Since earlier this year, I have been riding my mountain bike into work off and on. It started out being really hard, and got easier, but my commute home is up Queen Anne Hill which is notoriously super-steep. To put it in perspective, it takes about 5 minutes to get to work, and about 35 to get home.
A while ago, a friend of mine who rides to and from work with me decided to move up to a real road bike. She started on an older steel bike that was super heavy, and had a lot of problems with it. She ended up moving to a Specialized Ruby which she loves.
I told myself at that time that I wasn’t interested in riding a road bike because it seemed way too professional, and too serious. I just wanted to ride to and from work to save gas and get exercise. But I quickly found that I couldn’t get up and down the hill as fast as my friend, and it seemed like it was really holding me back. I went and got fitted, switched to cleats, and did a bunch of other stuff, but nothing really made that much difference.
Finally, after some research, I bought a Specialized Tarmac. It was a really nice bike, but it was too small for me, which I found out when I went back to get fitted! So, after a lot of trial and error, and realizing the Tarmac wasn’t available in that size anywhere around, I moved to a Specialized Roubaix.
I’ve only had it a little over 2 weeks, but already I have ridden farther and faster than I ever have before! Last weekend I rode about 52 miles in two days! And all on Vashon Island with serious elevation changes! Here’s one of my rides from last weekend – 21 miles and 3400 ft elevation change.
The bike is so much more comfortable, and I really enjoy riding it. I will never be a racer – I really don’t like sports like that. I don’t think I will ride longer than 50 miles in a day because of some previous back problems that I believe would get unhappy if I did. I do like riding with my friend – she is far more committed and interested in the sport for so much. I am glad she enjoys it!
The differences between the Tarmac and Roubaix were quite amazing. On similar rides, the Tarmac would go far faster, especially downhills. I had to brake constantly not to get out of control, and run into my friend. Constantly. It was really unnerving. The Tarmac also had really sensitive steering, which as I understand has to do with the stem angle.
The Roubaix is still fast, but it doesn’t feel like I am on an out-of-control piece of carbon fiber. It’s also more comfortable for longer rides, and way nicer to steer.
I’m really happy, and I hope I will continue to ride consistently to work, even in the rainy months. It’s a great way to exercise and save gas, and just fun to do.