Well. This post has been about a month in the making, and seeing as I have other things I want to talk about coming up (like the fact that I’m about to have a birthday!) I thought I’d finally write a little about the shiny new addition to my life.
So, WAY back in May (approximately a decade ago), I saw a Cannondale Synapse Ultegra SE 2019 go on sale at REI. When I first moved to Boulder in fall 2019 I had thought about buying a new road bike, and a women’s version of the 2018 Cannondale Synapse was high on my list. Just as COVID was hitting in early March, I seriously test rode that bike and a Liv Advanced Pro a few times. They were my top two choices. In fact, I nearly bought the Liv the day Paul got his new bike in mid-March. But a few days later we went into lockdown and I never followed up.
Fast forward to May, and randomly I saw the Cannondale on the REI site. It had nearly everything I wanted in road bike. The two big differences were that it (1) wasn’t women’s specific and (2) its max tire clearance was 32, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted my tires to be able to go up to (I was trying to blend a road and gravel bike as best I could). But, given REI’s return policy I grabbed it.
And then… I did nothing with it. I did my half Everest ride. I did a century ride. I did my full Everest ride. And still, the bike sat in the garage. Why? Mostly because I needed a bike fitting. It was too big and I knew I at least needed the stem changed out. Annnnd, because a tiny part of me really wanted to do the Everest ride on my Novara. To see it through on that bike.
But finally, in September, I felt comfortable enough to hit up my LBS and have them do a 1:1 fitting (before the store opened, with masks, with the door open). They swapped the stem, adjusted the seat, and made a few other tweaks.
And then, I took it for its maiden voyage up a local hill in the 50 min I had before a work meeting. And I FLEW. The funny thing was, I didn’t know how fast I was going. Going up the hill still felt awful. But when I looked at my Strava stats afterwards I saw that I had knocked serious time off my PRs (and hit times I may not see again for a long while). It was amazing.
The bike is also more of an adventure bike. It’s made to hit the dirt, and Boulder has a LOT of dirt. My old bike wasn’t as forgiving off road and my tires were skinnier. The dirt was doable but not enjoyable. So that next weekend I took the new bike onto the trails that I’d only run my mountain bike on, and I felt like I was soaring up them. I skidded out once or twice, but the pros of the lightweight bike far outweighed the cons.
The bike is significantly lighter, the shifting is far superior, and ride is much smoother. It’s a dream.
And the funny thing is, I was so nervous about getting a new bike. Half of me wasn’t convinced I’d be any faster on it or that it wouldn’t feel noticeably different — that it would just be a lot of money for a shiny new thing. And the other half of me sort of felt like I was selling out — dropping some more serious cash on fancy upgrades and lighter parts. Did I really need to be a few seconds faster?
But, turns out, both fears were unfounded. The bike really is noticeably lighter (yes, like everyone said it would be), and I really am faster. And the ride is smoother and can handle dirt and gravel WAY better. All that translates to happier, longer, more comfortable days in the saddle. To wanting to ride my bike more. To being more excited to get out and crush it, eart hills for breakfast, go hard… or something… Anyway, to just Go. Ride. My. Bike.
Turning off onto dirt trails and exploring new routes has reminded me of how much I just love riding my bike. And I’ve even gotten Paul on a bunch of new dirt roads too! He really loves the dirt 😉
So. The point of this is that I love my new shiny blue bike that doesn’t have a name yet. I briefly was going to call her Lennox, but I don’t think that’s. quite. right. We’ll figure it out.
And, in case you’re wondering, my beloved old Novara isn’t going anywhere. The LBS was selling two used Wahoo trainers for about 2/3 off their going rate. Paul and I each bought one, and we’ve now set up our very own “pain cave” in the garage. So the Novara is permanently attached to the new trainer and, as of yesterday, I now am a paying Zwift rider. Turns out that’s more fun than I would have guessed as well (though, riding outside when it’s decent weather still trumps the garage).
Anyway, tl;dr – Go ride yer bike.