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The Ride: First Thoughts

May 20, 2011

This is what the Build was for. While I expect it might also become my primary tootle-around-town and get-to-work bike (replacing my mountain bike), the main purpose was to build a bike for my daughter and me. We gave it a try today for the first time (on her third birthday, no less!).

I owe another post about the highs and lows that went into the build, but having spent the past few days riding around on the bike, it seemed as though some comment on that was more pressing (and hopefully a more positive story). In short, it might be the novelty of the thing, but I’m really pleased. The ride is smooth and I’m loving the single gear.

First ride—note the world champion rainbow stripes on her Dora the Explorer helmet cover. Birthday present; she was very pleased with this, and spent the afternoon wearing just the cover as a shower cap...

I am, by nature, lazy. On road bike and mountain bike, while I can crush a pretty big gear and cover ground efficiently in a decent cadence, I tend to drop gears a little too quickly. Legs tired? Drop down a gear. Breathing heavily? There’s room on the cassette to drop it down a notch. Riding to work the other day, I found myself enjoying the steady, single gear. There are no hills, really, between home and work, but I typically do shift through three or four gears to handle a few rollers along the way. No such luxury on the single speed, and the climbs weren’t really so bad. I’ll have to see what they’re like with my little one—and that added weight—on the back, but the ride is good. Also, too: very comfortable saddle.

My littlest (on the right in the shot above—I’m the bigger fellow in black on the left) and her seat add about 20kg to my regular riding weight. It’s a good thing I’ve lost 7-8kg since the New Year, but it’s a very different kind of weight, concentrated so heavily off the back of the bike. While my daughter is pretty good at sitting still, I was surprised at just how much sway and tilt there was and I had to keep reminding myself to put more weight on the handlebars to better balance the bike. We were fine while riding; slowing down to negotiate the gateways on the rail trail—crossing roads—prompted a couple of scary moments, but nothing that more practice won’t overcome.

There’s also this monstrosity on the back of the bike. Whoever designed it wasn’t think about weight savings. And the color scheme leaves a little to be desired (for the adult aesthetic). It’s saving grace, however—and this is a biggie—is that it affords me some of the best company on a bike.

There’s a very good argument to be made for posting only small and out-of-focus pics of the bike. The discerning eye will cringe at aesthetic flaws and mechanical faux-pas. My lone defense is that while I ride good, I build poorly. Or have had less practice with this. I’ll go into more detail on building poorly and the amusing mistakes shortly. In the meantime, the kids have to get to swimming lessons tomorrow morning; I expect we’ll ride. And a picnic on Sunday afternoon. I expect we’ll ride. Looks like a good weekend in store…

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