Punctures, like buses (or sagacious oriental apes), appear to visit themselves upon me in batches of three, so I was more put out by the prospect of sustaining further damage than I was about fixing this singular perforation. It was your run-of the-mill sort of puncture: a small, almost central intrusion – just one of those things. I hadn't expected it to be anything else, but was glad to know that it hadn't been caused by the bicycle itself: an errable spoke or suchlike.
It was Tuesday before I finally had the opportunity to conceive what this Carlos was really made of, and it appeared to be good stuff, save for a few entirely corrigible concerns. Before departing on my test-run, I had raised the saddle by a couple of inches. It’s a deceptive exercise, raising a saddle, and it soon became clear that I had not heightened it nearly enough. Having not thought to take a spanner with me on that maiden voyage, I was obliged to spend a fair bit of time out of the saddle. This was a basic error that I admonished myself for.
The handlebars were angled a little awkwardly, too – another minor quibble easily remedied. At worst, I envisaged having to remove the bar-tape and adjust the position of the bake levers to invoke a more relaxed geometry, but I wasn't going to rush into anything.
The optical illusions that had plagued me now gradually shifted into focus. The bottom bracket was lower on the Carlos than it was on the Jamis Beatnik, accounting for their apparent – but inaccurate – similarity of stature. I concluded that if the stand-over of any given bicycle is correct, and the top-tube sits the requisite couple of inches below the crotch, then the bike probably fits. The saddle, seat-post and handlebars are designed for adjustment, it’s simply a case of playing around with them until one feels comfortable – crises over. I couldn't complain. Indeed, I was content with what my £295 had delivered and looked forward to taming my steed over the coming months.
It’s been cold of late but the wet weather has abated. The wind continues to be an irritating presence - it is autumn, after all - but there's been nothing to stop me from getting out there and riding my new bike. The sun has even been moved to put in a few appearances providing the perfect conditions for a spot of bicycle portraiture. (At this time of the year, the sun sits quite low in the sky, allowing for good pictures throughout much of the day.) I don’t expect such clemency to hold out for much longer, and it won’t be long before Carlos is retired for the winter, whereupon I shall be running instead.
So sit back and relax, then, and take a look at these pictures, taken in far from ideal conditions, but tweaked in Picassa to make them just about passable:
[Images: author's own]