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I'm just excited to be able to start riding outside again.

I had my first outdoor ride on Tuesday night with our tri training team. We've been indoors since last season, and it's the first outdoor session since getting my new bike.

I got a Shiv Rival Mid-Compact. No upgraded components or anything like that...I may at some point, but I'd rather spend time improving the engine than money improving the components.

I cannot say enough about how much I love this bike. I did a 10 minute warm-up, then 6 miles on moderate to light hills where I was in hardest gear for a stretch of 1/4 of it, then the same 6 mile loop where I was in hardest gear for 3/4 of it (the rest in normal gearing), and there was a pretty strong cross-wind the entire time. I ran the two loops at an avg speed of 20.4 mph, which is more than 2 mph faster than I was riding last season on my Fuji Newest. A good bit of that improvement is the bike, though I've worked hard this off-season as well so I think at least some is due to the work I've put in. Considering the hardest-gear drill I was doing, and the big wind, I would guess that's not what I'll be at for race-day speeds on a good weather day.

Needless to say, I'm pumped at the speed I've picked up on the bike. It's flat-out blazing fast. I was passed by only one other rider, and I was hanging with him even after he passed me, and the only reason I didn't pass him later is due to being in hardest gear for a chunk of the ride (he wasn't on our team...I ride in an area where there are tons of riders). I get a pretty sick sense of joy being on the road and passing almost everyone I come across, or seeing strong riders chasing to catch up with me and not capable of doing so.

But it cannot be understated what a smooth, pleasurable ride the bike has as well. I did 15.5 total miles and finished feeling like it was nothing. I've done 20 on my old bike at 17.5 mph on that loop that felt far tougher, as the level of effort and the feel of the ride were far worse. I had a dinner I needed to be at that night, or else I definitely would have run the loop at least once more. The ride feels extremely smooth, and the bike feels like it takes far less effort to drive it.

It's an expensive bike. I was looking at bikes in the $2,200 range. This one cost $3k. But after having test-rode literally eight other carbon-fibre tri bikes, knowing what they felt like compared to this, I am 100% certain I did the right thing paying the extra money for the Shiv. I'll be riding this bike for nothing less than the next five years, I'm going to be using it for Ironman so I will put significant miles on it, I'm really glad I went a bit higher end for a bike I will be thrilled to ride as opposed to a lower end model that I'll just be decently happy to ride but not excited about.

It's snowing in Richmond as I type this, so unfortunately we're not fully in spring quite yet. But we should be doing more outside rides over the next few weeks. I'm so excited for the new season!!!

- C -
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