It’s certainly an odd comparison to make but your first ride on a new bike is a bit like your first cigarette: subsequent ones just never come close to being as good. And so it was that I took El Naranja for her inaugural roll around the way on a 12.39-mile roundabout route that’s pretty much become a standard for me — and she performed flawlessly. I didn’t have to make so much as even a minor adjustment to the seat, bars, or brakes. She just felt totally right.

Here’s a minute-long snippet of real-time video I got while happily we rolled on the LA River Bikeway through Atwater Village:

As a bonus, a little further downstream in Elysian Valley, what raptor should I find in the branches of the same dead tree upon which I saw one last month? Why a rare osprey, of course — perhaps the very same one.

In light of this repeat sighting, I’ve put forth an unofficial motion seconded by the big bird to rename the bare arbor “Osprey Tree.” All those in favor say “aye.” AYE. All those opposed… [crickets chirping].  The motion carries. Long may Osprey Tree  stand.

But back to El Naranja. I could immediately feel the difference provided by the 52-tooth chainring, both in the additional effort getting going from full stops and also the payoff of flying a little bit faster at the other end. Having cranked a 48’er for almost four years (after several years prior to that with a 53-toother on The Phoenix), I was quick to rationalize that it wouldn’t be too bad, and it wasn’t. But just to be sure to reacquaint my legs with the extra work required to crank so many teeth around while going uphill, I gave us an incline, coming up Stadium Way past the old Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Center to Elysian Park Avenue, and I got to the top of it fine. It’s only an elevation gain of about 200 feet over half a mile, but it’ll get your heartrate up. For a REAL test, I’ll have to take El Naranja up the backside of the “rollercoaster” in Griffith Park.