First race last night with the Via Nirone 7. I'm pretty sure we had a full field (although it didn't look like hardly anyone was going to be there even half-way through the women's/junior's race).
The big question on everyone's mind, of course, is "Alan! Now that you have an actual road bike, did you win?"
The answer to that question, which should come as no surprise, is "No."
I did finish in 15th, two spots up from the last time I raced. Was it because I was riding on a bike that weighs a few pounds less than the Portland (I haven't taken the time to do an actual comparison to see what the actual weight difference is)? Maybe there were other people who were tired last night, or maybe there were more new people. Who knows.
Regardless, in terms of my own individual performance, I was really happy with the result. I went in not feeling all that great, and I left my water bottle at home while I was getting the car packed and ready to go (and the vending machine at the Oval was broken).
I think I led one lap, and I was pretty close to the front of the group (maybe 5th or 6th) for a decent chunk of the latter part of the race. On the last lap, as usual, everyone started sprinting and I got passed by what seemed to be a ton of people (although apparently it was really only eight or nine, not including the people who were ahead of me already). That's still an area where I need to improve.
No big deal, though.
So yeah, I decided to buy a road bike. I thought I'd be getting an '09 Specialized Allez Elite Compact, but Pro Bikes was all out of my size (or at least, they were out of 52cms, which I thought was my size, based on the Portland being a 52cm) and wouldn't be able to get any more in stock. Same for the Cannondale CAAD9s.
I figured I'd just wait for the 2010 CAAD9s to come in, based on Jake's recommendation. Heather and I stopped in on Sunday because I wanted to make sure that we had the sizing all figured out in the event that I'd have to special order one.
As I said, the Portland is a 52cm, but when I bought it, we decided on the 52 because I was having it converted to a flat bar bike (which was later converted back to drop bars). If I had to order a new road bike, I didn't want it to be too big.
They brought up a Cannondale Six in a 52cm and it was pretty apparent that it was too big. Then they brought out the 50cm Bianchi and told me to go take a ride around the block.
The difference between the Bianchi and the Portland was pretty immediate. It felt so much lighter and quicker. That's not to take anything away from the Portland. It's a fantastic bike and it's never let me down.
The Bianchi felt great, though. Compared to either the Specialzed or the CAAD9 that I was considering, the Bianchi had a better set of components, a better wheelset, and unlike the CAAD9s, it has carbon seatstays.
I think the only thing that the 2010 CAAD9s might have on the Bianchi is the BB30 bottom bracket, but for the maximum amount of power that I'll ever be able to generate, I'm sure that I'll be able to live without it.
Now I have three bikes. I should probably really try to stick with those three for a good long time now. I think I can realistically say I should be able to do that:
- Bianchi Via Nirone 7 for racing, training, and everyday riding in good weather.
- Trek Portland for cyclocross, longer rides (centuries and things of that nature), ridiculous hills (dirty dozen), riding in crappy weather (thank you, full fenders), and hauling some things around (thank you, rear rack).
- Commençal Combi S for off-road/mountain biking. Honestly, I've considered using the Combi for the dirty dozen. It would seem like a 22t granny would be great for some of those hills, but on the other hand, I'd probably flip backward actually trying to get up the hills. It's something to consider, I guess.
I think that covers most situations where I'd need a bike. I don't see myself doing time trials or triathlons. Yet.
To be honest, I can't say that I won't take the Bianchi out for longer rides, becuase I haven't had a chance to take it for any ride longer than 15 miles or so, so I don't know how it'll feel to ride it for hours at a time.
I think the reason I'd favor the Portland in those cases is just that it's so much easier to load it up with lots of stuff that I might need if I'm getting farther away from home and/or civilization.
One thing I can definitely see myself doing is replacing the saddle on the Bianchi. I have a Bontrager Inform on my Portland, and I'm really happy with it. The Bianchi came with a Selle San Marco Ponza, and even after a few shorter rides, I feel like I can tell the difference. It might just be best to make the switch now and try to hawk the Ponza on eBay.