Distance: 42.5 miles. Elevation: 2126 ft.
It was a sunny day but bloody cold(13-15°C), or at least colder than I had predicted – I could have done with a skull cap under my helmet. The main purpose of this ride was to try out new shoes that I had bought 4½ months ago but never tried! I decided that I might as well try out my new saddle as well (bought 7 months ago, never tried!) and my new goggles. Also I was trying out a new camera, and a new pump!
The route was deliberately planned to be fairly flat, with only 2 hills to speak of: Stede Hill, near Harrietsham and Barn Hill, my regular final climb. Before leaving I fitted my new saddle and put the cleats on my new shoes. I also tried out my new pump. So really this ride was testing lots of new gear, each described independently on other posts:
- Shimano R170 SPD-SL Shoes
- Selle Italia SLR Super Flow Saddle
- Wiggle dhb Pro Triple Lens Sunglasses
- Topeak Joe Blow Sport II Track Pump
- Panasonic DMC-LF1Lumix Compact Camera
As can be seen from the pics, the weather was gloriously sunny, but it was also distinctly chilly. The ride felt weird at first because I was on a different saddle, wearing different shoes, probably the two most important interfaces between man and bike! Both turned out to be OK in the main (see other pages). The roads were dry mainly but some, like Runham Lane which was covered in mud, were crap! Quite a few back lanes were badly pot-holed and covered in mud and debris. At one point, a car was coming towards me on a narrow lane through some woods; I barely found enough room to thread my way between potholes as I squeezed past at speed – a close call that could have ended with me in the muddy verge.
Here is the Colnago, with black saddle, looking totally uncool, by virtue of flagrantly flouting
On the way back, about 10 miles from home, there was an incident. I was doing good speed when, up ahead, a car had to give way to an approaching car at a narrow bridge. I slowed down and when I saw the car in front moving again I accelerated back up to speed, but when I looked up I saw that the he had given way again to another car coming over the bridge. I slammed my brakes on but was unable to stop in time – my front wheel hit the number plate of the car in front and I went sort of sideways over the handle bars and came down on my side on the back of the car. The car was an old convertible with a spare wheel on the back (an old MG or something I think) and I guess the spare wheel sort of ‘cushioned’ my blow.
“What are you [bloody well] doing” said the owner, looking back over his shoulder. I didn’t actually say anything as far as I remember. I think I was still trying to work out what had happened, and checking for damage to me, the bike and his car. “I hope you haven’t damaged it” he said. “No you’re OK”, I said as I looked down and saw no damage other than maybe a slightly dented number plate. He drove off, and I followed. A couple of hundred yards up the road he pulled over, no doubt to check his car. I did the decent thing and pulled up too. “I think I hit your number plate and may have dented it slightly” I said, “Sorry”. He reached down and pulled the plate back into shape. “I thought you were going over the bridge so I followed”, I said. “I thought I was too” he replied. “Are you OK?” he asked. “Yes I’m OK, thanks. Sorry again”. “OK”, he said, “it’s just one of those things. Enjoy the rest of your ride”. “Thanks” I said, as I rode off. The bike seemed unscathed.
It was very similar to a crash I had back in the 80’s when I used to commute in London. That time I ended up on the boot of a car that had stopped unexpectedly in front of me and my bike suffered damage to the dérailleur hanger when it crashed to the ground; I had to walk home!
The rest of the journey, thankfully, passed without incident.
Match the saddle and the bars to the frame decals