A newbie’s first road bike (guest post)

Ramon H.

Ramon H.

Bike Noob reader Ramon H. recently decided to make the move from an old mountain bike to a new road bike. Ramon, who lives in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas, has been emailing me back and forth about the new purchase, and after a slight delay to wait for the right color, he took delivery on a Trek 1.2. I asked Ramon to describe the experience of adapting to a road bike.

My wife bought a bicycle on ebay. I made as many adjustments as I could. Naturally, I had tried adjusting the brakes, but the true of the wheels was way off on both wheels. There was no amount of adjusting that could be done that could rectify the situation. I did not want to bother adjusting for the true, so off to the local bike shop we were.

Once we were there, I decided to try getting on a road bike and trying it for posture. I had been to the shop a couple of weeks ago and had asked them to try a 50cm frame, but that day they did not have any available. I already had done some preliminary research and had heard excellent things about the Trek 1.2, being especially an excellent entry level road bike. I asked them if they had any frames available and they had a 50cm, a 52cm and a 54cm. I actually got in the 50cm and they let me take it for a spin around the parking lot. It was a perfect match. I tried the 52cm, but it was not a good fit. After several adjustments and several measurements to get a better idea of my true fit, I decided (with the OK from the wife) that I would buy the bike.

I did ask them if they carried another color since this one was white and red and they said they did not know. I also bought a frame pump, cage holders, tire liners, and a seat bag which they kindly installed before I took it home. Unfortunately, as soon as I got home, I went online to the Trek site and noticed that Trek sells the same model in blue (blue is my favorite color). So we called the shop back to see if we could bring it back to) get the blue one instead. The guy we dealt with said to bring it back on Monday (he needed to get the OK from his manager and he was gone already). He said that he should be able to make the exchange and that they should be able to special order the blue one.

I picked up my road bike on Friday from the LBS pretty late in the day, so I did not get to ride that day. I decided that I would go to a dedicated bike trail for the bike’s “maiden voyage” about half hour from where I live. Once on the trail, I became accustomed to the shifting, the posture and the dropped handlebars. I also did not wanted to bother with traffic and road debris. I was able to put in a relaxed 10 miles and was able to get the bike up to a max speed of 22.6 mph. I noticed an increase of 3-6 mph over my regular speed. I also noticed that I was a lot less tired than when using the mountain bike.

This morning, I decided to head out for a 15-miler on bike lanes around town. I caught a lot of headwind, but even with that decided to do an additional 5 miles; I ended up with about 22 miles altogether. During one of the segments of the ride, I caught some tailwind. I decided to get down on the dropped handlebars and took off like a scalded dog: 25.4mph max speed (yea baby). It was exhilarating and scary at the same time. I also noticed that the bike became much less stable and that BOTH hands (no fiddling with the odometer or waving at other cyclists) are required once you drop on the handlebars as you are holding on for dear life :lol:.

The only down side to the 20+ mile ride were: lots of road debris, I actually got off the bike at least 3 times to toss nails off the bike lanes; and the stock saddle did a number on my derriere. It was not that bad, but I did have to get off the saddle (and bike) every couple of miles after the 10+ mile mark. I was a little bit sore after the ride, but I can see that it would get quite annoying to have to get off the bike when doing a group ride.

I did further research on the whole wearing chamois or padded shorts and I just cannot get used to the idea of wearing it. I actually gag thinking about wearing wet chamois after a long ride *gag*. So after checking some entries under your blog and many other cycling sites, I will bite the bullet and order a Brooks B17 standard saddle. I am encouraged by the many posts talking that chamois/padding is optional once the saddle is broken-in. I will also take advantage of the stores’ (Wallingford Bikes) 6-month return policy in case I run into issues with it. I need to get on the breaking-in period rather quick since I will be signing up for a local 25-mile bike tour a month from now. I will let you know how the Brooks saddle behaves.

It’s my guess that a lot of Bike Noob readers have had similar experiences as Ramon. When to switch from mountain bikes to something else? Should I go all the way to a road bike, or get some kind of hybrid? What about those crazy bike clothes? And those clipless pedals? Welcome to the road, Ramon. You might be interested to note that Bicycling Magazine names the Trek 1.2 as one of the best bikes under $1,000.

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8 thoughts on “A newbie’s first road bike (guest post)

  1. Ramon – welcome to road biking! As for the Brooks…they’re great saddles once you get them broken in. I would HIGHLY recommend wearing some padded shorts for the first 300 miles or so as the break in process can be a little painful. After a couple hundred miles the saddle will conform nicely but it’s a little rough at first.

  2. Welcome Ramon to the skinny tire crowd. Great research and nice bike choice. Nothing like 25 mph in the drops. Hope you have a great time on the bike. Bike Noob needs to get you “hooked” on BikeJournal. Tht’s when you start having to “feed the beast”.
    Best of Luck !
    TrainingFromABarkalounger

  3. I received the Brooks saddle last night and promptly installed it on the road bike. I decided to test it by taking a quick 1-mile ride around the block. The Brooks saddle felt more comfortable than the stock saddle right out of the box. I applied proofide underneath and on top and left it overnight. I don’t have any plans to use any special compounds for the break-in process, only proofide and lots of riding. I am planning to take a 15-mile ride this afternoon, or a 20-mile ride tomorrow morning. We’ll see how that goes.

  4. Congrats on the new bike! The 1.2 seems like a good choice. I hope you like the Brooks saddle, it should definitely help.

    I don’t know how much riding you’ve done in the past, but the sore butt problem generally gets to be less of an issue as you ride more. If you still have issues, you really should look into padded shorts — if you are uncomfortable with the way they look, you might want to look at baggier, mountain bike-style shorts, or wear something over the bike shorts. I sometimes wear think nylon shorts over my bike shorts, and this works fine.

    If anything, you would probably feel drier in bike shorts, since they are made of wicking materials that pull the sweat away from your body. “Normal” clothes, especially if they’re cotton, just retain sweat.

    I look forward to hearing about your progress.

  5. I went on the 15-miler that afternoon. I had plenty of time to worry about road debris, the inhumane cross wind, and a couple of over-protective canines. One thing I was not worrying about: the saddle. It seems I am doing quite well with the Brooks saddle, and this is without any padding, just regular shorts. I am planning to do a 20-miler this weekend to continue the break-in process.

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