I finally got to take the Allez out for a spin — albeit, a highly conservative spin.
This morning, I got up at six (by choice!), then PT Guy and I rode down to the hospital that's just around the corner from his house and did a couple of laps around the parking lot.
Total ride time was maybe half an hour at a slow pace, and I was actually totally cool with that (okay, the vast and mostly-empty volunteer parking lot seemed to be begging for a sprint, but I resisted). My knee is definitely still healing — there was a little climb (the kind I normally wouldn't actually even call a 'climb') coming back home, and I felt it — and that gave me an excuse to take my time getting comfortable with the way the new bike handles.
So: thoughts on the Allez...
Wow. Quick, sharp, and responsive. Accelerates like a rocket. Also, yes, those skinny little tires really do stick to the road, just like everyone says they will. This bike will turn on a dime and give you change. After the first couple of turns, I felt entirely comfortable riding through corners without braking ... which is good, because there's something marginally embarassing about riding around on your shiny new road bike and braking through corners that you're taking at roughly .4 MPH.
Moreover, the bike wants to go. I've certainly seen mention of that kind of thing when other folks write about their road bikes, but hadn't really experienced it myself until now. The Allez is all about the 'go.' Release the brakes on a little downhill, and suddenly you're moving. Quickly.
If Swift is like a good, reliable field hunter — quiet, mannerly, medium-fast, and made to go all day — the Allez is rather more like a racehorse. The Allez wants to run.
This bike is almost disturbingly quiet. Coming up the long side of the volunteer lot, I pulled up next to PT Guy, who glanced over and said, "Wow, I can't even hear your bike." I couldn't, either. Even the freewheel is pretty quiet.
Likewise, shifting and braking are smooth as glass. Some of this is good components, but I'm also sure a good piece of the puzzle is workmanship. The folks who tuned up the bike and got it ready for me did a great job.
I didn't have much occasion to use my gears, since we were riding on the flat — but when I did shift, I found the downtube levers surprisingly intuitive. I was figuring I'd be groping around to find them; instead, I just reached down, and there they were. No problem.
I kept it on the small ring (39t) to go easy on my leg, and was surprised at the amount of pickup in 39 x somewhere-in-the-middle-of-the-cogs. My inner roadie cackles with glee at the thought.
I need to dial it in a bit. Specifically, the saddle is set way forward, and could stand to slide back a little. I might play around with the seatpost height a bit, but I think I've got that about right. The stem length and height seem pretty good — definitely a big change from the fairly upright riding position Swift puts forward but, then, the Allez is a very different bike intended for a very different purpose.
I'm guessing the previous owner of the Allez was pretty small — the bars are quite narrow. That's fine for me; on the tops, I find myself riding with my elbows in; on the hoods and in the drops, the line from shoulder to hand feels about perfect.
The last time I rode a road bike, I found the reach too long, and for a long time I thought that was simply the way road bikes rolled these days. I'm glad I was wrong (though, come to think of it, that bike may have been newer than my Allez)!
I was surprised how comfortable I felt on the Allez. I was expecting the position to feel more awkward and unnatural (and, perhaps a little strangely, I was expecting to feel fat riding around on that skinny little bike). In fact, once I got used to the location of the brake levers, I felt quite comfortable.
PT Guy and I will be doing little rides in the morning until I'm back in shape, so I'm looking forward to throwing a leg over the Allez again. I might ride Swift tomorrow — I'm also looking forward to experiencing his new, non-bockety axel.
Having gleaned a better sense of the character of my sweet new steed, I'm pondering a few different naming options.
In other news, plans for the near future include volunteering at the Louisville Short Track MTB race tonight (if it doesn't get rained out) with Rogue Racing Project.
And installing some water bottle cages, which I guess I should first purchase.