Saturday, 3 October 2015

New bike, first club ride, OMG it doesn't get better than this...

Riding a bike is a pure joy, riding with mates is better and riding a brand spanking new dream machine with your mates is as good as it gets. That's saying a lot giving that this has been one of the best weeks of my life.

Let's deal with the bike first. Yes that's the bike in C&DCycles which I've been lusting after for months and that until Wednesday I thought had been purchased by someone else. Well actually it had. My wonderful wife did what she does and found a way to get me my dream bike. She rallied the whole family and what you're looking at is the combined efforts of three generations of my extended family clubbing together and getting this for my birthday and Christmas present. I had no idea about any of this until Wednesday. Lee had been wondering about when to let me have the bike given that my birthday is in November and during those months it will be wrapped up and safe from any winter weather mishaps. 

At the same time my Dad's old steel triple, the bike that got me started in Road riding was with Bob Mitchell, the man who'd built it. Bob had let me know that there was no way of getting the stuck seat post out without breaking the frame and as such he would now need to perform a frame repair. The price to achieve this was under discussion and so I broached the subject with Lee. After some toing and froing she lent forward and whispered in my ear: "we've bought you THAT bike." I was gobsmacked and really emotional. A quick phonecall to Bob to explain the situation also went better than I'd expected. Bob has offered to buy the frame and repair it as he wants to get back into framebuilding. He's confident he can sell it on to another massive man of my Dad's proportions. For me that's win win. I will use the proceeds from that bike to get mudguards for Clive and turn him into my dedicated winter bike. 

So the cat was out of the bag and Andy in the shop was rushed into getting the bike ready for me to take home yesterday. I'm very grateful. My only regret is that my suddenly incredibly work schedule meant we didn't have time to do even the most basic of bike fits. Right now I've guessed the saddle height based on a comparison with Clive. That doesn't really feel a satisfactory way to set up a bike of this quality. I've named the bike Whanau (Far-Now) which is Maori for extended family. I'm hoping Andy Pendred can design me a frame sticker to get that on the bike. 

The other thing that has happened to me recently is I've got a new job. I posted both of these things in a joint message on Facebook and I was overwhelmed by the response. I can't remember another time when I've had so many likes or positive comments. The comments kept flowing at work too and by Thursday evening I was so emotional my hands were shaking trying to type and I was struggling to concentrate.

Whanau ready to go

Whanau from the front

Riding to the shop I was struck by how different this bike is from my old road bike. The weight difference is marked and you can feel the extra stiffness. When I can rid it properly it's easy to see how it will go quicker. On Rockingham Road I saw Nathan walking his dogs and we exchanged pleasantries with my first remark of the day about the bike. Arriving at the shop there were loads of complimentary comments. The bike looks great. It wasn't just me with a new bike though. Andy also has a new bike, a rather splendid Boardman Air 9.8 in patriotic colours. What a great way to show your support to the home nations during this fantastic Rugby World Cup.

For the third week running I set off with the fast group and that went rather well for the first few miles. I couldn't hold my Giant Propel back going into Cransley and probably made my biggest mistake of the day by blasting to the front of the group and staying there for way too long. Predictably the first time we had to go up the tiniest incline I was dropped and didn't catch up again until Raunds, when they waited for me. The pattern repeated for the whole ride. In fact it felt like I was struggling more than I did on Clive. No shocks there, a new bike takes time to get used to. However when you look at my Strava the average is down on last weeks but there's loads of PR's confirming the bike is very quick. I also think all that emotion might be a factor.

Turning right towards Denford

One of the times I did actually keep up was from Hargrave to Denford. Riding through Denford we were photographed by Andy Pendred's Mum. The lads insisted on putting me on the front for this, which I grateful for. Then we got held up going through Thrapston. After that I just couldn't keep up at all. The feel in my legs was very odd and I felt like I'd been using different muscles. This makes sense really. I caught up with Ashley and Stuart in Warkton because Ashley had a crash. They had to break hard behind a car that stopped quickly going down the hill with Ashley running into the back of Stuart and then the car. Thankfully no apparent damage was caused to either riders or bikes. Ashley though was well shaken,which is understandable for our youngest rider. During the spells I was able to keep up the comments about the bike continued and even more so everyone reminded me how lucky I am to have such a wonderful wife. I pointed out I've bought flowers but it would seem that club consensus is that it's really not enough!

Back at the shop there's a new system in place with a tea/coffee machine replacing the old tea pot. There was also cake but as no one explained this was Andy's birthday cake we didn't realise we were supposed to wait. I wish I'd known it was Andy's birthday on Monday. I would have commissioned the queen of cakes to do a Lord Vader cake because he really does a lot for us as a club. The banter flowed and for reasons of decency I think that's best left there.

On the way home my legs were jelly. I had nothing left at all. Given that I'd ridden a lighter, more responsive bike than I've been used to I found this weird. But it's not really is it? As I said it felt like I was using different muscles. I suspect the reason for this is frame geometry. Below is the geometry for my Giant Propel and underneath that for my Forme Longcliffe. The longcliffe has 'sports comfort geometry,' on the frame. The point is, it's different! I anticipate as I get used to my new bike and continue to get closer to my target weight (another 2lbs off this week,) I'm going to get quicker.

All that gubbins should not stand in the way of pointing out I love riding my new bike. I can't wait to get out on it again.
Happy Pedaling!


M/L (54.5)73.072.557.



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