I am grateful to live in a town that has several great bike shops. As I stated in a previous post, Bicycle Garage Indy had been my primary choice for decades. I had long heard good things about Mathews Bicycles as well [www.matthewsbikes.com/]. When I started thinking about the cross country ride, I thought about a new road bike. It was 2012, and I was willing to pay for either a Titanium or mostly/all carbon frame. We seemed to have hit a crossover point where the cost of carbon had come down and the benefits of Titanium didn’t seem to be worth the cost premium. After speaking with several shops, other bikers, and general reading, I was especially enamored with something from Specialized, who was the leader in carbon bikes. Mathews Bicycles was an authorized dealer. Admittedly, I was somewhat prejudiced going in, but I test rode 3 different bikes in a similar price range – a Trek, a Bianchi, and the Specialized Roubaix. The Trek and Bianchi were a combination of aluminum and carbon. Since I had been accustomed to the “more aggressive geometry” of my 1987 Trek, I actually liked the feel of the Bianchi the best, but in the end, the shifting and overall characteristics of the all carbon Specialized won me over. When I pushed on the pedals I could tell it was just so efficient at transferring that power into motion. Even though the ride was still going to be a few years away, I wanted plenty of time to adjust to the different geometry of the new bike. The shifters were no longer on the frame tube and were now integrated into the brake levers. The gearing was a little higher, and I sat a little more upright, with wider handlebars. I was going to need time to adjust.
After a year and at least one Hilly Hundred under my belt, I had decided that I was going to “gear down” the drive train. I hardly used the highest gears. When I did, I was going downhill with a tail wind. When you are already doing 35 MPH without pedaling, there wasn’t much point in shifting higher to get up to 36 MPH. The folks at Mathews advised me to just swap out the rear cluster of gears for something closer to a mountain bike gearing. This would require a swap of the chain and rear dérailleur as well. They advised me to try that for a while and then re-evaluate if any modifications were needed on the front sprocket as well. After successfully climbing Mt. Tabor Hill* on the next Hilly Hundred, I was satisfied with the changes.
I let Mathews do the final wheel truing and spoke overhaul on my Trek. They’ve helped with some minor, but vital seat adjustments on the Specialized (aka Hidalgo), and set me up with an extra long skewer for my rear rack. Like the other great shops, they support the greater riding community by promoting any rides in the area and are especially supportive of the racing community at events conducted at the Indianapolis Velodrome. Hidalgo will probably get its final tune up with Mathews. They too, are regulars at the vendor tent at the Hilly Hundred, where you can get a lot of end of season bargains.
*PS – Mt Tabor Hill is probably the most challenging part of the Hilly Hundred. I forget the exact specs, but it has a grade ” 20.2% incline, 23% in right turn at top” and is at least 300 yards long. These are not my videos, but this gives you a sense of it:
The Lone Rider