Another door opens…..
Regular readers of this blog will be aware that over the last year or so, I have been undergoing a slow but definite ‘road to Damascus’ moment; an appropriately Pauline conversion from naive road novice to gently seasoned (and gentler speed-wise) tour-inflected cyclist. I like to think of it as a process of maturing, although the concept of maturity is something I have rarely been happy to entertain in general terms.
Yes – on buying the Orbea I was drawn into the whole ‘Cycling Plus’ mentality of shiny carbon, red, white and black colour schemes, italic sans-serif lettering and the whole overheated ‘roadie’ aesthetic (I hesitate to term it an aesthetic….). And ever since I pulled on my first lycra jersey, it has been dawning on me that something isn’t right here.
A large part of the inspiration has been my discussions, frequently in our cups, with my cycling buddy Mark. His approach, in stark contrast to mine, was to buy an ultra low-key steel-framed Thorn Raven Tour Sport with Rohloff, and to ride the ass of it whilst at the same time deliciously out-pacing various carbon shoe-clad oafs on their shiny new Boardman Team Carbons. When it came to cycling gear, he chose Tudor Sports from Lutterworth – suppliers of proper old-fashioned and rather lovely kit.
And so it has been that my journey has continued in the direction of the slowly rising sun. My early lycra efforts are dispensed with via the chute marked Ebay. My kit for this year is tasteful and British, from Shutt VR of Yorkshire. But clothing is not, of course, what we cycle for.
February is dispensed with as of midnight tomorrow. Thank the Lord. I have rarely been so pleased to see the back of a month – I am truly sick of this winter, proper though it was. If my chosen sport was ice skating or the luge, then perhaps I would have adopted a different viewpoint. But no. 700 x 23c slick tyres do not a happy icy road ride make. Only in the last fortnight has there been a glimmer of hope showing through.
On the afternoon of a hideous and harrowing day recently, spring punctuated the air. I got out on the bike and my misery evaporated. Broad Suffolk fields, sunlight and a massive blue sky lifted my mood. Temperate air made existence bearable. I thought: “This is what it’s all about!”.
My close geometry road bike has been encumbered more and more recently by comfort-enhancing additions. It’s got to the point where a fundamental clash between frame angles and desired functions has forced an uncomfortable and game-changing question to be answered: do I want a road bike any more?
Yes; do I really want to be riding a super short wheelbase, hydroformed aluminum framed, carbon-forked, twitchy and unforgiving machine red-faced and puffing along the lanes of rural East Anglia? Or do I want to go down a different route; one where rides are longer, more stately, but ultimately less frantic and painful?
The question has, like most unavoidable imperatives, answered itself today with the ordering online of a new frame. A steel frame and forks, to whit. A Thorn Audax Mk 3 to be absolutely precise.
The plan is to build it up by transferring the componentry from the current bike to the new one, as most should be interchangeable. So the compact chainset is coming over (no plans for a triple yet), and even the ultra harsh, twitchy American Classic wheelset – although the tyres might have to be changed to a set of 25c’s for comfort purposes.
At this early stage, I shall leave it at that. As with the British Eagle, I will post a running commentary about the build and the final results.