26 August 2009

summer rides

Click here for some more island views as seen from my bike cockpit.

Running is hard on the joints so I turned to cycling for exercise. I have now found cycling is hard on the neck and the thighs! I am hoping that my legs will get used to pedalling for three hours or more and that my muscles will rise to the task.

When you ride long distances you have to eat and drink to maintain your energy. I take a peanut butter and jam sandwich plus two half-litre drinks bottles, one of water and one of juice. Some people advocate much more than this but I think it's a personal thing. I only eat if I am riding for more than forty miles and I only start drinking when I have done at least ten miles. Any more than this and I feel bloated. However, there is a fine line between too much and too little and only practice reveals what feels right.

In my back pockets I carry a mobile phone, sandwich, lip-balm and sometimes a printed page for a new route. Sometimes I take my compact camera on longer rides. For emergencies I have a small seat bag which holds a multi-tool, punct*re repair kit, tyre levers, spare inner tube, spare gear/brake cables and a twenty dollar bill. On the bike I have a mini-pump. Hopefully I can cope with most minor eventualities even fifty miles from home.

The shoulder is good or adequate for cycling in most places. When I plan a route it is a compromise between quiet roads for solitude and scenery, and major roads for better road surfaces and a wider shoulder. I have also discovered that minor roads tend to have much steeper gradients because they don't have to cater for big trucks.

The Island is swept by strong winds which seem to gust and shift direction. Accordingly even my circular rides are often into a stiff headwind the whole way!

The crankset on my Raleigh Quadra is a racing double. 52-42 chain rings and a rear cassette range of 24-13. My lowest gear is a real grind on the 10% hills but so far I haven't got off to push. Top gear is pretty high and only comes into play on a downhill slope with a tailwind.

I am planning an overhaul of the Raleigh. It's over twenty years old and the components are original. The rear wheel spokes have lost tension on the drive side and the wheel and bottom bracket bearings are worn. I have two new Shimano wheels on order from the USA. The new rear will accommodate up to ten speed cassettes so future gear upgrading will be possible. I also have a new seven speed cassette coming, with a 26-13 range plus a new chain.

I reckon these replacements, plus disassembling and regreasing the bottom bracket will inject new life into the bike. The frame is Reynolds 531 steel tubing and the components mostly Shimano 105 so it is worth maintaining. In due course I would like to buy a new carbon-framed bike with all the modern gears and features. The Raleigh Quadra can be partly retired.

My research shows that bikes in Canada are roughly twice the price of comparable models in England. This must be partly because cycling is considerably less popular than in Europe or the States and also has much do with the logistics and distribution costs across this vast country.

Most UK online cycle and parts suppliers will deliver overseas. They also quote prices without VAT which is sensible because Canadian authorities will apply import duty. I think I might treat myself.

No comments: