Flight of fancy

Displaying photo.JPG Ace addition: the new crankset gets the traditional weigh-in in my kitchen

Map reference: home spinning, and quick Richmond Park flip

Carbs and caffeine: homemade chocolate chip cake seems to be disappearing, but the kids are home…

In the last four days since we got back from Flanders, I’ve done 125km, but only 18k outside. Why? The sun is shining, the bike is in perfect condition, I’m not injured … no, it’s the school holidays. I’ve been hopping on the turbo every morning after Husband leaves for work, and ploughing through my turbo challenges, pedalling between an hour and 90 mins, at a rate of 30k/h. Very, very dull.

But I do have to tell you about my Richmond Park flip on Tuesday. I left my bike at Velosport http://www.velosport.co.uk/ over the Easter weekend, along with a new crankset (Dura-Ace with shorter cranks than standard, at 170cm, and 11-speed cassette), Dura-Ace Shimano brakes and the beautiful 38cm 3T handlebars that I introduced in a previous blog. Velosport fitted all this for £40, which impressed me.

But what impressed me more was the ride afterwards. In fact it was less like cycling and more like flying. I don’t know whether being forced off the training for a few days while we were away left me extra fresh, but my Strava (for the uninitiated, it’s a website that compares your ride to previous rides, and to other people) gave me 70 pieces of bling, composed of strings of personal bests. And it felt blingy all the way round.

The first thing I noticed on leaving the shop were the new brakes. To actually be able to feel the pads engage is a delight. No excuses now, I’m going to have to improve my descents.

Once I got to the park and could stretch my legs, the bike just seemed to take off. Was it the fresh legs? Or was it the shorter cranks? Whatever it was, the sensation of flying was wonderful, peeling past people, and sensing Husband slipping off the back (with his tired legs, I will concede). Pure, childish joy. This is why cycle is addictive.

The final change puzzled me at first. There are little mini bricked humps as you pass by Ham Gate towards Pembroke Lodge, travelling clockwise, and the bike was so smooth over them that I started looking at my tyres, wondering whether they were flat. I hadn’t checked them when I picked up the bike. Surely the shop would check them, I fretted? Then I remembered my bars are now carbon. I was, for the first time, getting the full carbon experience. And now I get it. Over distance, the smoothness will make a huge difference, it isn’t just the weight, it’s the ride.

So the bike is finished. Apart from changing the bottle cages – I really hate the silly Italian ones I was palmed off with a few weeks ago, I won’t be visiting that shop again – it is as light as I can possibly justify. Now it’s all down to me.

Note to self: call in some favours, you need to get rid of the kids and get out.

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