If you’ve read John’s most recent post, you know we’re the very pleased owners of new Bilenky bikes, and we’ve been logging some miles on them in preparation for plans to do the Civil War Century metric in September and the Seagull Century in October.
Acquiring a new bike has over-filled our bike storage space. Options are a) build a new shed, b) sell a bike, or build one of these:
We’re going with (b). I’m selling the Soma. It’s quite a beauty, a 42 cm Soma Buena Vista mixte. It fits me (5″1″) well. Great for local rides, road rides long and short, light touring and general fun. Here’s the Craig’s List ad. This price listed doesn’t include shipping. Contact me here or via Craig’s List. It’s going for $1200 (plus shipping) – a big savings over the cost of the build and a perfect bike for your upcoming adventures!
On John’s recommendation I took my aching body out for a short, easy ride this afternoon. The idea being that would help work out some of the
pain discomfort induced by yesterday’s longer ride.
And a what a gorgeous spring day it was. To my surprise, I had fun. And it only hurt a little. I got to see this flourishing tree (above). And (below) one of my favorite houses.
Some intrepid bicyclists continue riding through the entire winter no matter what the weather brings. Me? Some years yes, but not this year. Being self-employed and working at home most days now, biking is a thing I do purely for fun, renewal of the spirit and fitness. It was a long and brutal winter and getting on my bike didn’t strike me as fun, spiritually renewing or a great way to exercise. That’s over for now – finally – and we’ve had some terrific spring weather.
Providing further motivation, we’re signed up for the Tour de Cure on May 2, starting from Cookesville MD. (donate here to support my ride in this fundraiser for diabetes research). The terrain for that ride is very hilly so it’s time to get serious about getting in shape. We’ve been out there and enjoying the spring that’s finally here. Today was a little tough, we took a great leap forward and did our longest ride so far of 2015. Yes, I’m a little sore. Well, maybe a lot sore. But that’s biking. Sometimes it’s fun and carefree, sometimes it’s a struggle that leaves you stronger once you recover. Today’s ride was both.
So it’s spring and it’s beautiful. I’ll stop complaining about achey legs. Or maybe I’ll complain some, but keep it in perspective. Yesterday as we neared home we met a guy who had been a cyclist for 50 years, and had to quit due to vertigo that has never gone away. He’s got it tough. I’m so very lucky to be healthy and strong enough to keep doing what I love so much.
Daffodils are about exuberance and on a good day that’s what biking is about too. My Brompton after exuberantly taking the longer way home after a quick errand, agrees.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted because
1. Work projects involving lots of writing; just didn’t feel like writing more
2. Getting ready for a wedding – mine and John’s!
I’m down to one writing project now and have some time and brainpower for writing about biking.
The wedding took place on September 14th and what a wonderful day it was! We’re honeymooning, with bikes, in Vermont and upstate New York. Our first stop is the lovely Three Mountain Inn, in Jamaica VT.
Yesterday’s ride was just short of 50 miles. The route was beautiful, with 3700 challenging feet of climbing, starting with the first 2 miles out of town. Just under 20 miles were on dirt roads. These were packed firmly enough to ride on but a little bit scary with little potholes and some loose gravel. I should have brought the ANT! My Soma was a little nervous on the rougher terrain, though it’s tires were fine.
The route took us through Londonderry, Grafton, and Townshend. It was one of the toughest – and one of the loveliest- rides I’ve ever done. None of the climbs were particularly steep. Instead, they were long and there were a lot of them. Let’s just say, when John realized we were just .4 miles short of 50, my reaction was “That’s close enough!”
Beforehand we agreed either of us could call a photo-op stop at any time, that we’d stop for lunch and walk around a little. Good decisions. We worked hard on the ride and had a great time. Leaves are just starting to turn, the weather is sunny and cool – perfect for cycling.
It was time to replace the much loved but irretrievably sagging Brooks 17S. I had it transferred to my to my Soma when it was built last year. It was only 4 years old when it developed a very uncomfortable sag. It was fixed once and held up well for about a year. There are many who say Brooks leather saddles aren’t what they once were. Two summers in a row that included week long tours in the rain may have hastened it’s demise. I used a saddle cover of course but after enough days and nights of rain maybe some damage was done. I’d been curious about the Cambium for a while. Given John’s positive experience with it (see previous post) I was ready to give the C17S a try.
I’ve now ridden over 300 miles on it and overall, I like it. I agree with John that it’s amazingly shock absorbing. I didn’t find that it was easy to fit or instantly comfortable though. Part of this might be that the C17S is longer in than the B17S, which changes the feel of the contact points quite a bit. It also made it a little tricky getting the right “fore and aft” position. We couldn’t just copy the positioning of the B17S.
This saddle doesn’t break in. That’s no surprise. What you feel at first is what you get. So I had to toughen up. After a couple of weeks the bruised feeling subsided though was still not entirely gone. I think this was largely due to how long it took me to get the right seat post adjustment.
The Cambium has less height than the B17S. I read other blogs suggesting a need to raise the saddle post .5″ to compensate. That wasn’t the right adjustment for me. After fidgeting with it over a number of weeks (and having the predictable pain behind my kneecaps and then in the muscles around my knee) it dawned on me to look up how to fit the a seat post.
Grant at Rivendell Bicycle Worksg says to adjust the seat post to PBH-4″ from saddle top to the middle of the crank arm. I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant. Which way should the crank arm be positioned? My next “aha” was to check this out using my perfectly fitted ANT (thank you, Baltimore Bicycle Works!). It emerged that you position the crank arm to be parallel with the floor. I made the needed adjustment and now I think I’ve got it! It turns out not only does the right seat post height relieve knee pain and give you full use of your quads for climbing, it also relieves undue saddle pressure. I don’t know the bio-mechanics of that, just reporting the experience. Now when I hop on the ANT the B17S on it feels oddly short and lacking in support. I might end up with Cambium on it, too.
If you read John’s review you’ll see he had no fit problems with his Cambium. He just put it on the bike and he was fine from day one. So there you have it. My experience may not indicate what yours would be like in any way.
Verdict: The Cambium may never give your butt the nice custom comfort that comes with a broken-in leather saddle, but it is noticeably better at smoothing out the ride and it is comfortable when positioned properly. Rain is no problem for it. As others report repositioning yourself on it is easy even though it’s not as smooth as a leather saddle. I expect it to be more durable but won’t know about that for 4-5 years!