New Wheels

23 11 2009

OK, so I bought a new bike today. Have done a lot of reading on the net and thinking realistically about where I’m at with my riding, I decided that I really need a proper road bike if I am going to see any significant improvement in my times. Yes yes, I know it isn’t just about times but about fitness and weight loss, but there is nothing wrong with having decent gear at the same time.

So, I’m now riding this: A 2009 Apollo Giro-C.

Why did I pick this bike over others? Rather than one LBS, I have three, all pretty good, but each with a limited range. For my price bracket (sub $2k), there were only two carbon frame bikes available. The Giro C and the Malvern Star Oppy C5. With the year end discount, the Oppy came in at $1999.20, a measly 20c more than the Giro. The colours are much the same – Black with White (Giro-C) or White with Black (C5). Both bikes have the Shimano 105 drivetrain. Essentially, the bikes are identical – sure there are minor differences, probably big ones to an expert, but to a novice, they are minor things.

In the end it came down to one thing – brand. Both brands are Australian and designed and developed here, but the Malvern Star is now owned by Pacific Brands, a company I choose to avoid, much like Nike and others and that is good enough for me.

I added a couple of accessories to the bike – front and rear lights, a Sigma 106L cadence computer, two bidons and a bento bag. Since the bike, came with Shimano R540 Clipless pedals, I needed some proper bike shoes, and so I picked up a pair of Shimano SH-R105 Shoes with full carbon fibre soles for peak power transfer.

The man at the LBS explained a couple things to me.

1. Never put a bike stand on a road bike. Why not? It’s seems to be a much better idea than buying a rack to keep it in.

2. Whilst getting used to clipless shoes, expect to take the occassional tumble on dismount. Most shoe newbies have a tendency to incorrectly detach from the pedal and thus have a spill, often ending up on their side under the bike, with one shoe still attached and the other hanging free. Touch wood, I haven’t had this problem yet. For me, the dismount seems easy – it’s the mount that is tricky. I seem to spend an unusually long time getting one foot to click in – and then the other goes in just fine. I was told it was just like clicking into snow skis, but that’s a load of bull. It’s nothing like it. On skis, you push your toe forward and heel down, and it’s simple. On a bike, you pull your toe backwards and then down. Much harder, especially when the pedals are trying to spin away.

3. Take some time to get used to the bike. Everything is different, and there is an adjustment period. I guess that if I had gone from one road bike to another, it would be quite similar, but from a hybrid that hasn’t been changed since it came out of the shelf (except a slight seat height adjustment) to a road bike, things can be very different.

The first thing that I noticed is that the handlebars are lower than on the hybrid (compared to the seat height) precipitating a more bent (or less upright) riding position. This resulted in what was a very unusual and uncomfortable riding position which has taken a few rides to get used to. Interestingly, I notice that even a week later, I still tend to ride in the higher position, that is with my hands on the top bar, rather than the drop bar (unless I’m pushing hard).

The other thing that I found interesting is that, for the first couple of rides (especially the ride home from the bike shop), my adductor muscles ached. I suspect this is from having my feet locked into a position they weren’t entirely used to. This only lasted a couple of rides.

Other than all of that, it is just a matter of practice practice practice, and getting the kms up and the times (and weight) down.

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