Distance: 41.8 miles. Elevation: 3544 ft.

It was a hazy, lazy, balmy, calm(y) day; a great example of why September is my favourite time of year. A watery sun presided over misty landscapes; far away, smoke rose from small fires as landowners cleared away Summer’s exuberant growth. In the distance, farmers silently went about their Autumn tasks. All of nature seemed in a sleepy mood.

The heady aroma of dappled sunlight
The heady aroma of dappled sunlight

OK, OK, so it was a beautiful day already! Get over it! Let’s get onto the nuts and bolts of this ride. And it did involve quite a few nuts and bolts, as I made numerous adjustments and changes to my new bike before setting off:

  1. I fitted my Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels. Off the bike, it was easy to feel that the Mavics were noticeably lighter than the Shimano RS30s they were replacing. The only thing was that the red tyres looked terrible on my new frame.P9240535rNo matter, I’ll change the tyres at some later date. I left the SRAM 11-32 cassette on the rear. The di2 electronic shift worked perfectly with it, except it couldn’t cope with the combination of big chain ring and 32T sprocket (it just couldn’t stretch that far), so I had to remember not to use that combination; to do so would risk wrecking the whole drive-train, or even damaging the frame itself!
  2. I changed my handlebar stem to a 100mm version, up from 90mm to see if it felt any better. (It didn’t – I felt like I was slightly too stretched while riding on the hoods.)
  3. I lowered my saddle about 6mm, as I felt it was slightly too high compared with what I was used to.
  4. I fitted my SPD-SL road pedals. After having used my SPD pedals for the past few months to see if they cured a knee problem I was having, I decided to switch back to these to see if the problem recurred.
  5. I changed the cleats on my shoes – to fit the SPD-SL pedals.

So I finally set off on the ride after making all those changes.

Immediately, I felt that the right pedal cleat wasn’t aligned correctly, so I stopped after 13 miles (I was looking for a nice place to stop!) and adjusted it. I was mindful throughout the whole ride to not use 1st gear, as I would not have a gear that low on the new cassette that I’ve recently ordered, so I just wanted to make sure that I could climb all my usual hills on a higher ratio. I managed it OK – even the ridiculously steep Saint Helen’s Lane.

The rest of the ride went without incident. On Strava afterwards, I saw that I had achieved 10 personal bests! And I wasn’t even trying that hard. It’s definitely a fast bike!

Did I mention it was a beautiful day?


View from Cotman's Ash Lane

Ride notes:

White handlebar tape
Already beginning to look grubby after less than 200 miles – who’d have thought? Just as I was coming into West Malling, my chain came off and I got my fingers greasy putting it back on; cautious of not getting the bar tape dirty, I cleaned my hands on the surprisingly strong leaves of a nearby tree!

Since putting the Ksyrium Elites on, the new bike is noticeably less comfortable than it was with the Shimano RS30s. A shame, but such is the price of performance I guess.

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