1. It’s all about the bike

    Source: https://www.facebook.com/rapharacing

    I’m not sure exactly how it came about, but I remember catching the The Man Who Cycled the Americas tv series on the BBC and developed some serious admiration for Mark Beumont, and the lengths he went too to not only cycle so far, but all the preparation and determination that goes into taking part in such an event. I think there are a number of reasons that I could have taken to cycling. The sense of freedom it gives you, releasing stresses of daily life. Riding for the same reasons I did as a kid, to explore. Suffering as a group and the bonding it can generate. You don’t have to rely on anyone to do it, as you have to with team sports. You can ride in a group, with your partner on your own. It’s no longer something I look upon as a recreational activity as I now ride to work. It’s becoming a way of life.

    It must have been around 2009 when I decided to walk into a bike shop having done no prior research and bought a cheap steel dually suspended mountain bike that must have come to about £90.
    It wasn’t long before I realised what I had done. After reading blogs and mags I decided to trade it in for a hard tailed Specialized Hardrock. The poor lad I sold the old one too said he was going to be doing the London to Brighton on it. I didn’t have the heart to tell him, after all I just wanted a quick sale.

    I felt the challenges of the off road appealed to me more at the time, and although I still enjoy it and have been to various off road trails a number of times. There aren’t enough decent trails close to home so I don’t find it as accessible as the possibility of being able to just jump on from home and head out for a ride. Sure you can ride a mountain bike on the road, but after a while it kind of becomes a bit of a slog and you just can’t generate a decent enough speed.

    So, having been inspired by last summers olympics in London and watching the last few years of the Tour de France I decided to invest in a road bike. A was going to get a new one, but a friend was selling an older bike, which had some high ends parts including a Campagnolo group set. That bike is a Condor Squadra. It’s super light and has an aluminium frame with carbon forks totalling around 1500g in weight. I tend to prefer buying second hand to begin with as it gives you the chance to primarily find out whether it’s for you and also you won’t feel as bad about thrashing it about.

    One of the main things i’ve learnt from buying this bike i sizing. The bike turned out to be a few sizes to big for me, but having been for a fitting with Condor and given some advice I’ve managed to tweak the set up to fit me better. The changes made include saddle height, new handle bars (brought down from 440mm to 420mm), cleat positioning, shorter stem (70mm). My shoes were also fitted with 2 Valgus Shims to help body geometry.

    Overall the bike feels alot more comfortable now. It’s still by no means perfect, as having a large frame with a short stem takes away alot of the handling, but it’s still a good ride. I’m planning on getting as much use out of it this year with the possibility of grabbing a smaller second hand frame and transferring my components over if the right one comes up. I don’t see the point in buying a new frame when the rest of the bike is used. Maybe next year I will sell this one and invest in a new ride!

    I have a few rides planned this year with the first big one being the Tour de Kent in May, which is a nice 53 miler from Gillingham down to Margate. Also at the time of writing this post theres been some talk about doing the LFGSS Football Stadium Ride. Let’s see how the weather holds up!

    I’ll post some bike pics up here soon!