Sunday 27 November 2011

I've gone and done something silly

Right, enough of all the rambling on about old bikes and new bikes. When it comes down to it, it's not about having, it's about doing.

Last year we did Land's End to John O'Groats. That was a challenge - seven months of planning and training, team bonding sportives, charity fundraising, outfit buying and finally the eight days of riding themselves. It was, to me, epic.

This year has been indifferent - a crash and eight weeks off the bike, a couple of sportives, my first big mountain road riding - nothing that really inspired me to knuckle down and concentrate, to get up an hour early through the winter and ride the long way to work, to drag my ass over to the big hills every week and spend every Saturday afternoon prone on the sofa wearing leg squeezing tights. I didn't even shave my legs.

Next year will be different. I've entered something silly. The Haute Route.

Columbiere. Madeleine. Glandon. Alpe D'Huez. Alpe D'Huez again. Izoard. Cime de la Bonette. And a few others.

Seven stages. Distances of 120km, 105km, 136km, 14km (up the Alpe), 136km, 98km, 171km. Ascents of 2700m, 2700m, 4700m(!), 1000m (in 14km, up the Alpe), 3700m, 3200m, 2900m.

I think that counts as epic. I have three goals for this.

1. To get to the finish, i.e. be riding on the last day
2. To complete every stage within whatever time limits are set
3. To have a final position in the top half of my category. This is probably a bit of a "stretch" goal.

Preparation so far has consisted of picking out three other training events, booking a week in the Dolomites, putting together a high level plan and buying some new climbing wheels.

Oh, and the three days after I entered I got up an hour early and rode the long way into work.

Hell, I might even shave my legs again.

Friday 4 November 2011

New bike, new bike!

Well, I've finally sold my track bike. A combination of the difficulty in getting to the track combined with a hunk of metal and ten screws in my collarbone convinced me to let it go.

Still,  you can't go through life with only six bikes, so I had to order another one. For a while I've been thinking about something to ride on the road in the winter. In the past I've used a combination of the Allez with Crud Road Racer guards, or the Scandal with slick tyres for when it got really messy and a bit more grip and disc brakes felt that little bit safer. I've also been thinking about a "bimble bike" - something that looks pretty and I don't mind riding slowly on. I always feel a bit odd doing gentle recovery rides on a carbon race bike.

Fate intervened and I was sent an email from Planet X, which included a build of their steel cross-ish frame, with disc brakes. Clearance for 32mm tyres, mudguard and rack mounts, plus it looks pleasingly retro. It's called a Kaffenback, because you can use it for going to the caf(e) and back.

Like this.

It's a kind of metallic tan colour, bronze maybe? Contrast gold panels with white logos. Black bits. To me, it just looked right.

Tonight was the first ride (I'm not counting going up and down the road on the day it arrived to get the position right). It's been foul all day - windy, rainy, thunderstorms. The roads are covered in puddles, leaves, mud and general autumn crap. Ideal then.

I couldn't believe how smooth it is. I'm sure it's 99% down to the tyres but in my head I'll attribute it to it being steel and designed by master craftsmen in Yorkshire. Or somewhere like that. I was confident on the messy roads, the brakes worked, the mudguards guarded (...and rattled, but that's sorted now) and you know what? I felt great riding it at full on bimble pace.

Finally, I have a "recovery ride" bike. Now that's niche.