So I finally took the Novara out for a real ride!
(That’s not the permanent setup: I still need to get a front rack and panniers, and a smaller sleeping bag, and I’m not sure I like how that handlebar bag sits on this bike. It also needs different pedals plus my toe cages.)
Nine of us (including one gentleman on a tall bike!) met up and rode the 25 miles to Battleground Lake in Washington. The ride out was fun, and included a stop early on for a small glass of wine and some snacks at Niche in Vancouver, where we also picked up another rider. We did have a few jerks on the road, but whatever. The weather cooperated, and we set up camp and got a fire going and had plenty more wine and conversations and just generally had a good time.
It started raining in the night, though, and was still going the next morning. People split up and left at different times, and the way back was cold showers mixed with periods of warm sunshine. My rain jacket works okay, but I don’t have rain pants or booties, so my bottom half was soaked to the skin, and my shoes were like buckets of water for my feet to sit in. Thankfully it wasn’t really cold!
So, the Novara!
I love the new setup. My right bar-end shifter is indexed, and I find myself shifting the rear more often than I used to, with an easy “click.” It also slips right into the granny gear in front with no problems, even if I’m already going uphill and pushing, which is wonderful.
The handlebars: So far, I love them. I spent a lot of time moving my hands around to all the different possible positions, and I’m amazed at how the tiniest differences in hand position can feel very different. The process reminds me of when people learn to knit: the motions only come in a couple of variations, really; but everyone soon finds that their hands find, sort of on their own, the most comfortable way of doing the motions and holding the yarn. So it is with my hands on these bars, as I experiment with tiny shifts in hand position and posture. And oh man, it’s so easy to brake! Even from the hoods! Yes!
But the most amazing thing, and the biggest vote in favor of these handlebars, was after I got home. I was really tired and my legs were sore, but my shoulders were fine! I don’t think I’ve ever not had sore shoulders after 25 miles on a bicycle! This has me so happy, you can’t even imagine. Shoulder pain has been my off-and-on companion ever since I was a grocery store cashier for five years, ending in 2003. As much as I love touring, I’ve always ended up taking ibuprofen all day every day to help with the pain, which varied from “slightly stiff and sore” to “oh god, someone’s stabbing me between the shoulder blades.” I’ve made jokes about how maybe I should switch to a recumbent. I wondered if I should get a custom bicycle, or a professional fitting, or did I need physical therapy? Was bicycling long distances always going to hurt?
My shoulders and arms were tired when I got home, certainly, but they didn’t hurt!
Now that was only 50 miles in two days, and that’s definitely not the same as 80 miles in one day. But I feel a lot more confident about it now, especially as my arms and shoulders get stronger.
Lastly, I got a really sweet text on Saturday from the man who bought the Miyata: “Thanks again all good. Fixed brakes work perfectly. May keep it for myself. She has a good home and a bright future!” which just made me all kinds of happy.