Monthly Archives: July 2014

Biking while short and considering a new commuter

At 5′ 3″, I’m really not all that short. The average height for a woman in the US is 5′ 4″ so I’m just shy of average. Tell that to bike manufacturers, though, as they seem to cater to riders of the average male height of 5′ 9″. Depending on geometry, I ride bikes between 46 and 50 cm and feel more comfortable with the smaller end of that range. It’s tough to find frames in that size locally and it’s really frustrating.

Fancy Bike is a 50 and I wonder if that’s just a bit too large. I’m not 100% comfortable on that bike even after riding around 250 mi. I feel wobbly and I have an unexpected small-person issue: the brifters are actually too large for me to comfortably pull to brake and I feel unsafe. I don’t have a solution for that except for trying smaller brifters, and since I’m not doing the RSVP I now wonder if I should sell this bike.

In other news, I’m planning to replace my Kona Dew Plus commuter and have had my eye on the Surly Straggler for several months. I was really excited to learn from the owner of Free Range Cycles that Surly’s rolling out the Straggler 650b in 2015, as the smaller tires might remove the pesky toe overlap problem that’s an issue with 700s on smaller frames and made me hesitate on buying a 2014 model when I test rode one recently.

Why the Straggler? It nicely fits my requirements:

  • Comes in smaller frame sizes
  • Can mount fenders with plenty of clearance
  • Disk brakes
  • Eyelets for a rear rack
  • Eyelets for front panniers, because maybe I’ll go bike camping some day
  • Steel frame for durability and longevity
  • Accepts a variety of tire widths
  • Drop bars with brifters

Surly suckered me in with their marketing approach. “Fuck it, let’s go ride bikes” is a mission statement I can get behind. In addition, it’s a well-respected brand known for quality. I can’t wait to try one out.

On being a quitter

After much discussion, we decided to drop out of the RSVP in late June. I waited until last week to cancel to make sure that I didn’t regret the decision. If I do, there’s always next year.

Neither one of us was enjoying ourselves on the training rides, but we didn’t talk about it until after our last ride. That one was really rough on my boyfriend and he decided to drop out about 60% of the way through (after I dropped him by several miles, oops). We ended up riding to the nearest P&R with a slower pace group then busing back to my car. I wanted to just take it slow and easy on the Burke Gilman, but he was done. I was finding the rides challenging but achievable, but as the rides got longer they began to feel more of a slog and I wasn’t enjoying myself. It was clear at that point that the training rides were boring us both and that neither one of us was excited enough about RSVP to focus on that as a goal. I’ll admit that I felt the same way about the training rides last year, but I was definitely excited about the STP and that kept me going.

It’s been really nice having my weekends back.

The boredom factor was pretty huge. One or two weeks before that disastrous training ride we’d taken a weekend off to do our own thing, just riding out to Redmond and back on the Burke-Gilman and SRT. That was when my boyfriend brought up that he really wanted to stop and do things instead of just pedal along. I’ve felt that, too; the feeling that I was just doing something by rote instead of enjoying myself. I think we would both enjoy 30-40 mi rides with stops for food and activities, so I’ll try planning a few.