I cycled more than 525 km in the past 2 weeks, a combination of long difficult rides, climbing and sprints.
I am planning to do the Canada Day Populaire again this year, a 147 km ride in the scenic Fraser Valley. I did the ride last year and really enjoyed it. This year, I am better prepared. I have put in more miles and, have a bike particularly suited to randonneur type events, the Roberts – a steel frame touring bike equipped with an Ultegra compact crankset.
I wanted to do a tempo ride yesterday in preparation for the July 1 event. I rode the Roberts out to Steveston and back, a 65 km round trip on flat, rural roads for the most part. There is a 4 km climb at the end, there is always a long climb at the end of a long ride. Why is that? I didn’t want to work too hard It was more like a recovery ride. The entire ride, I used the small chainring, maintaining a relatively high cadence averaging 25-30 kph.
I had not been on the Roberts for a couple of weeks. I had forgotten what a comfortable ride it is. The steel frame, although it may be heavy, is very forgiving, absorbing the bumps better than the Garneau’s carbon frame. Last year, I rode the Garneau. This year, I am planning to ride the Roberts. It is not quite as fast, but it is easier on the body over a long period of time.
But I digress. I want to discuss the compact crankset. I enjoy riding on the smaller chainring. I seem to have gears that I can’t find on a standard crankset. I spin faster and more easily but do not lose a lot of speed. And, climbing is easier as well. Again, I select a larger cog on the back and spin faster, and more easily, up the hill.
I first discovered the compact crankset on a rental bike in Maui a couple of years ago. We rented bikes to do the West Maui Loop, a 100 km ride that circumvents the west volcano. The north end of the loop has several challenging climbs so the bike shops equip their bikes with compacts instead of either the standard or triple cranksets. I have been riding with the compact crankset since rebuilding the Roberts this winter and don’t know why I haven’t done it sooner. In fact, I am considering putting one on the Garneau as well.
The compact option is more popular today not only with recreational cyclists but with the pros as well. I’d like to know your thoughts. Do you ride with a compact? Do you like it as much as I do?
Here is an article outlining 10 reasons to consider compact cranks that may change your mind if you have never considered changing your cranks.