03 April 2011

Escaping Profligacy

One of the things that has been bothering me, in a ghosts-of-Scottish-ancestors sort of way, is that going out and getting the Experiment was expensive. So I've been somewhat grimly expecting to be paying the usual 10x for 10% worth of improvement at the top of a utility curve, at which point I would have to admit to myself that I was being Profligate. (Profligacy is not, precisely, a sin, but one couldn't possibly defend making a habit of it.)

Then March[1] elected to be full of snow, sleet, and similar gloptastic behaviors, and I managed to sprain my right ankle and tear my right calf muscle in a completely un-bicycle related way, so there was this decided pause between getting the Experiment and actually being able to go for a ride.

I got to end the pause this weekend; a 13.7 km loop to the LBS for a bell (the good councilors of the City of Toronto have seen fit to make not having a bell on your bike a ticket-able offence, and it's a substantial ticket) on Saturday and a 37 km loop down to Tommy Thompson to look for the adult male King Eider currently reported as recovering from being very, very lost in Cell 3 on Sunday.

So I knew the Experiment fit; that was obvious from the ride-round-the-parking-lot part of picking it up. That was, after all, pretty much the point; not having to worry about heel strikes on the panniers, and hopefully getting less fatigue out of the whole position-on-the-bike thing.

What I didn't know is that it would be easier to pedal; SRAM Apex is about one notch better as a drive train than the Shimano Tiagra on the town bike, but that shouldn't be worth 3 or 4 kph. (Probably more; I went floating through 30 kph on the flat during the early part of the Sunday AM ride, and I'm in no kind of shape. That would have been a distinct struggle on the town bike.) The Apex gearing, by the by, seems highly suitable to my riding style; I hope I still think that after another month or two, but for now it seems like a good decision.

I also didn't know I'd go 15 km without feeling like there was any need to change hand positions; some of that has to be the notably gooshy bar tape, but wow. That's a huge change from any previous bicycle I've had.

So, perhaps I haven't been profligate; this is seeming like a qualitative, rather than a quantitative, improvement.

I did see the King Eider, and a bunch of other ducks.  I ran into a surprising number of birders from the TOC in the process, too.

 I also discovered that the fairly light carbon tripod I use for the scope has undergone a certain degree of de-lamination in the centre column. This is probably due to pushing its load rating a bit with a large gimbal head and hefty scope, but it ought to have been well within the load rating. I'm not delighted about the tripod, but it does make me feel a lot less like an irrational twitchy person about going with a steel fork for the Experiment.  (I'm also pretty darn pleased I didn't make this discovery due to the scope, gimbal and all, falling off.)

And, hey, finally got in some actual bike riding.

Don't seem to be getting any complaints from the unhappy ankle, either.

[1] tonight's forecast, very likely true from looking out the window, is for between 10 and 20 mm of rain or wet snow or it can't quite make up its mind, followed by 5 to 10 mm of rain on Monday. [2] Sunday morning was lovely, though.

[2] various persons with basements aren't going to like this. it's possible various subway stations aren't going to like this.


Janice in GA said...

Delighted to hear the new bike feels good to ride. Going faster = also a plus.

So far, so good, right?

orc said...

There are a couple of things that keep the bike from being frivolous;

first, you're not going to get that sort of geometry from a stock frame, so you're stuck with a custom one,

and second, unless you're intending to spend several thousand miles and lots of shop time dialing in the fit, a good framebuilder will be able to get you most of the way to what you need.

And none of this stuff is particularly cheap. That's just the way it is.

Graydon said...

Janice --

So far, so very happy, really.

Even if I am going to have to Do Something about the interaction of the cross-top brake levers and the front bag mounts.

Orc --

Agreed on the lack of frivolity.

The thing -- I did not express this well -- that sets off the profligacy tick is that I made a major purchase and made no attempt to optimize cost whatsoever. The results are good, but there's a little voice in my head that's trying to assert I just got lucky and must not make a habit of not optimizing cost.

And, gods, geometry. Hugh Black sets seat heights with a tape measure. The result was a bike that fit, really fit. It was highly surreal when I picked it up and it's still somewhat surreal. (In another 500 km it will probably be normal. :)