Thursday, 23 April 2009

Dr Foster....

..went to Gloucester, according to the nursery rhyme. And so, on the 4th April, did I. Except we went the long way round.

I was dead keen to start the day, since my new bike arrived the day before and I was itching to try it out. Not content with a gentle 20km shakedown, I took it out on Dr Fosters Spring Clean, an Audax starting near Tewkesbury, and measuring 200+ kilometers.

That bike is amazingly comfortable, and felt such right from the start. Initially, there were the inevitable teething problems, and a slightly more squirrely feeling downhill on greasy roads, but I soon got used to the feel of it.

By the time we arrived at the first control, the granny ring had packed up and refused to engage on the front mech, but I was lucky enough to arrive at the same time as a guy who had worked in a bike shop for over 15 years, and 30 seconds of adjustment soon rectified that problem.

After the first control came the first and only big climb of the day, which I initially missed, carrying straight on instead of turning left. This was to set a trend, as I didn't realise the limitations of my GPS unit until after the ride. Apparently, if you upload a file that has too many route points, it cuts the number down automatically by knocking the corners off the route. Not recommended for route finding. Admittedly, this did cause some merriment among other riders when I arrived at control 2 from the opposite direction to everyone else.

The course led off through Monmouth and Pontypool down to Newport, with long sections on NCN routes off-road and on towpaths etc. The new bike coped magnificently with the rough stuff, and was infinitely more comfortable than Mr Trek would have been.

A rush across the Caldicott Levels (interrupted by a pub lunch) led to the old Severn Bridge, and a plummet from the top back into England onto the Severn Plain. A quick stop at the Shed near Slimbridge (toasted teacake, mmmmmm!) and the towpath took us into Gloucester, from where it was a quick jaunt (with a little knee-killer thrown in) back to the start.

All in all it took nearly 12 hours for the 212km, but given that much of this was off-road, it wasn't a bad time.

By the time Thursday came round, and the Kinesis went into the Bike Shop for a check over, it had done another ride out with Mrs H, and an 80 mile commute to work. I wonder how many new bikes do 340km in their first 5 days of ownership?

1/2 RTTY.....

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