Thursday, July 02, 2009
First Big Ride on the New Bike
I've finally taken advantage of the good weather to take the new bike out for a (long) spin. I found the Ten Thames Bridges 100k route on Bikely and augmented it with an extra 50k between Herne Hill and the start of the route in Windsor.
The section from home to Windsor took in lots of West London, including much of Heathrow Airport. Whilst low on rutal charm, I have to admit to finding the environs of Heathrow oddly fascinating; all the low rise, anonymous business parks interspersed with 1930s suburban houses long since seperated from their demolished neighbours. Not to mention the constant stream of jets overhead - I soon passed the time playing guess the destination based on my (hazy) knowledge of airline tail logos.
The Ten Thames Bridges route itself was pretty lovely; lots of Home Counties greenery and obviously a number of bridges varying from the fairly imposing Marlow Suspension Bridge to a thin, no-cycling walkway across Mill End Weir. The latter was actually a highlight, despite having to get off and push, as you felt a lot closer to the water, with the Thames rushing, crystal-clear below. Having said that I'm not sure I'd get out the picnic chairs halfway across as one elderley couple had done.
Using just a printed out Bikely map for the route wasn't great (translation: massive navigation fail!). In future I think I'll create some kind of prompt sheet, complete with distances between turnings. There's nothing better at bringing down your average speed than having to ride up a hill that you're not 100% sure is on the route. At one point in the afternoon my nav was so off I had to turn on the GPS funcitonality of my Nokia N95 to work out which way I'd veered off the route proper.
The bike seemed perfectly up to the distance and in particular the Brooks saddle was a revelation. No sore undercarriage the next day. The Carradice saddle bag was also up to the task, storing plenty. However it's definitely from a "gentler" age of cycling - no ability to quickly remove and attach it when parked up outside a newsagents in the dodgy part of town.
Having convinced myself 150k is do-able, I think the next step is to maybe do an audax of a similar length. I've been eyeing up these two - Ruislip 205k and Luton and Herts 150k. Has anyone ridden either of them before?
I was pretty exhausted by the end, but sitting at Datchett station aftewards having a lucozade and salt-and-vinegar Discos, I was pretty pleased with a good day's riding.
(aerial pic of Marlow Suspension bridge courtesy of/stolen from http://www.marlowtown.co.uk/)