So for all those of you that have been kindly keeping an eye on my progress you will know that i have bought my bike for Route 66. It was a struggle deciding whether to go for the dependable but heavier and possibly slower touring cycle - specifically made for long distance rides or the fast sleek, lovely road bike!
Head ruled heart and I went for a Dawes Touring Galaxy AL13 - picked it up Sunday and today I took it out properly for the first time. I haven't yet fitted a cycle computer to it so had no idea how fast I was going or how far i had gone so that left me with just how I felt about it to worry about. Map my ride was tracking my progress which I have also posted up on my facebook page! www.facebook.com/Route66LHSCycle This is my workout on Map my Ride :
So initial impressions....
Well first I had to get used to changing gears all over again as on my old Dawes they are located on the frame. These were located (as with all modern bikes) on the handlebars. Getting used to this wasn't too bad, although did result in one hairy moment where I was trying to change gear and brake whilst coming up to a roundabout and unclipping from my pedal... Didn't fall off though it was a close run thing!
Initially the bike felt heavier and more unwieldy than my old Dawes, which considering my old bike is steel framed was a surprise. The bike is built for a more upright position but i spent most of my time on the drops (the part of the handlebars that curves round on a road bike) which is what i am used to doing - only problem is on long rides - riding with your hands on the hoods, (on the top of the bars) is considered to be a better position for all day riding. this means that you are less aerodynamic but unless you are racing or going into a particularly bad headwind, this shouldn't be a huge consideration.
By the end of the ride, i still felt a bit disappointed in the handling of the bike and how it felt. Now i know I'm not racing across America, but I've still got to cover a fair amount of distance and a lot of the mental positivity for me is convincing yourself you are going along at a decent speed so the mental consideration of this bike is a big one.
The bike is a bit rattly which is due to the mudguards - considering the weather throughout USA at the time i am going is supposed to be good all the way along - i could risk removing them. Why you ask?? Well it's all very well rattling along for an hour or two but this could very well grate endlessly on my nerves by week 4- another mental positivity thing to consider - when I'm already broken I won't need something else to piss me off!!
Now it may seem as though I'm concentrating on the negatives, picking holes in the details... yes I am, I agree. so now for the positives.
1st up.... the gears shifted well and when i got the hang of it, i like the new positioning of the gears. Going uphill didn't seem very bad. The pedaling action is smooth and lends itself to spinning up hills - usually with a couple of flicks of the gears down though!! This might not mean much to non- bike-riders. It rode the bumps of the Wokingham road in Reading well - no mean feat, and the saddle was reasonably comfortable - though I will probably swop it for my old one (the one i have 'broken' in.)
It might just be a case of getting used to the feel of a different bike and then i will be happy as larry again - or I might have to load it up with kit and then I will feel how good it is at what it is made for... or i might have to go on a very long day or two ride and then feel how well i and it cope with that before I'm sold on it.
The trouble is... in my heart of hearts ... I wanted the sleek shiny, lovely fast road bike. But that wouldn't be sensible would it????
So I got home and after a slight delay, stopped the tracking on the Map my Ride app and looked at the data. i was pleasantly surprised. I had managed 13 miles without mishap, the speeds weren't as dire as I thought they were and total ride time (including stops for traffic lights/trains crossing and getting my bike back into the shed) was reasonable. So maybe the bike isn't as bad as it feels and maybe it's just my head wishing I was on the other bike.
So maybe the sensible choice was a good one after all..... or maybe you will find me back at the bike shop ordering the other one :)