Friday, May 27, 2016

Long Term Test: 2012 Orbea Orca Bronze post #3

Third update
Current mileage: 604.3

Lately, my riding has focused on a lot of speed and climbing work. I have started participating in a local criterium to try to gain some racing experience and a temporary relocation to my in-law's place to house sit for them while they were away on travel means a lot of opportunity to focus on hills.

In the criterium, it is hard not to get equipment envy. There are a lot of people sporting some serious equipment and a few sponsored teams come out to use the ride as a part of their training regimen. The actual racing is not that exciting as the same handful of riders seem to always be in or near the top of the heap. However, from an educational perspective, it is helpful to not only understand more about bunch start racing, but also better understand my body's limitations at the moment and the limitations of my equipment. On the equipment front, the Orca has proven slightly outmatched, although not necessarily because of the frame, but rather more because of the other hardware attached to the frame. Most people riding in this crit have clearly been doing it for a long while and are sporting aero wheels or, at the very least, much more expensive wheel sets than the Axioms that are on my bike. Still, since this was intended to be a learning experience for me, I do not feel the least bit concerned about where I place and am just happy to have the opportunity to take part.

As for riding the hills, the Orca has both positives and negatives compared with the K2 that it replaced. If nothing else, the carbon fiber bike makes it significantly lighter. The complete bike weighs around 18.5 pounds, which is nearly 7 lbs lighter than the aluminum frame bike that it replaced. That makes going up even steep hills feel significantly less strenuous. However, the one drawback compared to that old aluminum frame bike is the fact that the K2 had a triple crank set and the Orca has a compact double. That extra set of gears, should not make that much of a difference, but there are definitely times when a few extra ratios would be helpful to have. Still, having pushed it hard the last few weeks on the hills, I am definitely able to appreciate the greater stiffness that carbon fiber offers and the smoother shifting of the Ultegra components.

Hopefully there will be a lot more riding to be done this summer.