Report: Brand New Owner Rides the V20 from Sebring, Florida to New Orleans

Maria's note:  Chris asked us to bring a Cruzbike V20 to the pre-pandemic Sebring, Florida races in February of this year.  He told us he planned to ride it from there to New Orleans.  I was a concerned and warned him that the V20 takes some getting used to.  Chris proved that the getting used to could happen during his 1000 mile journey to New Orleans.  Here's his write up of that experience. 

V20 Touring: Scary Fun

How long does it take to master the ride of a Cruzbike V20? It might depend on where you want to go.

From the February 2020 races at Sebring, Florida,  new V20 owner Chris Malloy rode his bike roughly 1000 miles to New Orleans. Not right away, of course. He practiced for a day.

Chris picked up his Cruzbike V20 at Sebring the day before the race. Robert helped him set it up. He took a few turns around the parking lot then headed back to his hotel, a ten mile ride. It was getting dark and there was plenty of traffic. Quite the introduction! The next morning he rode back to the track in the dark. A flat tire 50 meters from the start line had him changing the tube in the hotel lobby when the race started. Chris decided the light, thin racing tires would never survive his planned bike tour. Rather than race, he spent Saturday finding some tougher tires. The trip back to his hotel gave him a total of 30 miles on the bike.

That was enough to get him started. With Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) maps and his gear in Radical Designs panniers he headed west. The first day was 95 miles. It should have been 60 miles but one wrong turn is all it takes to make an adventure.

How was riding the fully loaded Cruzbike V20? The panniers riding low definitely stabilized the ride without making him proficient. For the next few days he walked the bike through crowded intersections, up steep climbs with no shoulder on the road (in Florida that means bridges) and any moderate climb where he lost momentum and started to wobble. Sometimes a short lapse of concentration produced wobbles while cruising. Approaching traffic always enhanced concentration.

“Enhanced concentration” meant maintaining an iron grip on the handlebars. That is not recommended. After a long day he couldn’t open his hands. When days began to routinely be 60-80 miles of riding, he practiced relaxing his grip and using palm pressure to hold a straight course. Also, with practice, balancing alternating foot pressure kept the effort of the hands and arms minimal. In Tallahassee, the bike lane tapers to nothing with city traffic. Riding the sidewalks up hills while avoiding fences, telephone poles and pedestrians made an obstacle course that might have been designed to provide a test of skill and instill a feeling of confidence. There was never any doubt of bike handling after that.

By the time Chris made Pensacola he was making 60 miles before lunch. The Cruzbike V20 is a racer no matter what you do with it. That speed paid off as the sun was setting on a coolish day on the gulf coast. The Adevnture Cycling route takes travelers to a ferry to cross from island to island. After another adventure in map reading Chris had an hour to go 20 miles to catch the last ferry run before nightfall. He made it just as the ferry was unloading cars, with a seven minute window before the next departure. He was soaked in sweat and shivering on the ferry, but he was ON the ferry.

The rest is standard touring comments. All the wildlife he saw was flat. The view to either side was trees and, in Gainesville, possibly Sandy Earl across the street in pink. The road surfaces varied from smooth to chip sealed and cratered. The narrow high pressure tires he was able to get at the last minute made for some rough riding but the almost horizontal position spread the vibration out to mere annoyance levels. There were some pursuing dogs on some county roads. These were porch potato dogs and he never actually saw any of them. With the V20’s cruising speed and virtual impossibility of looking back and down, he heard some yapping and the scuffing of little doggie feet before they gave up and returned to the porch.

The trip ended in New Orleans a few days after Mardi Gras. Chris dropped the Cruzbike at a bike shop for shipment. Amtrak finished the tour in relative luxury all the way to Oregon. In summary, if you want a fast tour the V20 will do the job.

If you want a moderate pace with more sightseeing get a bike with a more upright posture. (Editor's note: Like the Cruzbike S40 or the Cruzbike Q45 coming Fall 2020.)


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