Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Greased lightning this morning

It was about 6:10 when I stepped out the door and 6:12 by the time I'd locked the door and gotten my gloves on. The thermometer on my Incite 11i indicated 55 degrees. Since it was chilly, I just rode to the bus stop in my work clothes. Dockers (tucked into my socks in true Fred form), a long-sleeve rugby shirt and my snazzy new Airwalks. The Outlook has clipless pedals, but I leave the test platforms on, and they work well. I can click in for long or fast rides, or just flick the pedal with my toe and plant some plain old shoes on the platforms so I can hit the road and just enjoy the ride.

With less than 8 minutes to get to the bus, I had to move. Fast. I dragged the bike down the stairwell. The rear wheel bounced off of the steps a few times and just from the feel, I could tell my tires were a bit low. By a quick squeeze test, I determined that it was okay to ride as-is, and I took off like a bat out of hell. It's a little over 2 miles to the mall. With as cool as it was, I could push pretty hard without sweating. I gave it about 85% effort to start off with, and cut back to about 75% once I finished slogging the first half of the Quivira viaduct over I-35. 75% feels like it's about my aerobic threshold. In raw wattage, it may not actually be 75% of my maximum output, but it's my usual sustainable power output level - the amount of effort I usually put into a full round-trip commute, and a little more than I'd put into a longer ride. As it turns out, this was just enough effort to keep me warm but not enough to make me sweat while riding. I beat the bus to the bus stop by less than a minute. Whew!

The Outlook has some features unique to other bikes I own. The flip-flop pedals are great. The geometry is a bit more heads-up. I sit more "on top of" the Sorrento - Great for climbing and working rough terrain. The Outlook places me a bit closer to the top tube and a bit more upright with the higher handlebars. I'm still bent over enough to be efficient, but it's a more comfortable and stable cockpit. The slick tires are smooth, comfy, and quiet, even when a bit low on pressure like they were this morning. They're almost mean on smooth pavement. Remember, even on a full commute my Outlook runs about the same average speed as my Trek 1200. The 1200's advantages over the Outlook are many: seating comfort, having a proper rack for panniers, handling stability, multiple hand positions, and higher potential top speed among them. The Outlook remains a very formidable machine in my arsenal, though.

I finished up my morning commute by hopping off the bus, hitting the streets of downtown KCMO with Lorin, and stopping for a discussion of music, literature and television over a hot Mocha before darting up 11th street and taking a shortcut through a decaying parking garage to get to work.

Random Tunage:
DJ Arne LII & Mirko Milano - Freak in me
Baby Anne - I wanna rock

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