Saturday 24 December 2022

New bike, first impressions.

new bike

I picked up my new bike during a really cold period in Dec. Way too icy to risk riding. Link to that post. So I had to walk past it to the turbo trainer for a whole week. Each time wondering if the weather would improve by the weekend.

The sparkly iridescent midnight holographic colour scheme as it's called looks good. It should be even better in full sunlight. It got lots of complements from the club. Depending on the angle of light you can see purple, green and blue; maybe more will show themselves as the days get brighter.

From the first few yards it felt efficient; that's the best word for it. The bike reacts to every input much more keenly. It accelerates and climbs more easily; cornering feels more stable. 

It's lighter so that will account for some of the improvement, the frame is stiffer and it's more aerodynamic. The geometry is more race focused, which gives the cornering the extra sharpness. But it's not too extreme, even quite strong sidewinds don't throw it off line. I can feel road imperfections more acutely, not so much I dread riding it.

The roads were wet, with some big puddles; at one point the road was flooded to a depth of around a foot. Having disc brakes really paid dividends over the rim brakes of my previous road bike.

I know it's only the first sixty miles; but it's already delivered what I'd hoped it would. I can't wait to attack the time trials next year, and go touring on it. 

It's really lifted my spirits, and restored my mojo.

Friday 23 December 2022

19 days

December has been grim, I have hardly been outside. I've ridden on the trainer for thirteen days. Mostly because of the weather. I'm more risk averse than I used to be, a little snow didn't always stop me.

snow bike pound
a picture from a time when I did take risks

But now it does, and I think for good reason. Earlier in the month I thought six days was a long time to be stuck indoors. The monthly miles have nosedived as has my motivation. I've missed a few days in the garage. Sometimes I was busy; I could still have fittted in a ten mile session, but I didn't.

Now it's warmed up the heavy, persistant rain has returned. I hope this won't stop me riding over the Christmas period.

Oxted cycling club have some rides organised for tomorrow. I also intend get out every day for the rest of the year. 

Hopefully my motivation will return.

Sunday 18 December 2022

New bike day

My last brand new bike was a Raleigh Chopper.

Raleigh Chopper

Since then bikes have been secondhand. My brother gave me a Peugeot mountain bike, which was replaced with a two year old Kona Blast. Next was a very old Carrera road bike. I bought the Giant Defy in May 2019, it's now ten years old.

Over the years my priorities have changed: I want to compete in time trials, ride faster and further, and have better brakes. While making the latest steed faster, this years carbon wheels have been a slight backwards step as far as stopping is concerned, especially in the wet. 

I have been saving a long time for this purchase. I sold most of my photography gear to fund it as well. It wasn't getting used and was loosing value as technology improved. I still have a small digital camera and lenses that will work with Nikon film cameras so I haven't severed all links with that hobby. Hiring equipment is easy should the need arise.

I'm not sure how much value the Defy has, the wheels are still worth a fair bit. I should think someone from my club will buy them.

The new bike is a fairly custom build, because I had some specific parts in mind. Standard sizing from a mainstream manufacturer would have supplied handlebars that were too wide, and the price point would have compromised on the type of wheels I wanted. I avoided additional purchases and having to sell the unused parts. I was also able to tweak other parts of the bike to improve the fit. The stem, it joins the handlebars to the forks, comes in many lengths. Ross had a few for me to try.

This whole process is another reason to consider your local bike shop. It's not always cheaper to buy online or from a chain store. I don't expect any problems, but if there are I'm not reliant on support over the phone or email. He is just a very short walk from my house.

The frame is from LavitaVelo the wheels are from Hunt, both UK based. The rest is from the usual suspects. Ross at Ross Cycles spec'd it after we chatted about what I wanted.

He also took pictures at various stages of the build. Another option only open to you if using a bespoke or local bike shop. 

to slam or not to slam
to slam or not to slam

When I've ridden it for a few miles we can alter the handlebar and saddle height. Swap the stem as well if needed.

bike nearly finished
bike nearly finished

bike build finished

I haven't ridden it yet; way too icy outside. A review will follow.

Sunday 4 December 2022

A week on the trainer

restorative coffee

For over a year I have ridden the trainer in the garage after work. No more mixing with impatient commuters for me.

The trouble is I become stir crazy by the time I've completed the Friday night session. Saturday with the Oxted CC is eagerly anticipated. But this weekend I was busy first thing. I got home at midday; go out or not? By the time shopping and lunch had been completed it was starting to get late, and my thoughts turned to not being out after dark. So it was a forty minute stationary trip. A bit of a break to write some words here and then back out at five for my normal ten miles.

Sunday morning is usually a visit to Westerham for coffee with Matt. Overnight was very cold, down to around two degrees. It was not going to be much warmer with the rising of the sun, so I suggested we should meet in Tatsfield at 09:30. Running very late meant I took the road bike so only arrived shortly after the arranged time. The eight miles being covered in thirty minutes.

Matt had just ordered his tea and cake, it didn't take very long for my coffee to be brewed. Our usual chat about this at that ensued. I felt so relaxed, it had to have been being outside, on my bike. I love riding the mountain bike: it soaks up the ruts of poorly maintained roads, the disk brakes are dependable and the thicker tyres are a little less puncture prone. But the road bike is so much more responsive and fun to ride. In the dry the brakes are less of a disadvantage as well. 

Whilst riding I often imagine myself in a job where I'm paid to be out on my bike, or to write blogs and articles.  Maybe Rapha, Le Col etc will read this and call me; fingers crossed.

Until they do I'll produce content for the pleasure of it.