What I learned from this endeavor is to shop used...if you spend some time at it, you'll locate rides that never really saw road time; bikes that are waiting for riders like you and me.
I set this bike up with a dropped handlebar stem (4 position option), moved my Shimano pedals from the Felt to the Roubaix, transfered the Topeak seat bag, then adjusted the seat's height and angle to mimic my Felt.
Arrived at the start almost an hour early, as I thought several micro-adjustments would be needed to dial in the ride. I was on the thing for about two minutes and everything fit like a glove. No modifications needed. It was cold and sunny, so I sat in my vehicle and read a Met-RX propaganda magazine.
The ride was smooth and highly aerobic. We had to evade a few dogs but most of the sailing was clear. I learned a bunch about 1) riding a carbon frame and 2) compact crank gears and Shimano 105 shifting.
Maybe I have marketing on the brain, but the Specialized offers a stiff ride, yet soaks up the vibration on secondary roads...could it be the Zertz inserts in the fork and rear chainstays?
And riding the compact crank...I've been on triples for over a decade and I now understand that's like taking a knife to a gunfight. The compact crank with 105 offers precise shifts, more gear options across one chainring, and most important less jumping across chainrings. More efficient, better gear choices, and more power to the ground.
I coasted into the finish with the the lead pack of riders. Then we headed into Wilkesboro for some fellowship and Mexican lunch. Life is pretty sweet right now and I'm not taking any of it for granted. New ride, great riding buddies, and a body that can still take the torque. Thank you Lord.