[CR]presoftening, Panther Run, and Girardengo


From: "Aldo Ross" <swampmtn@siscom.net>
To: <Classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
References: <000901c10ba4$307b17c0$25880b18@c1680382-a.frmt1.sfba.home.com> <a04320401b774e9c85c8f@[192.168.1.2]> <008101c10bd7$3b383ca0$461bfea9@pacbell.net>
Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2001 17:37:08 -0400
Subject: [CR]presoftening, Panther Run, and Girardengo

Interesting how the topic of presoftened saddles should come up just when I've bought my very first new Brooks saddle, a presoftened honey & copper Professional, installed on the Girardengo. It's a beautiful saddle, mounted connected to a plain aluminum post by a brilliantly chromed steel clamp we found in the attic at I-Pro. Goes nicely with the light olive green Giri, with red housings and dark olive cotton tape... shellacked, of course.

Took it out for a test ride last night; an easy recovery ride, after hammering away with the racing group on Wednesday night's hilly ride. Warm, dry weather for a change, after a hot and humid holiday weekend. A few clouds meandered by, gray on the bottom, but lit a brilliant white on top... otherwise it was a perfectly clear evening.

I haven't ridden the Giri since April, so it took a while to get used to the large frame and long wheelbase. It's comfortable enough, although I'll need to find a different bottom bracket one of these days; the current one positions the Stronglight 49 crankset WAY out to the right, so there's a 3/4" gap from right arm to chainstay, while the left arm very nearly touches. That's probably why my right knee always hurts after riding this bike.

Funny that I've never had a new leather saddle before - they've always been preowned, presoftened, and prefitted to someone else's riding habits, so the hard, lumpy intruder on last night bike was a real surprise! I'm glad it became continually more comfortable during the ride.

I was still miserably tired and sore from Wednesday night's climbing, so I rode slow and easy down to Panther Run. I took a short gravel shortcut and learned something about the tires on the Giri - Avocet FasGrip 27x1-1/4", must be at least 15 years old, with a smooth tread cured by time to the consistency of ancient shoe leather. They squeak when I corner, and slipping along the gravel road I felt like I was riding through crushed ice!

There's a new subdivision growing along Maud Hughes Road, just south of Pant her Run. At the corner of M-H and Millikin there's an old farmhouse, formerly home to my arch-nemesis, "Mr. Scruffles." This tan and white barker made a hobby of knocking into me when I did track-stands at the stop sign - he took me out at least three times! The new development is being built right over his old home, so the barn's been torn down, and the house is now empty and windowless, a final reminder of our old rivalry.

Further south on Maud Hughes there's a section of road built atop an old railroad levee, which drops off about 50 feet to a creekbed on either side. Last winter a major storm washed-out both sides of the levee, leading to the closure of this section of road. The asphalt surface is still intact, but the road shoulder is now dozens of feet lower, so it's been deemed unsafe for traffic. Luckily I can ride around the wooden barriers, and for about a half mile I have the road entirely to myself.

This has always been one of my favorite stretches, as it's narrow and canopied, i.e. the trees on either side touch above the road, creating a long straight tunnel of Walnut, Oak, and Sycamore. The long closure has left the surface covered in branches and twigs, young green walnuts, shards of old acorns, and a sea of colorful bark pealed from the Sycamore trees. (Sycamores grow so quickly they actually outgrow their bark, which falls away in small patches. Each new patch is a lighter color than the old patch, and as these sections peel away, they form multicolored scrolls of crunchy bark, like old parchment.)

There are hawks in these tall trees, and large woodpeckers and thrashers. In a small clearing I spot a pair of bright blue Indigo Buntings, which fall away into the ravine, then disappear among the honeysuckle and 5-leaf Virginia Creeper.

The quiet nature of this road section is disturbed only by the creaking of Lyotard pedals, which have had the outer "quill" cut away like track pedals. The rear section of cage is slowly working it's way loose from the pedal body, and grows noisier the heavier I get - suppose there's a connection? (strictly a rhetorical question - don't send comments, please!).

At dusk, I turn the bike and ride slowly home... the sky to my left turns a bright salmon pink, then violet, then crimson.

The new saddle is now properly broken-in.

However, it will still take more riding to soften it.

Aldo Ross