I share a birthday with Aldous Huxley, who happens to have penned one of my favorite all-time books, Brave New World. I don’t remember if I learned this before or
after I read that book, but it’s always stuck with me. We also share July 26 with Mick Jagger, but I digress.
In Brave New World, Huxley writes that the characters, and populace in general, take a pill – a drug – called Soma which is meant, basically, to melt away the
tensions of the world and make everything all better.
That’s kinda how riding my new baby makes me feel.
While I have loved and been loved by my Specialized Cross Trail, it was finally time to add to the bike stable.
Meet the newest steed in the stable: Pele
Pele is a Soma Double Cross Disc, slick back and metal as fuck. I love her.
The bike is super responsive, and fast, and light. I feel really strong with the slight climbing that I’ve done, like the bike is part of me, working with me instead of wrestling against my efforts. And the best, sexiest part of all is how fast I feel when I’m hammering away on those cranks. Wind rushing past, quads firing, time stopping. Wowie. Love.
It’s just how I wanted it to feel.
How did we meet?
I had some parameters for the bike: disc brakes, upgraded shifters,, price, fit, quality that would last for years. I wanted a bike that could be used for touring, but when unloaded would show off my strength and feel speedy racing around the city.
After trying the Salsa Vaya, the Kona Sutra and the Surley Crosscheck in my size, I realized that full-sized 700c wheels despite the small frame and upgraded shifters were important to me, and thanks to a great deal from Block Bikes PDX, all those things ended up within in my budget.
Yep. This gal was the winner.
I went ahead and ordered it without actually getting to ride on a frame in my size, though I was able to stand over the same frame that was one size larger. Pictured below is a gold Double Cross Disc that is owned by a friend of the shop who brought it in so I could check it out. I made an educated guess based on that and trying a lot of other bikes in similar sizes. I figured if I got the frame size close enough, we should be able to dial in the fit with fine tuned adjustments on the saddle height and position, as well as changing out the handlebar stem or seat post if necessary.
A few weeks ago I met Natalie Ramsland for a bike fit at Gladys Bikes here in Portland, and it turns out, changing the handlebar stem was necessary to improve my comfort. That has more to do with my physicality than bike size, per se. I was way more upright on my previous bike, so I’m still getting used to riding in such an aggressive position, but getting in and out of the drops was immediately way easier than I had anticipated.
It is surprising, though how much more I’m valuing core
strength here. It’s the kind of thing you read about, and know on paper, but to feel how those musclesact as a bridge to keep your spine safe is pretty cool. Tiring, but cool.
I’ve had Pele for about 8 weeks now, and in addition to daily rides to the main street/business/shopping district of our neighborhood, I’ve had a few other rides including the Sauvie Island loop, riding out to Boring on the Springwater Corridor, then back to North Portland via the I205 multiuse path and Marine Drive, and short but climby jaunt from where we were camping to CapeLookout State Park at the Oregon Coast.
As you can see, it’s already been a whole bunch of fun.
Also, I’ve been on more than a few rides back and forth to Gladys Bikes in the Alberta Arts District as I’m participating in their saddle library, an awesome concept designed to help you get a seat that will fit your bum and bits. More on that later.
So, at this point, there are still some needs for outfitting the new bike before we’re ready to roll. Namely a rear rack, and a decision on what I’m going to do on the front of the bike. I’m thinking of frames for front panniers, and potentially a basket or some kind of porteur rack for the front. The frame I have on my Specialized will fit on the new bike if I want to move it, but there’s something about that that seems so.. cold.
Maybe I’m just resisting the inevitability of weighing her down.
Anywhoo. I’m pretty excited about co-creating rides with Pele and I’m super psyched for all the potential that this new ride opens up for me. Maybe I’ll be able to get to the coast in one day this year? That would be an achievement.
I can’t wait for this next season to roll around. I have got a few things up my sleeve.