Satisfied!

Morning and evening commute

Today was my first time back on the bike following the loose crankset incident. I spent a relaxing weekend and made sure this time the crankset was on and snugged down to the manufacturer’s specification.

The result was very satisfying. The bike shifts surely, and there’s a noticeable difference in climbing ability. There’s still a bit of adjusting to do with the front derailleur as there’s some chain noise in the upper gears, but everything is basically working. With the lower tooth count on the front, I shift onto the larger chainring sooner than previously, but that’s expected. The only surprise from the new mech is if, like me, you’re kind of shocked that there were no surprises.

There’s a moderate rise near my office, on the order of 4%-5% over 300m to climb out of the Tama River valley, that’s a regular feature of my rides. Usually it’s after a long ride along the banks of the Tamagawa that I encounter this climb on the way home. I previously would ride it in my lowest or second-lowest gear, averaging about 11-13km/h. And I’d arrive huffing and puffing at the top, and pull over for a rest before the final leg homeward.

This morning, to test my new gearing, I took on the hill en route to the office. I put Kuroko into her new lowest gear and wound steadily up the rise at 9-10km/h. I arrived at the top without any huffing and puffing, and generally felt I could have kept climbing at that rate for some time.

With that simple test out of the way, I determined on the ride home this evening for a bit more of a challenge. The Halfakid previously introduced me to another route up that same hill, on the other side of the tracks, that’s quite a bit steeper. Roughly the same rise but over a much shorter distance. I’ve been up it twice before, and arrived at the top feeling like I was ready to die.

Personal Best on the St. Antonio Climb
Personal Best on the St. Antonio Climb

Right after leaving the office, I aimed Kuroko at the St. Antonio Climb, named for a nearby monastery. As mentioned, it’s a short climb, with an average rise of 8%. Notably, there’s a 100m section that averages 15%, with a brief run exceeding 16%. A perfect test for new climbing gears.

I had a few pedestrians to deal with at the approach to the climb, but I was soon in the thick of it and dropped Kuroko onto the largest cog. I was soldiering along at 7-8km/h and my thighs were groaning with the effort. I made the top, more readily than I had previously, I imagined. And I didn’t feel like I was dying — although I’m sure I sounded like a cardiac arrest was imminent.

It wasn’t until I arrived home and synced up my GPS that I learned I’d made a personal best on the St. Antonio Climb, with an average speed of 11.8km/h. So that’s all to the good, although I’m not sure yet what this means in terms of possible 9%-10% grades over multiple kilometers. A bit closer to home, Otarumi Touge beckons for a return match.

You knew there’d be a mechanical, didn’t you?

Within a couple of kilometers of having finished the St. Antonio Climb, I started having an issue with my left cleat. It just wasn’t engaging smoothly, and after a few more attempts it stopped engaging at all. Something would catch on something, so I didn’t have to worry about my foot sliding about on the pedal, but if I tried pulling on it my foot would come right off. As I could still ride and was making good time, I didn’t bother to stop to have a look. By the time I got home, though, the shoe wouldn’t even sit flat on the pedal.

I put Kuroko into her berth and had a quick look at the pedals. Nothing seemed amiss. I took the elevator up to our flat and as I walked along the carpeted hallway it was immediately obvious what the problem was: the left cleat was loose from the shoe. Once I got home and took it off, I could see one of the bolts had pulled out. So I guess that shows I was using a bit more force than usual on my St. Antonio climb. Fortunately, I have a few spares. I’ll check all the cleat bolts while I’m at it.

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