, to turn hypotheses into theories. Every spring, that first time I wheel the Venge out for duty I’m struck by just how skinny and slippery the bike looks after all that time on the Trek. I was more than a little giddy pumping up the tires again…
Venge Day. We had a potluck at our meeting last night (socially distanced and small, God save us and we’re deeply sorry for having fun in these trying and troubled times) so I rolled out early, aiming to pick my usual riding buddy up at his place after getting a dozen or so early miles in. The first three miles were cross-headwind and headwind and I was feeling quite wonderful. Surprisingly fast, actually. 18 to 19-mph into a decent breeze was quite easy, and that’s when I knew the changes to the Venge over the winter were going to be a homerun. I headed north and decided I’d give the first miles till I picked Chuck up a good run to burn off some of the day’s adrenaline. Headwind, 18-19, crosswind, 20-22 for two miles, and then the tailwind. The first tailwind section of the day started with a sharp left turn at a four-way stop. If there’s no traffic, the turn is fast and I was out of the saddle and on the gas hard. I though about giving my KOM a go but let that idea go. Not enough fitness or tailwind for a 30+ mph run this early in the season. Still, I settled in around 24-mph (38 km/h) and just rolled with that. I had three miles of tailwind before turning south and I made the most of them. Then two miles with a crosswind near 21-mph before turning back the way I came and all of a sudden I was looking at a 19-1/2-mph average, solo… on March 3rd. A mile into the headwind again and I was in Chuck’s subdivision. I rolled into his driveway with a 19.3 average for the first twelve miles. It’s going to be a good year.
Chuck and I rolled out shortly after I arrived, into the headwind again, and I stopped worrying about pace. We took mile-long turns up front and I took a few minutes to assess the feel of the bike with the 128 mm Montrose saddle while drafting Chuck. It never ceases to amaze me, after almost a decade on 143 mm saddles, how much I like that 128. Suffice it to say, I have a narrow ass. Everything on the bike was tight, solid and squeak/creak-free. No, no, no annoying noises. No clunks when the front brakes were applied, just a solid aero race bike.
As the sun started sinking on the horizon, the temperature cooled as well. At 19 miles out I said my goodbye’s and turned for home. Tailwind again, for two miles. I wasn’t hammering it, but I didn’t watch any grass growing, either. I settled into a moderate effort and took it to the barn, pulling into the driveway with a little better than 24 miles at 18.7-mph for the average. With a 13-mph breeze, there’s no way that should have been as easy as it was. I’m excited for the prospects this season. Winter training was much better than expected.
And so it was. Venge Day 2021. Earlier than usual, but justifiably so. And spectacular.