Back in the Saddle Again

I hadn’t ridden my Jamis Coda Comp hybrid bike more than about three times over the last cycling season, and there it was, still just hanging on the garage wall.  It’s a powerful, fast bike with a 52 tooth chainring, and the combination of steel frame and carbon forks make it very comfortable.  The 28mm tires give it stability and more comfort, too.

So what is the problem with this bike?  For one thing, it’s one of five, and my default go-to bike is the Trek 2.1.  But there’s more to the story.  About a year and a half ago I set up the Comp hybrid to be my winter indoor bike.  In the process, I decided I’d put on my clipless pedals to see if I could get used to them.  I’ve always felt more secure with toe clips, but that has to be just a matter of getting familiar with a different feel; after all, a vast majority of serious riders use the clipless system.

All winter during 2010-2011 I got used to the pedals, and when spring came I vowed to keep trying them out on the road until I got the right feel.  I actually tried them just about three times, though, and never got to the point of being comfortable with putting clipless pedals on the Trek.  The Coda simply languished, as I delayed removing the pedals and rode my other bikes instead.  I figured that this last winter I’d start over and really get used to them for once and for all.

But the winter of 2011-2012 was the warmest on record.  The trail was never inaccessible for more than a day or two.  So I never set up my winter trainer at all; I never got back to trying to accommodate to clipless pedals.

This spring a long-standing detour onto a bridle trail (see previous post) has revivified my interest in riding my hybrid bikes.  Lower tire pressure (6 vs. 7 atmospheres) and wider contact point (28 vs. 23 mm), not to mention the presence of tread, make traction on sand and gravel a little easier (though I saw a rider fall off a fat-tire mountain bike on the detour a couple of days ago).  And for distance riding, a bike of the speed and quality of the Coda has some serious appeal.

So a few days ago I got out the work stand and pedal wrench, took off the Look pedals, and put the toe-clip jobs back on.  I oiled the chain and the cables, adjusted the rear brake, lowered the seat about ¾” to match the distance between pedal and seat of the other bikes, and pumped up the absolutely airless tires.  Then I took it out on the trail and remembered why I liked this bike.  It’s elegant, has a great gear range, rides well, and “feels” fast.  It handled the bridle trail with ease.  It climbed hills more easily than I remembered.  I also remembered that my rear end has to get used to its gel saddle again, and that there is only one hand position on a straight-bar bike.  And it still needs a good washing.  But as Gene Autry used to sing, “I’m back in the saddle again.”

©Arnold J. Bradford, 2012.

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