4000 miles and we begin to get acquainted with our steeds. For Liz, this has meant long climbs and sore knees. Strengthening exercises a morning routine. The pain remains. Something just isn’t right.
We have known for a long time that the gears on the Salsa Fargo are too tall. Unfortunately, the crank that comes with the bike won’t take smaller gears and we haven’t had time to order new ones. Further, I’ve come to learn that Liz has shorter cranks than I do meaning she has to apply more force while climbing. I share this information with Liz and immediately she feels betrayed. “I’ve been working harder than you!”
In Santa Fe, we finally have the opportunity we are waiting for. Good bike shops and lots of time to make something happen. Mellow Velo helps us source new cranks. Lower gears.
We pass the time waiting for the cranks to arrive researching gear inches and frame geometries. Liz reads a post by Off Route and sees a familiar theme. She sends it my way. Liz may need a new frame as well as lower gearing. Moving from 29″ wheels to 27.5″ wheels is another way to reduce the amount of force required to climb. At 5’3″, the smaller wheel set will allow for a better fit and a lighter set up.
We consult the owner of Mellow Velo the following day regarding fit. Luck would have it, that at that exact moment, a customer brings a Soma B-side into the shop. It’s the exact size we are looking for. We ask the customer if Liz can try it out. She rides around the parking lot. Much more room between handle bar and knees. We decide to go for it and ask the shop owner to order a frame but everyone is out of stock in the size we need. Unable to wait longer, we get the cranks and move on to Albuquerque loaded with ideas.
In Albuquerque, we find out that the frame could be a month out. Maybe more. We work with another bike shop to try and improve the fit instead of swapping frames. A new seat post and stem move Liz forward on the bike and create more room between hands and knees. New cranks are installed at Esperanza Community Bike Shop. It’s a quick solution that will be tested in the coming weeks.
My bike sees upgrades as well. A new RockShox Reba RL shock for the front and a modified Salsa Anything Cage HD for the down tube. A sawzall makes for quick work removing part of the cage that interferes with the front chain rings. Clearance with the front shock is tested by draining it of all air pressure and bottoming out the suspension. A few well placed dents are made in a 64 oz Gatorade bottle. Everything fits. I can carry 2 liters in the new cage where I previously had 0.7 liters. Liz’s bike gets the same mod for water. No new shock for her yet. We want to test the new fit. If it works, a new shock is in her future. If not, a new frame.
As for the shock pump that one is advised to carry with air suspension… it’s getting tossed. I’ll use the bike pump we already carry if there is ever a need to add air in an emergency. I’m already developing an SOP (standard operating procedure) where I can set the shock pressure accurately without a gauge.