A little bit about me; I started riding mountain bikes as a means of quickly commuting through campus back around 1993. I liked riding mountain bikes so much I decided to buy me a crappy road bike and began to occasionally ride with PnP. In this time frame I was riding my mountain bike every chance I got, entering a race or two here and there, but never properly trained. After 5 years of this, I finally graduated and began to work offshore with a 14 and 7 schedule. Needless to say, my love for biking was put on hold. It’s just kind of hard to stay in shape when there is a pie eating contest every night in the galley. I did the offshore thing for about 5 years before I became a land dweller again and in 2006 was when I picked up the road racing itch. I dropped from 230 pounds to about 170 in a year’s time. It wasn’t until 2007 that I began to train properly by educating myself through reading loads of material. Competing at this level (1-2-3 fields) requires nothing more than discipline. Discipline covers everything; waking up at 04:30 to train, knowing when to push it and when to take it easy, when to say – I can’t eat that (which I struggle with), and sticking to your workout program and not someone else’s who is faster than you. As far as bicycles go – I change my mind as much as I change – well you get the picture. I own 3 bikes that all serve a purpose and I ride the piss out of all 3 of them. My race day road bike, a time trial bike – which I really hate to ride, and what I call a rain / train bike. When I refer to a rain / train bike, that is a bike that I don’t mind taking through the muddy roads during grinding season or when there is a monsoon coming down. With this in mind, you may think – WOW it must really be a beater bike. Well, for a couple of years I was on a semi fancy aluminum bike which I did all of my rain / training on. Since I now compete in the 1,2,3′s, I will schedule up to 5 hours in the saddle during the base period. A lot of times I would get numbness in all areas like hands, wrists, crotch, and severe back pain after long rides. Now – I’m 36 years old and I need every little advantage I can get. Some of you younger guys can ride on a stiff bike and not bat an eye – but not me. I start to feel everything after about 80 miles into it. At the beginning of the season I started to feel the pains I was dreading and knew I had to change something. I knew I had to start searching for a new bike that wasn’t necessarily a “race day” bike, but something that could keep me comfy for more than 5 hours as well as keep up with the whipper snappers on the blazing fast PnP rides. Well – I started reading hundreds of reviews online and to my surprise the Specialized Roubaix was the hands down winner. Out of all of the hundreds of posts, there was not one bad thing in particular people had to say about this frameset. If there were some bad things, it was mostly interchangeable things like seat-posts and stems. The Roubaix comes in 4 different frame levels, but from what I can tell from the reviews, it appears the higher the level of Roubaix that was purchased, the stiffer the frameset appeared to be. So – at this point I went to the Specialized site and confirmed this. They have different manufacturing or lay up processes that do make the frame stiffer. They refer to it by some fancy F.AC.T. 7, 8, or 9 branding.
Well, I did not want another stiff racing frame, because I already have one, so I chose the elite, which was one step above the lowest model (comp). A lot of the reviewers commented on this particular model, so it was an easy choice for me. Also, it was black and silver and just happened to be the colors of the team. I told Miller what size I wanted and it was in his shop – ready to ride within 4 days. I made sure to ride my race bike for an extended period of time before I jumped on the new one – just so I could make a valid comparison. I knew the first thing I wanted to do is stand on the pedals then just cruise along; I threw a leg over and stood on it – the first thing I noticed was a definite delay in it’s input – meaning it was not as laterally stiff as the race bike. I did expect this however. When I sat down and began to ride, I immediately thought I was on 2 flat tires. When standing on the bike, your knees are taking the bumps, but when you sit, the whole frame is absorbing the blows. It was unbelievable – it was so comfortable; I had to keep looking at the tires to see if they were flat. After 30 minutes of cruising around, I noticed the wheelbase was a bit longer which would also attribute the lack of lateral stiffness and the relaxed ride. Also, this is a super compact frame which has a lot of exposed seat post that flexes quite a bit when hitting the bumps. I decided to get down in to the drops and I noticed that the grips felt really spongy and soft. I’ve never rode in the drops for so long – I stayed in the drops it seemed like forever. My wrists didn’t hurt or anything like that. Come to find out – Specialized puts what they call “fat bar”
sponge underneath the bar tape on the Roubaix’s which makes it really supple. I took it on a few PnP rides and was in love with it. I could ride that thing as long as I had sunlight – a real pleasure to climb aboard. I recently raced the Rouge Roubaix on my new bike and could not have been happier with its performance. They only thing I was not happy with was my conditioning. I actually had fun during the race, as you may have seen my wheelie pictures. I literally could have turned around and done the race again – that’s how un-fatigued I was. Last year I completed the race in less than four hours on my Aluminum bike, but I was ready to die from my entire body being sore. It took me four days to recover from that race in 08. This year – I was on the bike the very next day. I will say I could have wished for a bit more stiffness when climbing, but hey – You can’t have it all and I was willing to make that trade-off. For those of you who plan on putting in a killer base in the winter months, and want a comfy road bike that you could actually race if you wanted – I highly recommend a Specialized Roubaix – you will not regret it!
Just a kind reminder:
-Macca @ Red’s tomorrow, Thursday 04/02/2009 @ 7:00 PM
-Last chance to tweak your bike before the New Orleans Half IM
(“The Spin Zone” will be a weekly, recurring post in which we’ll feature a star for one or another reason or for no reason at all)