I took a short break for a photo op as the sunlight began to fade more quickly than I'd anticipated today.

I’m not quite a dozen miles into my ride and it is only gradually beginning to dawn on me that I had planned to add an extra layer of socks today. I’ve hit my stride and I’m pedaling vigorously enough that so long as I can see the sun I don’t seem to feel the cold. But the shadows are swiftly growing long and as I slide behind a hill the sun disappears. Perhaps it’s only my imagination but as I travel along through the gloom the temperature seems to immediately drop ten degrees. I pause for a moment to turn on my flashing rear light and then continue. I neglected to bring my headlight and wonder if I’ll get home or if nightfall will overtake me first.

In the distance a train rounds a bend. The engineers, I think, are used to seeing me ride along this section of highway and always blow their horns and wave as we pass one another.

It’s really never occurred to me before today, but I position my handlebars very low relative to my saddle height. In a conversation with a bike builder this morning the aggressive position was a topic of conversation. Even on my touring bike my riding position has me folded in half, especially when in the drops; I’m used to riding this way and frankly it hasn’t seemed to negatively impact my performance or comfort. But the conversation got me thinking about trying something different on my ride today.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that the “correct” way to position handlebar height was to begin with correct saddle height, balance a yard stick along the saddle and then position the bars about an inch or so below the saddle height. By contrast, my drop setting is closer to 10cm! So to compare my “standard” ride set up with something closer to “correct,” I decided to raise the bar, quite literally, on my Shogun today.

What I discovered was startling: I didn’t notice a whole lot of performance difference, which was something I totally expected to experience. The overall ride was very comfortable, although I rode further back on the saddle when I was braking on descents, and I didn’t feel the “parachute effect” that I’d anticipated with a slightly more upright body position as I headed into the wind. In fact, I felt very fresh for the entire ride, regardless of whether I was riding hills or flats. This bike has shorter crank arms than on my other bikes (170 vs 175) and I was curious if I’d notice a change in cadence or perhaps some perceived difference in effort. If anything, my perception was that the shorter cranks seemed to pedal slightly easier than usual. I kept a high cadence up for two and a half hours only dropping revs on the final climb before reaching the house on my return.

Today’s adjustment has given me something to think about and I will probably try raising the bars on my other riders to see how – or even if – it affects the ride quality.


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