Rush Limbaugh has his . . . well, here is mine. This is my record of news stories and issues that interest me. You can also find more headlines at the site where I serve as editor: The Common Voice.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Force - (cold + wind) = 00:13:07

I mentioned yesterday that I upgraded my Tarmac Pro to the Force group set and Kyserium SL wheels. The first test "ride" was on a trainer and even there it was a joy to make my way up and down the gearing. "Snap!" and you're there. However, I wanted to know what it would be like on the open road.

I rushed out of the house after getting off work and decided to do the long way around route of Paris Mountain. Yes, any test would have to include Altamont! The bike was set. I was set. It was time to go.

When I left, the temperature was 39 degrees. The wind was gusting between 17 and 20 mph. If I had been smart, I would have worn my 32 degree gloves. Unfortunately, I dressed warmly for every part but my hands. We'll come back to that...

Heading up my neighborhood street I already was in love with the wheels. No noise - just smooth rolling. The crank was also nice and solid. I could feel the lost weight. Honest. The bike went from 18 pounds to 16 and I could feel the lack of every ounce as I turned onto East North Street.

I won't spend a lot of time on this, but let me tell you. I had headwind from the time I turned onto that street until I reached the base of the mountain off of Old Buncombe Road. It was brutal. I averaged 15.5 mph over that 10 mile stretch. On a bad day without wind, I'll do that in 17 to 18 mph.

However, it was the mountain I was aiming for. Would the new components really make a difference on the climb? The bike certainly was a joy to ride -- even into the wind -- on the rolling roads up to that point.

I pulled into the road and pressed the lap button on my Garmin. It was so nice to climb without hearing any popping sounds. The only thing it was taking me time to get used to was looking down and not seeing any cables between my drops. The horns were also shaped and positioned differently.

Shifting both up and down came naturally after a very short time. The SRAM shifters give you a much more solid feel with the breaks because they don't move. The shifting paddle can also be pulled toward you so that you can shift your hand positions on the horns and still keep a finger on the shifter. Nice.

One quick push on the shifter and the chain would move in one direction. A sustained push caused the chain to move the opposite. Before I reached the top, I wasn't event thinking about it.

Again, the drive chain was solid. I don't really have anything to write about it because it just worked. There was no chain suck. The shifts were crisp and the chain moved seamlessly from one gear to the other. Oh, and they look nice too :-)

However, when it came to climbing, it was the wheels that really made the difference. I was gliding up the mountain. The ride was solid but at the same time smooth. Obviously, I was moving less mass and the bearings made moving what mass there was a very efficient process.

I made it up the first half of the climb in 6 minutes. I could have done it even faster, but I wanted to save myself as much as possible. As soon as I passed the marker, I shifted down and tried to pull myself together for the rest of the climb.

Sure enough, halfway up the second section I started fading... as usual. However, instead of going to an easier gear and spinning up, I shifted to a smaller rear ring and stood. This actually helped me find a rhythm that brought my heart rate down.

Before I knew it, I was getting ready to turn onto the wall. Once again I stood and pushed as best I could. At several points I was going over 10 mph. I fluctuated between 6 and 11 mph. Not good though as it took me over 2 minutes right there.

Still, I was happy to look down and see I had made the climb in the wind and cold (it was now freezing temperatures at the top of the mountain). It was time to start home. Before I got off the mountain, I was wondering if I would make it!

My fingers hurt so bad! I'm not too much of a wimp, but I'll tell you. I was almost crying my fingers hurt so much. The cold wind sliced right through my gloves and before long I couldn't feel the wind. I just felt like I had ice cubes for fingers.

It took me several minutes after getting home to start feeling things again. You know how it is, as your fingers start to warm, they actually start hurting more. Next time, I'm wearing better gloves!

So, what do I think? I love it. I can't wait to try the climb again when it is warmer and I don't feel like a kite being blown in the wind.

Now, if I can just get used to not seeing those cables...



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