Friday, June 13, 2014

at last...I'm Feeling Pretty Good on Gravel

Well, it's time for an update so you don't all think I'm still crying while riding a gravel road somewhere like in my last post. Things are going much better with my gravel riding now. Here's why.

Last Saturday I took my Vaya to Milltown Cycles where I purchased it about a year ago. I called ahead to make sure either Todd or Curtis would have time to help me get my bike fitting better. Todd said he'd be around all day. So, late in the day Owen and I stopped on by and I explained what's been going on. I told Todd:

  • I'm really heavy in my hands and feet but not sitting much in the saddle at all
  • I feel very unstable when riding gravel like the bike is almost skipping all over the road if I hit a rock, certainly unstable on loose gravel
  • I have trouble with wrist pain when I'm riding
  • when I try to shift my weight back in the saddle, I'm way off the back of my saddle and my knee hurts to boot 
We decided to put my Vaya in the trainer so Todd could see me pedaling and how I actually am sitting when I'm riding (a trainer is a contraption in which you fasten your bike's rear wheel so the wheel runs on a little roller system and you are able to pedal in place and "ride" indoors).

Right away Todd was able to see that my position on the bike was causing my discomfort. He raised up my handlebars a bit. I pedaled some more to check to see if raising the handlebars helped. It did. Raising them took some pressure off of my hands and shifted my weight back into the saddle so I was more on my sits bones.

I told Todd that based on how I sit on my other bikes I still felt I should have more weight on my sits bones. Todd then looked at my saddle position and raised the nose on my saddle a bit so the saddle was more level. I pedaled my Vaya on the trainer again. Yep, that felt much better.

Todd asked about my tire pressure. I've been riding my 26-1.75 tires with 45 psi in the front and 50 psi in the rear. Todd suggested that for gravel I could ride with less air and that would help me feel more stable.

With plans to ride the Vaya on actual roads and not just the trainer ASAP, I loaded up my Vaya in my van, thanked Todd for his help, and headed home.

Guess what? I let some air out of my tires the next morning and headed out for a ride. Owen joined me on his Mukluk and we rode about 9 miles. I felt oh so much better on my Vaya! So much better. I could feel that my weight was more in the saddle and less on my hands. I felt more stable and less like I was going to crash every time I hit a rock. We had some loose gravel to deal with on the ride but also had a lot of very nice, hard gravel. Overall the ride on my newly adjusted Vaya was a great success!! 

I rode the Vaya again the next day then the next few days were extraordinarily busy for me but I finally had time for another gravel ride this morning. Owen and I mapped out a 16 mile route and headed out. I felt pretty comfortable on the Vaya, found some great gravel on the route and really enjoyed myself. It's possible that I'll still tweak things down the road after the RiotGRRRavel race (it's just a week away - aaarrrggghh!) but, for now, things are fitting well enough to press on. So I will.

You know, a week ago I wouldn't have believed that I could have had such a great gravel ride - but today's ride was really wonderful. It was what I always dreamed gravel rides are supposed to be like: pleasant temperatures, charming company (thanks for riding with me, Owen), almost no traffic, nice roads, great scenery, a bike that feels pretty comfortable to ride - ah, it was nice. Very nice. 

Yep...at last...I'm feeling pretty good on gravel!

Thanks, Todd, for your help. Thanks Joe, Christopher, David, Marty, Kate and anonymous blog commenter, for your support and advice.

It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, Thanks, Owen, for riding with me (even when I'm crying), for listening to me and for being with me every step (perhaps that should be pedal stroke?) of the way.



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