Dave, the owner of Valley Cycles, gave me a fantastic deal on this bike; just an unbeatable bargain. He made sure the bike was fitted properly and that I would be comfortable while riding it (as any good bike shop should do) then gave the drivetrain a good adjustment and had me ride it around in the parking lot for a bit. Everything was just as it was several months ago, when I first took this bike for a test ride -- just a few good cranks, and I was blasting off. I couldn't wait to get this thing home and go for an extended ride.
My first ride around town was a short, 2-mile sprint. This is my first "real" road bike, so I have to take some time to adjust to the drop bars and reaching for the brake levers. All in all, I only almost killed myself twice.
The side-streets in Hazleton are a mess. Many still have piles of snow on them and even the ones that don't have a fresh coating of gravel on them, making the ride an unsure one as the thin tires try to grip the pavement. I hate to admit that I didn't exactly engage in the most safe riding practices, either. It's been a while since I've ridden in heavy traffic, and my skills have deteriorated a bit.
The thing that surprised me was the number of drivers who waved me through intersections and patiently waited for me to cross streets -- and this was even as traffic was ramping up for rush hour. Maybe Hazleton is becoming more bike-friendly? Certainly not the streets, but the drivers are at least less willing to throw things at me.
I'm happy to report that the Defy ascends like a dream. Even after sitting out from serious riding for a few weeks, I was tackling challenging hills with with ease and grace. The bike is aluminum, but still the lightest bike I've ever owned. Seriously, it shocks me how light the bike is.
Another notable thing about yesterday's ride was that I was able to squeak it in right before February was over. My commitment to make at least one ride a month, no matter the weather conditions, remains in tact!