Maiden Voyage.

This past Saturday I was on spring break from class and had the weekend off from work.  The weather forecast was sunny and in the low 70’s.  It was looking like the perfect day for a bike ride.  A buddy of mine, Jason Secrest, was coming into town so we made plans to go for a 30 mile ride.  I thought it would be an epic time to take the “tank” out for its maiden voyage.  I have to give Scott Mull at Bohemian Cycle Works in Shelby, NC a shout out for finishing the things that I could not do and fine tuning everything on the bike.

The “tank” is a steel Surly Cross Check frame equipped with mostly Shimano 105 components, Ritchey stem and seatpost, Brooks saddle, mavic wheels, and Axiom racks and panniers.  You can check out some pictures of the tank on flickr here.

The ride started out great!  I quickly found out that riding a steel bike with racks and panniers takes much more effort than a nice lightweight carbon/aluminum bike that is tailored for aerodynamics.  We planned to ride a 30 mile loop in the vicinity of Harrisburg, NC that I ride frequently.  It is mostly country roads with rolling hills and little traffic.  You can look at the map and elevation profile here.

About half way in we were enjoying the crisp wind and the warmth of the sun but I started to notice a wobble in my left pedal.  I stopped to inspect it and figured that it had just come loose but I was not able to fully tighten it to wear all of the threads were enclosed in the crank arm.  My conclusion was I had bent it.  So we continued on.  The bike felt good.  I made the occasional stop every couple miles to adjust my saddle trying to find the perfect position and which would be the most comfortable.  I want to make sure it feels good if I am going to be riding 80 miles a day!

After the first ride I have made a couple conclusions. First, is that I am going to go with a slightly shorter stem (this connects the steerer tube to the handlebars) so that I am a bit more relaxed in my positioning.  Second, I am going to go with a larger tooth ratio on my cassette (the gears on the rear wheel) so that hills will be easier.  Third, I am going to switch to mountain bike pedals instead of road pedals.  This will allow me to wear a much more comfortable shoe throughout the day and allow me to only take one pair of shoes instead of two, thus cutting down the weight of my load.

The big problem that I discovered when I got home was that I did not bend my pedal but actually stripped the threads of the crank arm (the metal part your pedal screws into).  So currently the tank is out of commission until I can order a new crank arm.

Overall it was a great first ride.  I discovered a lot and feel pretty good about the bike and its setup.  Looking forward to riding it more soon!

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