Back in the Saddle Again – First Ride

Cycling became my adult athletic pursuit once my childhood days of team sports such as baseball, basketball and soccer were long gone.  It pretty much has been since I graduated college back in the early ’90s.  I’m what you call an enthusiast, or nowadays can be termed the “Gran Fondo” rider.  I’m not into racing simply because I don’t want to go down like a domino and break my collarbone in a criterium – I’ve got a wife, three kids and a business to run!  But I admire those who train to compete in amateur bike racing, especially those Masters guys who also have families and a career.  Probably like the majority of cyclists out there, I enjoy both the group ride and solo rides.  The midweek or weekend group ride is more social and forces you to step up your game, lest you get dropped.  Fear is a powerful motivator!  The solo training ride helps clear your head from stressful days.  Over the years, my riding consistency has waxed and waned depending on what was going on in my life.  Invariably something would come up, like the birth of a child, a move, a new job, etc. that took me away from my weekly riding routine.  Soon a few weeks would go by and I could feel all that hard-earned fitness slipping away.  And then weeks might turn into a few months.  Since my non-cycling spouse liked that fact I was around more to help around the house, I figured it was good that I took some time off.  But I would get restless, missing my fitness and time outside.  All the time, I knew that getting back on the bike and into a new routine was GOING TO HURT.

IMG_3003So it was that one of those life interrupters came along at the end of 2015 – this time a local move.  But add to that my volunteering as an assistant baseball coach for my son’s Little League team and my riding time went to nil.  Before I knew it, it was nearly halfway through the year and I had hardly ridden my bike.  Fast forward to mid-June and the baseball season was now over (Little League must be the longest and most time intensive of youth sports!) and we were for the most part in our new house.  So on June 21st, the second day of summer, I decided to get back in the saddle again.  Can’t you hear those Gene Autry song lyrics?  Or Aerosmith?  At lunch time, I hopped onto the shop’s demo Pinarello Dogma F8 – which just so happens to fit me 🙂 – and decided to dip my toe back in the water.  One of my favorite short rides from the shop is the Newport Back Bay Loop.  It’s scenic and fortunately, pretty flat.  No serious climbing for me as I ease my way back!  The first couple of miles and I’m thinking, “this feels pretty good.”  But as I jumped on the bike trail and headed towards the coast, a nice 10 mph headwind smacks me in the face and suddenly I see my average speed start to drop.  And now it was starting to hurt.  I tell myself not to get hung up on what the Garmin says and just go at a comfortable pace.  I’m not going to get back to my previous fitness overnight, it’s going to take some time and consistent riding.

I finished that ride feeling more tired than I wanted to admit but happy to have completed that first ride back – it’s more of a psychological barrier than anything.  It was much easier to go on my second and third ride that week having completed the first one.  Clearly my bike fitness has a ways to go, but it was nice to get the sensations of getting outside and spinning those legs again.   Going through this process is giving me the chance to utilize some of the services we promote regularly at ARB Cyclery – in other words, to become a customer of my own shop!  Having been off the bike for awhile, it’s definitely time for my bike fit to be re-evaluated.  Some changes could be made to help me ride a little more comfortably until I can improve on my fitness, strength and flexibility.  The subject of my next blog post in this series will be my visit to the SoCal Endurance Lab’s Senior Fit Specialist, Barrett Brauer.  After that, I’ll pay a visit to the SoCal EL’s Exercise Physiologist to find my current level of baseline fitness.  Stay tuned!

 

Why Enve?

Bicycle components are a very personal thing. Everyone develops their own taste and preferences. Some value form over function. Others don’t mind having mismatched parts as long as they are comfortable. I used to focus heavily on weight, and others are die-hard fans of a certain company.  I could never be satisfied in purchasing a stock bike. I needed to have a say in what components were going on my bike. Every bike I’ve owned after my first road bike has been custom built with carefully selected parts to match my aesthetic and functional preferences.

Many of us here at the shop have our bikes built up with Enve parts and wheels. If you take a look at our shop manager’s new custom Mosaic, you’ll see that it has been fully equipped with every part that Enve has to offer.

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There is a lot of name recognition around the brand. Their products are recognizable even with their new stealth logos (which I think are badass), but you may be asking us why we all choose Enve. It certainly looks clean and aggressive on a bike, but there are many more reasons beyond that that make Enve a top choice for many bike builds.

First of all, Enve wheels are designed and built right here in the USA. What that means to you as a consumer, is better quality control. Out of all the years our store manager has worked here, he never received a warranty issue regarding the brake track with Enve wheels. For a carbon wheel, that’s quite the accomplishment. And when the odd issue does pop up, Enve’s warranty department is pain-free to work with.

Enve is also constantly improving their product designs and coming up with innovative ideas. Take for example, one of my personal favorites, Enve’s built-in bar end plugs. They work seamlessly, and provide a clean finish to the ends of your bars. enve bar end plugIts little details like this, combined with a super comfortable bar shape that really pushes the product above other options. When you look at Enve’s wheels, they are undergoing constant revisions and improvements. The new brake tracks for one offer better braking than previous iterations and is something we except to see constant revision generation after generation. Enve’s new front and rear rims differ in depth and shape as well which was proved to improve handling and drag. Instead of drilling spoke holes in the rim, Enve molds those in to provide extra strength and durability. Not only that, but you can choose which hubs you want your wheels to be built with. DT Swiss? No problem. You want to match your hubs to your Chris King headset and bottom bracket? They can do that. Enve’s dedication to aesthetics also resulted in their own specific Garmin stem mount which looks super clean as it attaches directly to the stem face plate.

