Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Las Vegas Outdoors, Giant and Trek Get the Test

So in the last post BBB spent half the space dissing the lack of outdoor activities--and the space to do them.

But yesterday I headed out to the Interbike Outdoor Demo in Boulder City to join in the yearly 24-mile ride to Lake Mead, and sample a couple of bikes on hand before heading back to Las Vegas.

Funny enough, or maybe not so funny, the clock in BBB's hotel room was set an hour ahead, so I ended up going out an hour early, at the crack of dawn. It did however give me a chance to do a bit of a pretour of the area and learn a little about the place.

After checking out gorgeous Lake Mead at dawn, I headed over to the Historic District of Boulder City. The town has a nice old hotel, and a cute little cafe that looks more like a bar from the outside.
Lindsay and Sandy
The owner Alan Stevens and his daughter Lindsay both have armfuls of tatoos, and as he sips coffee, I learn a little bit about the area. A man named Brent Thompson he said was an avid cyclist and he fought the Boulder City and Lake Mead administrations to build multiple bike lanes in the area. Thompson died last year of a heart attack. 

Stevens said he rides a 1977 Raleigh bike, and that the area has a lot of cyclists, but BC also seemed like the kind of place where people come to get away from Las Vegas--for good. Chuck Cascioepo, a patron of the cafe worked for years in Las Vegas, but now prefers the low-key style of BC.

Elena holding my Giant

Then I headed over to the Outdoor Demo to pick up the women's small TCR compact road bike, Advanced SL3. This bike has Shimano Ultegra components, and Aluminum  handlebar and stem. Glen Whipple helped me out, and explained that the bike's tight triangle geometry is meant to enhance responsiveness in a race situation.

I took this bike out on the ride, and it was a nice clean ride. It felt decidedly different from the Trek which seems a lot softer on the road. However I liked the sleekness of the bike, though I didn't not feel so aero in the descent. The first several miles of the ride was a straight downhill into the wind towards Lake Mead, and with the embedded round stones that served as road guides, I was waiting for a crash to happen.

Still the view was tremendous, and the ride seemed more like a race than a ride. Unfortunately on the way back, which was basically a 12 mile climb in boiling hot sun, i realized I was riding a bike with a 12/ 25 on the  back, not enough gearing for my legs and this massive hill.

After I got back, I went over to Trek--the brand I have been riding for the past year and a half, and tried out the Trek Madone. They gave me a bike with Ultegra parts, I would have like to have tried either the SRAM or the new electronic gear shifters, but it was not to be.

Unfortunately, Trek is still the bike I feel most comfortable on as a ride. However, as before, I find the women's specific design very bunched up in the front even though I was riding a slightly bigger bike than the one I own (I do own the wrong size). In this regard, my handlebar position relative to my leg and seat position was much better on the Giant's women specific bike. I immediately felt very comfortable on the Giant and rode without any pain or issues, even though I didn't feel too fast on it (could be my fitness).

The Trek on the other hand is not as comfortable, even though the headset had about 5 spacers to bring the handebars closer to me. Still the ride is practically unparalled smoothe, with only a slight warble when I braked to take a turn.

I asked Trek's marketing coordinator Sam Foos to explain the warble, but didn't really hear an explanation. Trek designers and marketers came up with a very angled new design for the tubing on this bike, and even though you can pick and choose your colors for free on the Madone level, the paint jobs on these very both very ugly and very compelling at the same time.

I could say they have an aggressive, masculine race sensibility even when using purple and white, but both the angular tubing--meant to make the bike lighter, stronger, and more responsive--started to grow on me.  Still I could see these colors going out of style in a couple of years. Foos said the reason for the Project One approach is so that every cyclist can enjoy their individuality, but the number of choices makes bike shopping a little more difficult. Still, for high end bike uses like the Madone buyers, this makes sense.

No comments: