One of the first bits of advice I got told when I mentioned that I was doing a LEJOG ride was to spent time as much time in the saddle as possible on the bike you’re going to ride during the trip. Sound advice indeed, and I’ve certainly needed no excuse to take my carbon bike out of the garage (so much so that I finally feel as though I’ve worn in my Bontrager Affinity 2 saddle). However, as I was slogging my way round the hilly TT course last Sunday, I remembered how much easier going uphill on my lightweight dream machine used to seem when I did most of my miles on my steel frame weigh-a-tonne commuter bike.
Unfortunately this winter has taken a heavy toll on my ferrous friend. Although it’s only got about 10,000 miles on the clock, driving rain, salt spray, and sand blasted coast roads has meant it’s recently spent a couple of weeks in pieces on the garage floor awaiting a good clean and a replacement bottom bracket. Inspired by my miserable TT performance, and the need to shift a few holiday pounds, I decided that in order to get a bit if strength back into my legs it wouldn’t hurt to reassemble Johnny 5.
Turns out it does hurt. Quite a lot in fact.
With it’s disc brakes and internal hub gears it’s about 5kg heavier than my LEJOG bike and the more flexible steel certainly doesn’t let you put the power down as quickly as a stiff carbon fibre frame, both of which have translated into a strange feeling of cycling through custard the last few days. I’ve read plenty of bike reviews that talk about responsiveness, frame stiffness etc, but it’s never something I’ve honestly really noticed myself until recently. Hopefully a sign my bikemanship is improving, but I’ve certainly feel like I’ve been working harder this week and my legs are feeling pretty heavy – no pain, no gain I hope.
I’ve also stuck on some wider tyres following another bit of advice, opting for a pair of 25mm Continental GP4000s. I was fed up with the 6 (yes, that’s SIX) punctures I’d had on my 23mm Specialized Roubaix tyres this year anyway, so though it would be a good time to try out some wider – and therefore in theory more comfortable – rubber. It’s hard to compare given I hadn’t ridden this bike for a couple of weeks, and I can’t really tell if there’s much difference to the 23mm version on my carbon bike because of the different frame material, but I’ve not found them a drag. If anything, it’s given me a bit of an excuse to take advantage of the more cyclocross specific nature of my steely, with it’s disc brakes and high bottom bracket, and hit a few coast paths on the way to/from the office. All good fun splashing through the mud, although I’m still some way off buying a Trek Boone just yet!
Interestingly though I’ve managed to bang out 2 Strava KOM’s this week, even with a 4kg ruck-sack on my back (and no significant tailwinds before you ask!). This means that 4 out of my current paltry total of 6 KOM’s have been set on my ‘slow’ bike with a bag on my back. Not too shabby I suppose, but I certainly don’t intend to “tak’ the high road” on anything other than carbon fibre.