However, you won’t really be able to understand how great the wheels are unless you actually ride them. Luckily for you, we have Enve 3.4s in stock for you to demo! This way, you have the opportunity to experience and enjoy the wheels before you decide to commit. Personally, the next upgrade for my titanium ride will be upgrading my aluminum wheels to carbon ones, and I don’t have to look any further than these Enves. If you’ve seen the new carbon Enve hubs, you know how excited I am.

How does that saying go? “Once you go Enve you don’t go back”?
That sounds about right.

 

 

 

Titanium Bikes. They’re Something Special.

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There is a certain feeling of excitement that you get when you are searching for your next bike. But sometimes, you might not even know you’re on the search for a new bike. Imagine yourself, innocently scrolling through your Instagram or Facebook feed trying to find out what your friends have been up to. Then, out of nowhere, BOOM. You get hit in the face with the nicest looking bike you’ve ever laid your eyes on. You try and scroll past it and pretend that your heart rate hasn’t raised. Deep down, you already know it’s too late. One Google search, and before you realize it, you’ve spent the entire night watching YouTube reviews on the bike, hoping for some form of negative criticism that will steer you away from committing to the purchase. But secretly, you’re hoping to hear just how amazing it is.

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Foundry Chilkoot Ultegra

However, once you’ve actually decided that you’re ready to make that next purchase, that is when the excitement really starts to crank up. I went through this entire experience when it came to buying my Foundry. I remember seeing a picture of a super nice, custom, titanium road bike on social media and it blew me away. Coming from a carbon bike that I had purchased without enough knowledge about fit, sizing, and geometry, I vowed to do it correctly this time. My carbon bike was super light and looked pretty darn cool, but the harshness of the ride made riding any distance over 25 miles a real chore. For me, having ridden aluminum, carbon, and steel, I knew my next bike had to be titanium. I wasn’t quite in the market for a full blown custom bike, so I kept my eye open for a company that carried stock geometry frames. I’m pretty particular on how the bike looks, and I’ve always favored slightly larger diameter tubing. When I stumbled upon the Foundry Chilkoot, it was everything I was looking for. The frame came partially painted in a simple white which I love. As an added bonus, the Foundry logo is relatively small and low-key. For me, I just wanted something that would stand out from the usual crowd of bikes, but I wanted it to do that in a more subtle manner.

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Closeups of the Foundry

The company offered the bike as both a complete build with Ultegra 6800, or as a frameset. Because I wanted to compare how the titanium bike rode vs my carbon bike, I decided to go with the frameset so I could swap all the parts over. This way,  I had a more realistic comparison between the two frames’ riding characteristics. Being the aesthetic nut that I am, ordering the frameset only also allowed me to have white cable housing instead of stock black thanks to the Pro Build done here at ARB Cyclery.

While I kept the same SRAM groupset and wheels, I ended up making the switch to a full Enve cockpit to match the Enve fork that comes with the frame. Granted, this doesn’t make it a perfect comparison to my old bike, so keep that in mind. Watching the bike being built in the stand gave me the same feeling of excitement that I had when when I was a kid on Christmas Eve. The sense of giddiness you get on new bike day is unforgettable.

The first ride I had was amazing. I know there is a lot of marketing speak behind the handling characteristics of different frame materials. You hear things like “aluminum is harsh” and “titanium is whippy”. Whippy? That doesn’t mean anything to me. Based on my personal experiences of my bike, I can say that one characteristic of titanium frames is it’s dampening capabilities. I’ve ridden both bikes on the same stretch of road, and there is a noticeable difference in road feel between the two. On my carbon bike, I can feel the texture of the road much more than I can on my Foundry. Everything feels softer, and the little vibrations I could feel on my carbon bike were gone. My titanium bike is comfortable. I don’t put out enough power to comment much on power transfer or frame flex, but I certainly didn’t feel like there is a loss of power. As a long term bike, for me, this bike is perfect. Its comfort really stands out on rides longer than 25 miles, and I don’t have to worry about things like corrosion or about cracking my frame in the event of a crash. Riding a titanium really is something special. It is special in the way it rides, and it is special because it is different from most of the bikes out on the roads.

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Our store manager’s custom Mosaic being built!

Now, for those of you who are truly looking to get a one-of-a-kind bike, you can go with the custom route and get a bike made just for you. No more trying to match a frame to your needs. Instead, your needs dictate the frame that you will get. ARB Cyclery is proud to announce that we are now a Mosaic Cycles dealer! Mosaic offers fully custom bikes tailored to the bike that suits your need! Paired with bike fitting that we provide here at the shop, you’ll end up with a titanium beast that was designed just for you. Receiving your Mosaic will certainly have you feeling like you once did on Christmas Eve. If one thing is for sure, it’s that a titanium bike is worth buying.