Finding the right bike is like meeting your soul mate: That special connection? It's not easy to come by. So when Guru Fit offered to help me narrow down my search at Cannondale HQ's last month, I jumped at the chance. Their unique bike fitting system (here's more on the full experience) felt a little like joining Match.com. For two hours, I answered questions that would hopefully lead to my perfect mate. In this case, it was a 2013 Cannondale Synapse Carbon Women's 5 105. When I finally came face-to-frame with the all-white road bike that was built just for me, it simply took my breath away. It looked fast, lightweight, and so...handsome?
I've never described any of my bikes in a masculine way before. But then again, my previous bikes have always been slightly girlier with pink handlebar tape or purple type-face. This shiny, almost glowing carbon steed that I quickly dubbed my White Knight, however, didn't have a hint of femininity other than the fact that the frame was a women's specific design (meaning it was built with smaller, female-sized parts). I couldn't wait to take him out for a test ride. The very next day, we hit the road together for a 64-mile trip from New York City to the bike-friendly town of Nyack, NY, and back (the equivalent of flying to Paris for dinner on a first date).
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And like many first dates, lust-at-first-sight only lasted so long. Our first 15 miles felt like uneventful small talk. We hadn't connected yet, and I was starting to get a little anxious. So we stopped by the popular cyclists hangout, Strictly Bicycles, just over the George Washington Bridge, to freshen up. There, the friendly bike mechanic adjusted the gears and tweaked the brakes, which had probably been thrown out of whack during transportation from Cannondale headquarters in Connecticut to NYC. The thing with these higher-end performance road bikes is that they're a lot more sensitive than say a $500 commuter or mountain bike. Lean them on a wall the wrong way, and they'll make you pay for miles with a subtly shifted brake adding resistance to your wheel.
Back on the road again, things were better, but still slightly off. I couldn't put my finger on it. Why did I keep bouncing in the saddle? Do I feel crammed in this 48 cm frame? I usually ride a 51 cm, but the Guru Fit suggested something smaller for this particular brand and model. Since I didn't have any definitive answers, I stopped worrying about it and tried to focus on enjoying the beautiful ride.
By the time we returned home, my knees were a bit achy and I was feeling unconvinced that Cannondale's White Knight was "The one." So I did what most women do in my situation: I went on a second date. But before we went out for another “dinner in Paris," I met with Colby, one of the Guru Fit's top matchmakers, for a quick consultation.
I gave Colby a heads-up about my concerns so he could study my data from my fitting. When we met, he was fully equipped with solutions—namely a cool carbon seat post that curved at the neck. Unlike the seat post that came with the bike, which went straight up, this one's backward swoop neck awarded me an inch or so more room between my seat and the handlebars. It also made my bike even lighter! It was the seat post that I should have had all along. Colby assured me that the bike was now 100-percent made to fit all of my measurements, which set me up to have an efficient, pain-free, comfortable, and powerful ride. I had to try it to believe it.
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The next day, White Knight and I set out to ride to Rockland Lake, NY, (let's call it the French Riviera) for a long 77-mile day with about 5,000 feet of climbing. What a difference that inch makes! It's true, ladies, size does matter, especially when it comes to bikes. Even millimeters will greatly make or break how the bike fits and feels, which is why it's good to seek help from the pros.
The next six hours we spent together flew by! It was like riding a whole new bike. Nothing distracted my focus—I didn't think about the shifting, braking, the saddle, anything. The bike and I just wanted to go, so we went. We were fast and strong—I felt unstoppable and even toyed with the idea of getting 100 miles in that day. I had to cut our ride short because I physically bonked, but if I hadn't, we could have gone forever.
For daily updates on my training, follow me on Twitter @CDGoyanes.