Monday, September 3, 2012

on personal limits and fiddlers elbow

The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I are just back from a trip to Buffalo to visit my mother (see the previous post), my sister, her husband, and several dozen of his relatives at a Labor Day barbecue held yesterday. But that's not what I'm writing about today.

While I was there, a few of my friends did a ride up Fiddler's Elbow (see ride leader Tom H's report, and Laura OLPH's witty report with play-by-play and color reporting.

After reading those reports, I had an epiphany in the shower yesterday morning: with my current setup, there's no way I can beat Fiddler's Elbow. Parts of the grade are about 20%, and when I get to a grade like that, I can't keep my front wheel on the road. So if I start a ride like that, I know I won't be able to complete the hill. I can do a short distance leaning way over the bars, but I can't ride for more than a few strokes like that.

My options appear to be:
  • Get a new bike, with a longer wheelbase, especially behind the saddle, so I don't overbalance backwards on a grade like that;
  • Go on the ride, knowing that having to walk up that steep hill is a virtual certainty;
  • Forego rides with long grades of that steepness.

I'm not going to get another bike (TEW has suggested another bike would mean a larger garage, and if I'm going to do that, we might as well get a bigger house with a new kitchen - so my next bike will cost me a mortgage), and I'd rather not start a ride I don't have the hardware to do. (I have no problem trying a ride that I might not be able to finish due to lack of strength or endurance - that's part of the challenge of riding - but the hardware is beyond my control, and not subject to change by training, weight loss, &c.).

So, Tom, Laura, Blake, and especially the successful Jeff X - while I applaud your efforts, I don't think I'll plan to do that particular hill. Thanks to you, for your experiences (and your valuable reports!) that let me know that this is beyond my current capabilities. And, should I find myself in a new home, with a three-car garage, housing (shall we say) a cyclocross bike with three more centimeters of chainstay length... well, perhaps then I'll try to Play the Fiddler. But probably not before that.

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