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09/21/07
Homeric Adventures
Filed under: rides, photos, bike tech
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:36 pm

It’s dusty now, waiting for tomorrow’s ride. And I’m still thinking about last week’s loop. A. Homer Hilsen did pretty much everything I’d hoped and then a bit more.  That photo up above was from  just about the high point of last week’s ride - transitioning from Bobcat to Marincello fire road above Mill Valley in the Marin Headlands. I think this bike has a lot more to teach me.

Back when I used to spend too much money on albums, some theorizing was bound to enuse. Some records sounded good from the first time you played them,  and others were a little more tangential - teasing a bit, but not revealing everything upon the first listening. Many times, the good-outta-the-sleeve stuff wouldn’t really retain my interest - maybe I got it because of a single song (back when you couldn’t just download this week’s hit) and that was really all the artist had to say, and the intensity of the specific response waned with time. The good stuff that stuck with you always had more layers, more depth, and asked only for deeper attention.

It’s probably bending the metaphor a bit, but that’s more or less where I see the Hilsen.

At this point, there’s only one data point - the first real ride last weekend. A bit after I’d posted about picking the bike up, JimG had emailed, hoping to get a glimpse of it, and we firmed up plans to join up with Carlos for an easy mixed terrain ramble. On Saturday morning, I wrangled the dogs, filled water bottles and set off towards the Golden Gate Bridge. I arrived a few minutes late, and hung out with the ever-punctual Carlos for a while, catching up a bit as we hadn’t ridden together for too long. JimG rolled up soon afterwards, politely ooohing and ahhing and snapping a few closeup photos.

We headed up Conzulman, found our way to the trails and dropped down toward the old rifle range. I was a little tentative here and there as I felt out the bike’s handling on looser topography. No problems. In fact, it almost felt a little too stable - coaxing me to let it really run.  I held back though, no point in getting in over my head on the first downhill.

Regrouping at the bottom, the trail edged upward and I had the most curious experience - being able to talk while climbing.  Indeed, just having other people around me as the incline increased was different.  As observed elsewhere, single speed or fixed-gear climbing tends to force its own momentum upon you, and much of the time, you end up honoring that to the exclusion of those riding with you - you end up either faster or slower. On the Hilsen, I could move the barend shifters and quicker than you could say “Jack Brown”, there was an appropriate gear at my disposal which kept me among the trio. 

Although, that wasn’t entirely pain free either.  I’ve spent a few hours riding fixed-gear, and the range of ratios now available to me didn’t quite match up with my muscle memory or prep.  Pushing a big gear had become a new experience, as new as the seated and spinning technique on hills. Actually ended up a bit sore from it.  But, I do think that’ll fix itself a bit as I get used to the whole gear choice bidness. By the end of the ride, I was actually making solid and immediate shifts on the Silver levers. 

The balance of the bike was pretty amazing.  It felt really familiar and seemed to gobble up the miles quite happily.  It didn’t care whether the route was on dirt, trail or road. I guess I could go on about all of that, but it just handled really well. And I expect it to reveal more on repeated listenings.

We hung out more than normal and spent a bit of time talking here and there, as none of us seemed intent on getting anywhere too terribly quickly. I finally realized that it was approaching the time I’d said I’d return, and so peeled off and headed homeward.

There are more miles to cover, certainly, but this was a great way to start. 

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