Seattle’s Best: Finding the Sweet Spot


In general, my rule is simple. When in a city, head for the hills.

More often than not, of course, that means heading out of town. To the country.

That’s what makes Seattle something special.

Wherever I am in or near Seattle, I’m drawn to the city. Because it isn’t really city cycling. At least it doesn’t feel like it.

Memorial Day Weekend in Seattle is busy. In addition to festivals here and there, a few thousand youth volleyball players descend upon the University of Washington and other sites for tournaments. I had two playing.

Still, I managed to slip out for a nice chunk of riding, taking our New World Tourist with NuVinci from Bellevue to our dealer Montlake Bicycles.

First a shout out to Googlemaps, who actually delivered a route I could follow.

Still, it wasn’t long before I was at a crossroads, about to get onto the Mountain to Sound Trail and the I-90 Trail, and wasn’t exactly sure which was which.

Just in time, a fellow on his Felt breezed by. I asked if this was the way to Seattle. He nodded, then slowed.

Maybe it’s just me, but he slowed in a manner that made me think he thought my wheel size might make a difference, not in a I’ll wait for you for a moment manner.

I charged up to him in a snap, and might have snuck up a bit, since he didn’t hear me chink and clink through a series of gears to get up to speed.

We chatted a bit, and he said he’d take me to a point and explain the rest. Then he cranked it up a bit.

I jumped on it, and hung at his side. After a double take, he mentioned he did 75 miles the day before, 3,400 feet of climbing. Hadn’t really recovered yet.

A smirk slipped across my face. Making excuses, now? Really?

We zipped along the path for a spell, then he gave me directions and headed off. I realized the New World Tourist and NuVinci fit in here like a coffee house.

But that was just the beginning.

When I decided to explore Mercer Island a bit, the endless ups and downs of terrain challenged me.

OK, who am I kidding. I was lost on Mercer Island, not exactly sure which way the trail went. But the detour did make me realize a key factor for the NuVinci. I’m in control.

I decide if I want to stand up and crank, or take it easy while climbing in the saddle. I decide, not my gearing.

It took me a while to really grasp this concept. But it became painfully clear, or, shall I say, the absence of painfully clear, as I exited the trail and went for the Lake Washington Loop.

I went from the long flat ride across Lake Washington on the I-90 bridge to climbing a pitch as steep as a staircase.

All it took was a snap of the wrist, and little adjusting here and there, and I managed to keep my cadence right where I wanted it. No tendon popping or chain dropping back and forth. Nope, the sweet spot. Right where I wanted it.

I was in control.

From that point on, Seattle delivered even more than I could have imagined.

I’d forgotten these were the same roads I chased America’s best back in the mid-90s at the National Championships here.

It caught me as I glided through beneath the towering trees, remembering the moment Jeanne Golay exploded from the women’s field and went solo to a national title.

Later, zig-zagging into the residential section, I remember Bart Bowen escorting Kevin Livingston to a national championship.

By the time I hit Montlake, where I left the New World Tourist for Seattlites to test ride until July 15, I was floating on a cloud.

The way I do when I usually head for the hills.

Unless I’m in Seattle.

7 Responses

  1. Nice article Raz. What would it take to convert a Pocket Crusoe with a SRAM internal 3×9 to NuVinci?

    1. Here’s the word from head designer Rob English:
      You would need a new rear wheel with the NuVinci hub (which includes the
      shifter), then you could use the existing rear derailleur as a tensioner. This assumes
      you already have flat bars or H bars, since the NuVinci shifter won’t fit on drops.

      1. Thanks Rob. Leaving the long cage derailleur on seems like a shame. Does replacing it with something more purpose-built introduce other complications?

  2. One of our four select bikes is the New World Tourist Infinity Tour NuVinci and so far all those who have test-ridden this bike have commented on the quietness and ease of changing the “gears.” I am going on a 200 km tour with 10 other riders and can’t decide which of the demo select bikes I’ll take: the Llama, Pocket Rocket, Future’s belt-drive Tikit or the NWT NuVinci. I guess for the new and wow factor the NWT NuVinci is great, but for overall comfort, the Llama with Disc brakes and Big Apple tires would be better. But your article has made me think that the NuVinci might be the one. Thanks for your insights. Keep them coming, Raz.

    From Malaysia,
    Doc Andy

    1. Quick note to everyone that Doc Andy is our dealer in Malaysia, thus he’s a kid in a candy store. I personally own a Llama, sans disc brakes, but the New World Tourist with the NuVinci is sweet. You can’t go wrong.

      1. Raz,
        Indeed, I feel like a kid in a candy store. However my own tikit is out of the question as I think bigger tires are better. Pros and cons:

        1. Llama, large frame is my size, at 6 ‘ and 220 lbs. easier to sell a less-used demo.
        2. New, smooth nuvinci hub, has attachments for the trailer., medium frame nit big enough for me?
        3. Pocket Rocket–light and fast, have 3 requests to borrow for races, but if used would not be an ideal demo for short test-ris.
        4. Future Tikit–belt drive means lighter weight, but disappointed no hyperfold.

        So the ride is this weekend, advised not to take my family tandem traveller and can’t take a recumbemt trike, Azub Tricon, so I am leaning to the Llama or NWT. What will it be?

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