Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Lobster of Flanders

Paul Sadoff has built me some amazing bikes. He built me my first cx bike. A school bus yellow Rock Lobster that began my descent into total addiction to all things cyclocross. He also built me my latest cross race bike. I have been coveting a scandium road bike built by him for about 3 years. But I put it off for many reasons. I had a perfectly fine steel road bike. There was no reason to really replace it. Then I read one of his blog posts and had to act. Scandium is all but gone. And what is ironic is that Aluminum is now back in vogue. At least with those who ride. Its funny how it has made an upswing of late. Paul has been spreading the gospel of how great aluminum is forever. Its again funny and ironic now that carbon has "killed" one of the finest aluminum tubesets ever made that it is now being lauded by many as the perfect material for both cross and aggressive road riding. The first time I stomped on the pedals of my aluminum Rock Lobster I was sold. And frankly I was never racing on any other material. But bike frames are way more than the material. Its the builder. And Paul is one of the best. And he knows me and rides a ton. Those two things can never be underestimated when picking a frame builder. Not sure which part is more important. I think the riding part. But having a friend build your bikes is nice too. And one as cool as Paul is just a bonus. He really is one of my heros. But that is a whole other blog post.

I was so stoked to get this frame and fork. And was really looking forward to seeing how it would compare to my old steel bike. What was bizarre is that when I hopped on it, it just felt so right. The sky didn't rip open and I didn't hear Angels singing it just felt perfect. I went on a two hour ride in a rainy drizzle. It had poured earlier so all the chip seal was sketchy as hell. I took it up the Bossburg. Well our version on the Bossburg. I never had to stop once to adjust anything. Not a tweak here or a tweak there. It rode so much like my old bike. Just better. People say Aluminum is harsh. Not at all. The LoF soaked up just as much road chatter as my steel bike. But what it did differently was very subtle. But made ALL the difference. It was livelier. Big time. I felt it in the saddle almost instantly. My pedal stroke was so much smoother. I swear I could flex the bb on my steel bike just stomping on the pedals while seated. Standing up the aluminum bike would just accelerate. No flex. No brake rub. Just woosh. That was not the case with my steel bike. All that flexing especially while climbing would just make me crack mentally. Nothing is more demoralizing than putting watts into the pedals and have them be for nothing.

The lines of the bike probably are more aesthetic than providing any huge performance advantage but damn that is a sexy rear end. The welds are impeccable. And the paint Paul picked is just gorgeous. I went out on a real familiar loop just to get a feel for the bike. But I kept forgetting I was supposed to be "testing" a new bike and would get lulled into just riding. I sort of would fight to get into a good spot on my old bike. The position on the Rock Lobster is maybe a touch more aggressive. The seat angle is steeper. If my steel road bike and my aluminum cx bike hooked up and made a baby this would be their offspring. It has that same responsiveness of my cx bike but still for such a stiff bike is super comfortable. I need to change up a few things. Mainly as the two frames are different in some key areas. I need to replace the Thomson post with a carbon post with setback. One of my good friends in cycling loves bikes almost as much as I do. Like me he is a big fan of all custom bikes. We text, email and dm each other constantly about our dream bike. He had one of the funniest things to say about the Thomson post. Its funny as Coach Al said the exact same thing. Albeit with less anatomic references. And I don't think Al used the word "Jackhammer" but I could be wrong.

Rolling over the top of the Bossburg...our own little piece of hell in lovely Hale Reservation...I can't wait to take it on more long rides. I thought a lot about Norcal while out riding. I mean how couldn't I? It was equal parts nostalgia and equal parts just think how lucky I was/am to have met so many cool people back there who gave me this amazing gift of the bike. I never rode before I moved out west. Not sure I would have found my way to cycling if I had stayed in Boston. I love that the people who brought me up and taught me about riding and loving bikes still are as passionate about the sport as they were back then.

If I let myself I could pretend I was surrounded by Redwoods. But then would come back to reality quickly as some quick turn or descent would force me to put all my attention back to the task at hand. But again the bike was just so solid that you could do all those things. That to me is probably the most important thing a bike can do. It can transport you to a place and let you be there without having to constantly worry about the road surface or how it will react in a corner. Granted it was wet and I was on brand new tires but I had to see just how it would corner. And it railed them. Really nicely. Thanks Paul for rocking so hard!

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