Monday, July 31, 2006

Home again...briefly!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Home again...briefly...before heading off with Joe West on the Meeting of Minds Tour...

...and the Big Bike ride is OVER. Pictures of the entire extravanganza are at or by clicking here

Many, many thanks to all those who gave money and are giving money via the CATS website (link at the side). It was interesting that Arran, Carradale and Campbeltown saw the biggest number of people handing me notes and change - fantastic generosity. And great coverage of the ride and CATS in the national press (especially the Sunday Post and Daily Record) and several local newspapers (special thanks to David from the Arran Banner for his enthusiasm. I've decided I want to live on Arran).

Thanks to Jenny and Ken, my BBC colleagues, and to Dave D for repairing my chain!

If you're interested, the bike I used was a 2004 model (new old stock) Orbit Ventura. The frame is Reynolds 520c Chromoloy, fantastically supple and forgiving. Brooks B17 leather saddle (15 years old) is the only way to travel.
Tyres were a bad mistake: Schwalbe Marathon Slicks are NOT up to even mildly rough stuff, despite having 'kevlar belts'. Plagued by a punctures in the back tyre following my spill on the Forth and Clyde towpath...turned out to be a tiny hole in the tyre casing that was pinching the tube. I'd use Slime tyre inserts and Slime-filled tubes if I was doing it again. And despite loving that Orbit frame, I'd probably go for a 26-inch wheel expedition bike like the Thorn Nomad. It has the Rohloff 14-speed hub gear, which I'd also want to use. My Shimano Deore Derailleurs were a menace, impossible to keep adjusted, and the maladjusted chain eventually snapping (possibly aided by the presence of a removable link, which is just stupid). I'd also get proper panniers, like Ortliebs. The cheap Countryman front panniers (off eBay) were awkward and disintegrated, though the cheap Raleigh rear panniers were surprisingly impressive. I would use SPDs, I think. But maybe not. They really help climbing but are useless for getting off and pushing! Axiom bar bag was fantastic, as was Altura Nevis jacket. Lycra is, I'm afraid, a necessity, though Endura baggy over shorts disguise the look. Vaseline and Sudocream saved my bacon.
Oh, and don't be tempted by a trailer. I watched a poor chap with a top of the range Santa Cruz mountain bike, towing a Yak Bob, having the invisible trailer crushed by a car boarding the Lochranza ferry. Trailers and recumbents are invisible to drivers because no-one expects thenm to be there.

Other lessons? You can do things at 50 that surprise you. Climbing hills on a bike may be painful, but it doesn't kill you. Physically, I'm not as decayed as I thought. next year...Aberdeen to Shetland via Inverness, and Orkney? Or Land's End to John o'Groats? Can't decide...

posted by Notions | 2:34 AM

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