Saturday, June 26, 2010

It's not the bike, it's the...

My best-ever pace on my workout loop on the Kestrel is an average speed of 16.8 mph over the 24-odd miles. The loop starts at my house, and runs through downtown Southborough, following Rt 30 into Westborough center, then picking up 135 at the rotary. Then a right onto Spring Street takes me around the back side of Whitehall State Park, after which I get back onto 135 until downtown Hopkinton. Route 85 offers a screaming descent (nearly 50, if I push) north out of Hopkinton center, and takes me back to the village of Cordaville in Southborough, where I pick up back roads to get back to my house. It's a decent loop. Not too busy, though some of the roads aren't great and there are a couple of dicey intersections. I'd describe the terrain largely as rolling, though there are two hills that aren't much fun without a solid base of conditioning to draw from.

Today I averaged 16.7 on the Motobecane, over that same loop, which is for all intents and purposes smack-dab the same pace. Just by way of comparison:

  • They wear the same computer, and both were calibrated to their tires' measured circumference
  • They both wear 172.5 cranksets with very similar gearing (39/52 and 39/53)
  • They both have 13-26 clusters, though the Kestrel spreads that across eight cogs and the Motobecane makes do with six
  • Both wear 700c wheelsets, though the Kestrel has 23mm Vittoria Rubino Pros, while the Motobecane wears Panaracer Paselas in a 28mm width
  • The Kestrel is probably 3-4 pounds lighter, but my scale says I swing 1-2 pounds either way, any given day, and neither is what I'd call heavy (my Schwinn -- now that's a heavy bike)
  • Both are now well-tuned, with no brake drag, wheels that spin well, well-lubed chains and derailleur pulleys and the like

All things considered, the Kestrel probably should be a little faster, because it's lighter and generally leaner. And if I kept a rigorous log, I might find the difference in what I can get out of each bike to be more than that .1 mph I measured in the past week or so. But really we're talking about rounding errors, here, and I'm guessing that weather/wind and luck with traffic signals are probably as significant to my pace as which of the two bikes I plucked from the ceiling that day.

In any case, I was plenty fast this morning, and the old mongrel felt solid, vibrant and responsive under my hands and feet. Different than the carbon-fiber Kestrel, of course, but not worse. The nearly identical pace between the two bikes is great illustration of that old adage, I think. And a great reason not to obsess about having the latest and greatest equipment.

In that spirit, and to try to spread the cycling bug a little wider, I've decided I'm not going to eBay the Shogun right now, after all. I just got it back from my brother-in-law, and I'm going to give it a quick once-over to get it ready for regular use, again. A friend is thinking about a triathlon, so I offered to lend him the bike that got me back into cycling. If he likes it, he can decide whether to spring for something fancier or stick with a classic lugged-steel racing bike. Based on my experience with the Motobecane, I know for certain the Shogun won't hold him back, any.

All for now,


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