By Christopher Cudworth
At the time I purchased a real road bike nearly 10 years ago, bicycle frames had gone under a revolution in thinking that changed how most people even looked at the machines we use to get around, race and have fun.
Instead of the rigid fixed triangles that used to define bicycles, frame engineers compressed and bent frame parts into sexy shapes that returned more power, absorbed more shock and prevented your nuts or other body parts from suffering damage on the downhills.
As a terminally poor mechanical type, these inventions impressed and challenged my perceptions of what bikes were all about. The 10-speed Columbia bike I’d purchased after college was so heavy it nearly dented the road. Same with the Schwinn Paramount my wife had owned. Those have all long since been exported from our household.
Our cycling experience is inextricably tied to the types of bikes we ride. That means the bikes are forming us even as we choose to form them. We dream them into place and then fit ourselves onto those frames with tweaks and twitches. Then we ride as hard as we can go. Sometimes we forget how we got there.
So our adaptations need to change with time. I had a bike fitting done a couple years ago and thought that was a radical change to take. Now I’m thinking, “Not so much.”
It’s time to go back to square one with the bike fit. It’s time to think a bit more radically about it all if I truly want to keep enjoying the sport.
For all the riding I’ve done, and some racing too, I’ve never, ever felt truly one with the bike. Not in the sense that I am perfectly comfortable and getting back 100% of the energy invested in the bike. That’s what I want. That’s what I’m going to strive for this coming year.
When my shoulders tire from a poor bike position it takes away the focus and the attentiveness of the ride. There have also been more than a few moments when I recognize the efficiency of other riders and don’t feel that trait in myself.
All this dawned on me while riding that fat tire bike a couple weekends ago. The wheels have to figuratively come off at times to truly see the bike for what it is. A tool, not just a plaything. But also, never forget that the bike is also a tool of play.
So let’s make it that way. Tear it down to build it back up. The mountain bike calls for winter riding, and then we’ll see you in the spring on a reconfigured road bike. Whatever that means.