For the last two weeks I have had one illness or another. First it was a sore throat that became a sinus issue, with the usual malaise that implies, then it was (eeew) pink-eye. I rode a bicycle twice in the whole two weeks, an eight-mile round trip to buy yarn and a short jaunt to an art thing.

In the last few days I have started feeling restless. I was staying home as much as possible because my eye was gross-looking (blood-shot and swollen), and because pink-eye is so contagious, but I mostly felt fine.

Out of boredom I’ve been looking at bicycles online, reading about frame geometry, and re-reading old posts on Lovely Bicycle. I think I’ve mostly succeeded in further confusing myself. There are just so many factors to deal with in terms of how a bicycle fits and how it handles vs. what kind of riding you want to do. People who’ve been thinking about these things for decades have completely different opinions, and speak them as though they were facts. And I’ve ridden only a handful of bicycles, none of them high-end, and so I’m not even sure I’d notice the difference between one bike and another. Would I be able to feel how flexible one frame is compared to another? What does “responsive” even really mean?

I might end up trying to measure the trail of my Raleigh and my Novara. I do wonder if it explains some of the difference in their handling, especially on turns. Then again, maybe it’s just the difference in my posture and/or the handlebar setup. Or something else entirely. See what I mean? This stuff is bewildering.

Don’t even get me started on the differences between randonneuring and touring bicycles. Or all the variations in drop bars.

On the positive side, I think it’s possible I’ve found my dream touring bicycle: the Terry Valkyrie. I know there’s some debate about whether women need women-specific bicycles, but I know I personally fit the stereotype they’re going for–longer legs, shorter arms and torso, an unwillingness to feel “stretched out,” etc. The Terry Valkyrie has a lovely short top tube! That is so exciting to me! It’s the shortest I’ve seen on an off-the-rack bicycle, even if this bike isn’t really “off-the-rack.” If you know of an off-the-rack women-specific touring bicycle–especially one less than the Terry’s $3,500–please let me know!

Tomorrow, though….tomorrow I get to actually get on my bicycle and go somewhere! There’s an overnight trip with Cycle Wildto cabins at Battleground Lake. It’s an easy 23 miles that I’ve done several times before. I cannot wait to be on the road with friends, especially knowing there’s a cabin at the end, in lovely surroundings. I almost wish the ride out was longer, but after two weeks of almost no biking, I should probably go easy on myself.

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9 Responses to Restlessness

  1. Leo Ackley says:


    I have been following your exploits all summer. Great going! Sorry for not commenting more. Have been on my own tours, and then work this fall and winter

    And have a great time tomorrow.

    But I wish to speak to you. Could you contact me by e-mail.

    Leo in Finland

  2. Ron says:

    Hi April

    When folks talk about ‘top tube length’, that is really only an approximation of the real issue – which is ‘saddle to handlebar length’. After all, it isn’t your top tube or steerer post/tube that you hang on to.

    Aside from frame dimensions, your Raleigh has a very short stem reach – barely an inch or so.
    Your Randonee is short too, but not as short. Likewise the handlebars on the two bikes are quite different. Look at where your hand are on both bikes in relation to the steerer tube, and also at their relative height. And again, where they are in relation to your saddles. There you have the sum total of all of the differences in frames, stems, saddles, and heights/adjustments of all of those.

    If you want to try an inexpensive experiment, get yourself a used adjustable stem (one with the ‘top loading’ handlebar fitting (like on your Randonee) and play with various heights and angle adjustments. Should let you try stem extensions from perhaps 4 inches to essentially zero.

    See and record how they feel. May take a couple of dozen or more variations, but you might just end up at a setting that feels right for you without needing to buy a whole new bike. If you still don’t feel right, try moving your seat forward or back a bit.

    Pondering on relative trail at this point may not be of much value. And the feel of two bikes when turning can be influenced by many other factors beyond those that you listed. Includes tire width, profile, weight, inflation, headset issues, and a bunch of others.

    Of course there are probably many Terry bikes of one sort or another around Portland. Maybe someone would loan you one to see if Nirvana for you can be found on one.

    Ron Richings
    Vancouver, BC

  3. Sarah says:

    I can’t help but sympathize with your absence from cycling. It’s so addicting. Wishing you a safe and super fun ride!

  4. Hi! Rose City Yarn Crawl coming up soon — would you be interested in getting a small group together and doing a yarn crawl by bike on one of the weekend days?

  5. Melissatheragamuffin says:

    April! Are you okay? I miss you when you don’t blog.

  6. cat-6 says:

    mark my words: now that velouria has discovered lycra its only a matter of time before she experiences the sublime joy of carbon fiber.

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