Friday, 26 February 2016

Because you know it's all about the Bike!

Looking forward to the Hathersage Hilly triathlon in July, I decided to have a tentative go on a road bike.  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my mtb (mountain bike), and in the past have been known to hold a negative view of roadies - dangerous roads, bad drivers and all that Lycra!

Anyway, I had a change of heart when I realised that even if I put slicks (thinner, smoother tyres) on my mtb, I would still be at a disadvantage due to the weight and gearing in comparison to the road bikes.  Obviously I'm not setting out to win any prizes, but, and call me competitive, you wouldn't ride a shire horse round the Grand National against the thoroughbreds now would you?


Sticking with the horse analogy, I managed to be fortunate enough to borrow a friends road bike to try.  When sitting astride the light-as-a-feather bike, it felt like there was "nothing in front", a bit like riding a dainty show pony after coming off a traditional cob.  And then there were the drops! OMG the position of bum in the air, hunchback was not a great feeling to start with.  In fact, it was with a red face that I set off to the end of my cul-de-sac wobbling about like a wally before realising that the brakes were nowhere to be seen and the bloody thing didn't turn! Honestly it was actually quite scary - what the hell was I doing on this death trap! I had to "balance bike" like my three year old on my tip toes back to the house as it is on a slight downhill!

Fortunately, as with running, Caz came to my rescue and arrived to show me the ropes. Now, there is more to road biking than you would think - for instance, visors on helmets - are a no, backpacks - also no and V-brakes are still a thing! Who knew I was such a mtb type! (Note - since writing this post, Caz asked if the title referred to rule #4 of the Velominati "The Rules" - I had no clue what she meant until I read her link to "The Rules" and I now understand and can reference to said rules for the rest of this post!) Fwiw my title came to me to the tune of Meghan Trainors "All about the Bass".

Anyway, we set off tentatively up the hill from my house and Caz explained about the gears and the brakes, and the drops!  After about 3 laps of our estate I felt much more confident and was even using the drops. One thing I did notice though was my lower back beginning to ache a bit.  The best thing about it was going uphill, I noticed that I felt like I was really pulling away and getting some good speed up, not like the mtb where your legs just go ten to the dozen and you get nowhere fast.  

Hmm, had I started up a new obsession? I took the bike to The Bike Factory and asked the lads to see if it fit me properly, the answer was no, it was too big and probably why my back was hurting.  So I returned the bike to my friend and arranged to try another one from the shop.


Fred (the owner) was really kind and lent me a brand new Scott Speedster 60 in XS (49cm frame) size to try.  They kitted it out with spd pedals, which I use on my mtb, and off I went with some friends for a proper road bike ride. I noticed straight away that this bike did fit me better.  I still felt a little wobbly when I tried to signal, for example, or stand up to pedal, but I was soon feeling much more comfortable and we tackled some decent hills.  I felt like there was nowhere to go when in the easiest gear going up a particularly evil incline and wondered if that would be problematic on long rides with tired legs...

Another worrying thing was that I found the brake levers miles too far away for my fingers to reach, so that, when I was using the drops, I had to push my hand and thumb forward to stretch my fingers to the levers.  A bit disconcerting when flying bum high down a steep and narrow road! 

On my return to the shop Rob - the Manager, managed to adjust the brake levers so that they were much more reachable and it was with reluctance that I handed it back.  I enquired about the price of this bike and went off to have a think.  My plan was to buy a half decent second-hand bike, which Fred had offered to help source.  But the Scott was so lovely and shiny and obviously fit me well as I had no aches or pains whatsoever...eek!

I had a chat with Mr A about my birthday coming up (you know where I'm going with this right...) and he said if I liked it I could buy the Scott! Hurrah I was so excited! So I went back to see Fred the next day and discussed the bike. I asked about the gearing and one of the lads said I could have a bigger cog on the back thus making the gears easier up steeper hills - so I agreed that this would be a good idea.  I also needed a few accessories like a bottle and cage, a pump and a little seat post bag for a spare tube and a light (no need for a backpack see!).  


Here I am on my maiden voyage! Sporting a bargain Aldi Jersey (£4.99!)
The next day (today!) I have collected the bike.  It looks wonderful! I can't wait to ride it.  So watch this space for more adventures - of a roadie kind!

I think my mtb may be sulking at me so I am going to ride that next week - I feel less guilty since finding out about the N+1 rule (google it).

I'm now off to peruse the world of road biking - turbo trainers, jerseys, gilets, helmets... oh dear, what have I started!?