Marcus, sounds like a great weekend. I know how you ride and I don't think you had to worry about embarassing yourself.
The comment in your note that really caught my attention was, "think how much faster you'd be on a new bike." A few years ago after 20 years of beating myself up trying to stay with the fast guys on the local century I thought I'd try something different....ride it on a fixed gear. If you can't be fast go for style points. So in 2004 at age 61 I did a fixed gear century. I was amazed at how few other riders noticed. Those that did were usually sitting on my wheel when suddenly they would say "hey you don't have a brake" and I would respond "and no gears either". The following year I continued the "style" theme by riding my 1988 Basso Loto with 7 speed friction C Record shifting. Again mostly unnoticed. The third year I rode my modern carbon Trek with 10speed Ergo.
The result was that I finished all three rides within 5 minutes of each other. So, I believe you are unlikely to be faster on a modern bike unless you are riding hilly terrain where weight and wider gear ranges might make a difference.
You might be faster however by swapping the sneakers for cleated shoes.
> This past weekend I rode a in three-day, 300 mile charity ride to raise
> money for the Make A Wish foundation. Thanks to Nick Z for the generous
> There were 700 riders. As far as I could tell, my '77 Richard Sachs was
> the oldest bike there. I saw no more than a handful of steel bikes,
> almost none with fork crowns. There was an early 80's Colnago, and a mid
> to late 80's Diamant. Even those people who looked twice at my bike, and
> recognized a fine steel frame, were not familiar with Richard Sachs.
> "Isn't he the guy who invented the Sachs derailleurs?"
> I did not see anyone else with a spare tubular tire attached to the
> underside of their saddle. For the record, I had one there, and another
> in my jersey pocket. I was tempted to wear the extra in a figure 8 over
> my shoulders, but that seemed too ostentatious. I have generally been
> lucky with sew-ups, and got no flats.
> I rode with people who were generally faster than me, staying in the pack,
> taking a turn up front, and hoping not to embarass myself. Everyone was
> nice, so I couldn't have been too slow. At one point as I shifted, I said
> alound that I thought I could use one more gear. The guy next to me asked
> whether I had 8 or 9 back there. He was deeply surprised when I answered
> 5. The first day was hilly, and there were headwinds the second day, but
> the Sachs was a terrific ride, and my Brooks Pro was extremely
> comfortable. The Campy hubs rolled as well as anything out there.
> Although the recommended equipment list suggested low gears, and possibly
> a triple, I did it with the traditional 42/52 and 14-24. And toeclips and
> I did get a few "wow you did really well for someone with such an old
> bike" remarks. And "think how much faster you'd be on a new bike." The
> other thing I heard was, "gee, your bike is really quiet."
> It was striking how far out of the mainstream we have become with our old
> bikes. I wondered too, how much easier it would have been on a bike that
> was 5 pound lighter. Still, I wouldn't trade any of my old bikes, with
> their elegance and beauty for a newer one.
> Almost recovered,
> Marcus Helman
> Huntington Woods, MI