Here’s a brief excerpt from my first 20+ mile ride around Manhattan on my new Trek 520.
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It took a few days to wait out the bad weather but I finally got out and rode the new steed. Before doing anything though, I had to make my first custom tweak. I immediately ripped off the standard Trek seat and replaced it with a beautiful Brooks b17 Special green saddle. This was my Christmas present from my Mom that I’ve been holding on to for months now just waiting to try out. I was initially skeptical of how good the green seat would look on the root beer paint but my fears were quickly put to rest as soon as I put the two side by side. The “Special” tag that Brooks gives to this line means that not only is the leather colored green but, more importantly, all the metal is a bright, shiny copper. When I got it mounted, that copped just pops right out and really compliments the bike. Awesome.
So, on to the ride. I had to run a couple errands in the city so that meant a quick ride through Greenpoint and Williamsburg, over the Williamsburg bridge, and over to the West Village. Once there, I stopped by Industria Superstudio to say hello and the obligatory “check out my new ride!” Oooohh! Ahhh! Other errands complete, I hoped over to the west side highway bike path and rolled down around Battery Park and the ferry terminals, on back up the east side and back over the billy-burg bridge. Not exactly a killer training ride but for a maiden voyage, you really can’t beat any ride that showcases the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, the World Trade Center site, or all the other great New York landmarks.
So, initial reactions:
- Even though the Trek looks a lot like my Specialized Allez that I’ve been riding for a number or years, the geometry is completely different. This is going to take some getting used to. It’s definitely not as quick and agile but it does have twice the stopping power.
- Maybe it’s the weight issue but it also feels like it’s working a very different set of muscles that are not really used to this pedaling thing just yet.
- I definitely need to tighten some bolts down now that I’m home. It’s very annoying having to stop every 5 minutes to realign the steering. Also, need to keep adjusting the saddle till I get it right.
- Speaking of saddles, that’s definitely going to take some getting used to. I’ve got some Proofide on the way but I think its going to take a lot more than that to break it in. Also, it’s much harder to ride no-hands while in this saddle. That is an essential skill I need to work on.
- Bar end shifters are supposed to be the best for touring in terms of reliability and all that jazz, and they look cool, but they seem to get in the way a lot. When I ride in the city, especially on a brand new bike, there is a lot of stop and go. This means I’m out of the saddle a lot and much closer to the handlebars so I keep hitting the shifters. I’m really banking on conventional wisdom and trying to be happy with them because I really do miss my STI shifters.
- I haven’t decided on what kind of footwear I want to take with me yet but I definitely miss my toe cages. The bike came with platform/SPD clipless pedals but I just don’t see those staying on the bike all that long.
- Big tires are great for big bumps and they roll just as fast once you get them going.
Overall, I’m very happy and excited to finally get riding. Most of the adjustments so far are with myself and not the bike so those are all easy fixes (hopefully). I’m hoping this weather holds up so I can start racking up the miles and get that seat into shape.
Next goal: 20+ miles
I finally made my biggest decision/purchase towards my goal of cycling across the United States. I bought my bike! It’s a brand new 2009 Trek 520 painted Metallic Root Beer. I’m so stoked. I debated for a long time between the Surly Long Haul Trucker and the Trek. Both are very well reviewed and respected in the bike touring world; the Trek being the perennial cult classic and the Surly being the latest and greatest. In comparison, though, they are almost exactly the same bike at very similar price points with only minor component differences. So how the hell was I supposed to decide?! Turns out, it ended up being a lot easier than I thought; I got a deal on Trek. My good friend, Chad Marn, a total bike nut and aspiring tourer himself, works at a bike shop out in San Diego and completely hooked my up. Even with shipping to NYC, he was still able to save me over $400 on my new baby.