I took the Rawland out for it's maiden voyage this evening after work. It was a great night, about 80 deg, low humidity, and a slight west wind. I left Northfield and headed west out into the sun. The gravel is about perfect right now, just tacky enough to be hard, but not so wet as to be draining. The roads west of town are very narrow, only about a lane and a half at most, and are full of small rolling hills. The sun was setting into a bank of large dark blue clouds. The wind was pretty steady, but it was nice to have something to go into. I rode for about 6 miles or so west, turning north to avoid getting onto the busy roads out near the interstate. From there it's about another 6 mile jog north to the road east around the north side of town.
Here's where it got interesting. About 3 miles into the east leg, there were dogs. At this point, I had ridden about 18 miles at a sprint pace, and I was really feeling it. Two large German shepherds came running out of the back of a farmyard towards me first. I saw these coming, and I was already about even with them in a big ring sprint by the time they hit the road. I was able to pull away from them pretty easily. My quads were really starting to feel it now, and I was just ready to be home. The next pair of dogs were a lot worse. Two chocolate labs were sitting aside the road about two blocks ahead of me. As soon as they saw me coming, the ran towards me. I started out on their side of the road, swerving towards the opposite ditch to give myself some more room to get around them. They chased for awhile, until there owner yelled at them to try and get them to come back. I was very tempted to yell very bad things at them, but I didn't. The last dog was the most tenacious, and it was the little one. Some small white puffy thing chased me all over the road for about 4 blocks. I was really worn out after the two first sets of dogs, and this little thing just had me. It did break off eventually, but damn. I think I'll be getting some pepper spray next week, maybe two cans.
Brandon has been gone since Thursday. He's representing the shop at the annual Trek World dealer show. With no riding for four days, and working two rather busy days in the shop alone, I really needed the ride. I've ridden the Rawland around town quite a bit to shake the bugs out of it. I have really been pretty impressed with the bike so far. There is a little tow overlap, I was a bit presumptuous the other day about that. It only showed itself in the last of the night's hills around St Olaf, and I was so beat by then it was really my fault. The bike is really smooth, and the fork and rear end really compliment each other. The position of the flats of the bars level with the seat really make the bike quite comfortable, yet the drops are low enough to break the wind rather effectively. Overall, the frameset is working better than I had hoped, and the components really work to make the most of the bike's assets.
I'll have more and some pics later, but I'm off to bed.