An auspicious year for this family of horses, 2014 was pretty nice. There were a few epiphanies, and a lot of riding. I’m sitting around resting a nagging medial knee issue that has kept me off the bike for the past week or so. I’ve been wanting to get out and do one last permanent to finish off the 2014 season, but better judgement is telling me to wait until the knee feels normal. I know from past experience that the best way to heal is to go easy for a while.
While I didn’t do much more mileage this year, it was still a full year of riding with 3,111 miles (just over 5000 kms) so far. Last year I did just over 3000 miles, as well. I did most of my brevets early, with the organized rides over at the end of March. That month was also my first 500-mile month. I rode my first solo permanent in April, and did some Moab mountain biking over spring break. July brought the Entmoot, and as usual, a lower amount of riding as I seem to slow down in the summer months.
I picked it back up in September, and peaked in November with a late season 200k permanent around Whidbey Island. I am loving this island’s smooth hilly roads, and have a few more brevets and just general rides planned for the future. My average speed has not budged in the past 3 years, so I may work on my fitness in the new year and see if I can’t bump that up with some interval training. I am still hedging on the longer rides (over 300k) – I’m just not sure if I would enjoy them. The Entmoot ride was an eye opener this year, and I feel like unorganized rambles have a special attraction with exploration and time for photos and camping with friends being great short vacations. The planning and anxiety around an organized brevet sometimes feels like work.
As for the mechanical side, I am slowly gaining more perspective and opinions on what works for me. I really like the Cycles Toussaint experiment with low trail and plump 650b tires. Tubeless has worked out well, too. I appreciate the extra cush on the rides, and less worry about flatting. I still enjoy the Hilsen’s ride with the 32mm Compass tires, too – they are almost as compliant with significantly less air volume.
I’ve come to feel that the 42cm Noodles are the right cockpit for me over the long distance. I continue to enjoy the Selle Anatomica saddles, and Sidi shoes. I am not bothered by having 7 or 8 speed cassettes, and index and friction both work, but on the longer rides, I appreciate the simplicity of indexing. I have bar-end shifters on the Toussaint, and downtube shifters on the Hilsen, and both are set up indexed at this point.
I really enjoy the centerpull brakes on both bikes, but the post-mounted Dia-Compes on the Toussaint have amazing modulation and easy setup. I appreciate the simplicity of the older brake style. I think a great project would be to have centerpull braze-ons added to the Hilsen, perhaps with a low-trail fork, S&S couplers, and Compass Mafac copies added. Hmmm – perhaps when it’s ready for a re-paint, I can convert her over to 650b as well? Probably a silly experiment better addressed by a custom.
If I were to have a custom built at this point, it would be a titanium or ultra-light steel tubed, low trail 650b all-purpose bike. I really feel like this is a do-all, go anywhere bike. The Rivs would remain my country and camping bikes, and the Toussaint would be backup brevet and city porteur bike. It would be great to have a lugged Weigle, MAP, or Pereira. Maybe a Bantam? Still dreaming of good rides ahead…