In my last post I outlined why I wanted to try moving from conventional drop bars to a pair of alt bars on my touring bike. Two rides in and I’m really pleased. They have fulfilled their brief which was to:
- Give me a slightly more upright position to reduce / eliminate neck pain at the end of a long ride.
- Allow multiple hand positions despite being more upright (std straight bars would not offer this.
- Offer a good position for putting power into steep climbs using the strength of both arms and legs.
Tick, tick tick. And as a bonus the new stem needed has given an ideal place to mount my GPS, which used to be mounted on top of my bar bag in a very ad hoc and unsatisfactory manner. In the unlikely event of Velo Orange (the makers) reading this there are just two changes I’d make. I’d add 25 mm in length to the forward facing bars to be able to get a whole hand onto these bars rather than part onto the bar end shifters and I’d cut 25 mm off the end of the raked back bars (though I guess I could do this myself without much bother.
It took ca. 30 miles to get used to them. Perhaps the oddest thing is that, for me, my most frequent hand position is not one close to the brakes. Whilst this was to be expected, it takes some adapting too. I am used to riding on the hoods with the brakes within reach. Now for steep descents and in town I move my hands to the raked position, in town this is fine, but its a bit odd to be so ‘non aero’ on steep descents. A surprise was my favoured position for honking it up hills and that is to have my hands out on the aero position, if I’m spinning I have my hands right to the top of the bars (which is when I think a little extra length of the tilted section would be ideal) but when I’m up out of the saddle I just more my hands back a little to the level section of the aero bars. I thought I’d be right out on the wide swept section for this, but it feels really powerful to be in the former position. Resting my hands on the intersection seems to take the place of when I’d normally hold the flats. I’ve got flats exactly as before but the intersection just feels better. I use this position to recover after a long climb before I start applying the power again. Overall I spend the greatest proportion of my time at the ends of the aero bars. It feels like a really good position to put in lots of power. My average speed was up, but whether this was the position or just the excitement of new equipment it is hard to say.
I cannot sign off without giving a mention to the cafe above, where I had lunch. This is just off the A65 in Hellifield – Hazy Dayz This was a pivotal part of today’s route and I was delighted to find they offer a free pot of tea to any cyclist the orders food. Great all day breakfast too.