I read a lot of Jane Austen. (Confession… I mean an exorbitant amount.) I love the feeling of being transported to a time when people celebrate one’s coming of age with a ball and tea is a time of day not to be messed with; traveling to the next town over is a big event and dowries mean everything. A close second to my love of reading Austen novels is watching the film adaptations of her stories. In one of my favorite movie versions of “Mansfield Park” the director did an amazing job of showing the two worlds the protagonist, Fanny Price, straddles – the rundown lower class world of her biological parents and the high-brow sophisticated world of her maternal aunts who married much wealthier gentleman. On her first journey between the two, we see Ms. Price traveling in a carriage for what seems like days from her drab childhood home to the beautiful estate at Mansfield Park. You know what struck me as I watched this sequence of events? The wheels. The wheels on the carriage were wooden and frail and vulnerable to rocks and potholes and the like. What must it have been like to ride in a carriage with wooden wheels?!
Wooden discs served as some of the earliest wheels in 3500BCE. Fifteen hundred years later spoked-wooden wheels were used on war chariots to make them lighter and more efficient and many, many centuries later in the 1700s, metal wheels were introduced because wooden wheels could not handle the strain of carrying heavy artillery. The locomotive wheel was invented in the early 1800s and in 1802 wire spokes were patented. Pneumatic tires, that we are probably most familiar with today with their air filled compartments, were improved upon and finally patented in the mid-1800s. With each new incarnation of the wheel, transportation became more efficient, more productive, and more resilient. Thinking about ancient wheels and the wooden contraptions that were ubiquitous in Austen’s time, makes me appreciate just how far we’ve come.
On Sunday, August 24th I competed in Ironman Louisville. I exited the water as the 9th female pro and by mile 22 of the 112 mile bike leg I was up to 4th place. Everything clicked. My Argon 18 E-118 was humming and my ENVE Composite 8.9 clinchers were absolute perfection. Since starting out in this sport in late 2008, I have ridden more wheels than I can remember; I couldn’t even name them if I tried. I don’t know the science behind what goes into making the perfect wheel but I know what an amazing ride feels like and I’m ecstatic to say ENVE Composites has made that attainable. I had the fastest female bike split among finishers at Ironman Louisville; I attribute much of that to endless hours of training, power intervals, and a long history in aerobic sports. But I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the role my ENVE wheels had on my bike split. Simply put the wheels are aero, durable, attractive, and, most importantly, FAST. I have never felt more confident on a set of wheels. I am truly honored to ride these wheels and to call ENVE a sponsor.
Every once in a while as I’m riding along on my 8.9 clinchers, I wonder what those wooden wheels of “Mansfield Park” would have felt like. I’m not sure, but I do know that Jane Austen would be jealous. Ride on.