Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fresh Legs/Fresh Brains/Fresh Frame

Over the last several weeks I've ridden fairly aggressively.  Aggressively, to me, means following uphill attacks on our small group rides and challenging for top of the hill sprints.  As opposed to not doing that, which usually means, "there they go... I am not going after them."  This can happen for a variety of reasons ranging from not having good legs ("Ugh, I can't."), to not having motivation ("Ugh, I won't"), or doing a steady, aerobic ride in which a sprint or an attack has no place ("Ugh, not today").  And, of course, not sprinting means not losing a sprint, conveniently providing an excuse to feel morally superior ("I am a disciplined rider").  Any ride that does not include sprinting or other hard efforts can be an LSD ride, so the "not today" excuse is always available.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, when a ride goes well that means I have good legs and when it goes badly it's the bike's fault.  Recently, I bought a well used ~1998 Colnago Monotitan frame on eBay for about a quarter of its original price.  The paint scheme (Colnago's Art Decor) was loud and gaudy and in bad shape, with many chips and scratches.  Nice thing about titanium frames is they don't rust, so this damage was purely cosmetic.  I had the paint stripped and had plain yellow decals applied, so now it looks titanium gray with yellow decals (simple and tasteful and I don't have a picture).

Though aesthetics are important they have no bearing on the bike's ride.  I thought it would ride well, but had no idea what to expect.  In fact, my expectations matched the cost of the frame -- fairly low, but I was willing to be surprised.  Boy, was I surprised!  Holy crap, the bike is nimble, steering a bit quicker than my Spectrum (my benchmark reference), flexy and comfortable in the back, but somehow also a wee stiffer than the Spectrum (shorter chainstays?).  It has an unexplainable "magic carpet ride" feeling.  It puts a smile on my face.  I look forward to my next ride because I get to ride this bike.  It encourages me to climb standing, something I never did often or particularly well.  Now, I can stand comfortably for minutes at a time.  I climb as well seated as on any other bike.  It sings on flats and zooms on descents. 

An added quirk is that this frame was made in Russia.  Apparently, Colnago subcontracted its titanium frames to Russia in the 1990s.  When I first read that in a web discussion forum, my heart fell, as I am well acquainted with Russian quality control ("Mamma mia! An Italian frame made in Russia!").  Then I read a subsequent post that said that Russian welders who worked on Colnagos also built MIG fighter jets and were among the best titanium welders ever to work on bike frames.  I felt better.  I concluded that the bike's ride and the fact that the frame has been in use for 12 years without any structural problems speak well of workmanship of this frame's builder.

For better and/or worse, this bike has removed the "bad bike" excuse for poor rides.  Happily, in about 350 miles of riding I have not had a "bad bike" ride on it.  I don't think it's the bike so much as a confluence of a very nice bike, good legs, and enthusiasm for riding the very nice bike.  I am enjoying the heck out of this bike.  And, as a result, I am contesting sprints, following attacks, and even leading attacks, standing and big-ringing it up climbs on Moraga Road from downtown Lafayette toward Rheem Valley and up Redwood Road toward Skyline.  No excuses, just going for it.  It hurts, but I am riding strongly and riding strongly makes the pain worthwhile.  When the brain feels good, so do the legs. 

The next challenge is to curb my enthusiasm on Knoxville Double this Saturday...  Tune in next week.


1 comment:

statcxr said...

Nice to learn a little history of your new frame. I like its new look much better. I must ride better with that gaudy scheme gone.