Over the past year, I’ve been slowly re-building the Sirrus after it was rather cannibalized to create the Lynskey. I didn’t really have idea what purpose the bike would have. That was, until my dad started looking for a bike. After a few suggestions of folding bikes that he wasn’t up for, I had the idea that the Sirrus could be find a good home and avoid him having to spend money on a piece of junk. The added advantage would be that I’d have a bike at my parents house for raids into Wales.
I reckoned that a 150k ride to Bristol would be a good test of the machine and avoid having to put the rack on the car.
Because my dad isn’t really a keen cyclist, I built the front up as high as possible and used a Shimano XT rear mech for a really low bottom gear. I also thought he might appreciate the qualities of the Rivet saddle. The TT bars are not part of the build for my dad. I threw them on at the last minute because I saw the forecast was for a decent headwind the whole way.
The route I based around back roads, which I thought would be a change from the A-roading we did for the (failed) 600. The interest point was that it took in a hill (after Aldbourne) that I always take to be the half way point between Aldershot and Bristol. It stands out because there’s a copse of trees perched on the top and often at night I saw specks of headlights high up in the darkness and wondered what it’d be like up there. Well, now I know.
I had done 3 days of commuting on the Sirrus before this ride, to make sure that it would hold together (and because I was waiting for a new sprocket of the Lynskey). However, the setup clearly wasn’t as finely honed as I’d normally have and I suffered cramp in my thigh after about 50k. This got to it’s worst by Hungerford, where I started raising the saddle. I ended up with it 1.5 inches higher than when I’d started and the last 20 miles went pretty easily.
Hungerford was also the point I had some very tasty sweet and sour balls next to the river.
Despite the thigh cramp, I had a successful couple of races with roadies.
The first was a long slog from the A34 to Hungerford where my thigh was at it’s worst. I turned into a road just ahead of a chap on a pretty good looking setup. I expected him to blow past me and then I’d have a chance to take his wheel, but after putting in a small effort so it wasn’t too easy, I looked in my mirror an he was about 20-30m behind. It pretty much stayed like that for the next 15km! I would pull away at any point where I could employ the TT bars and on the steeper hills, but then would have slight hold-ups (bus coming the other way, traffic lights etc) and he’d be back at 30m. It seemed like such a small distance and our speeds were so similar, that he could have put in a small push and gotten onto my wheel, but he never did.
The second race was alot less dramatic, but made me feel good. In Yate (150k into the ride that was actually 160k) a roadie on a carbon bike was sitting ahead of me at lights. I thought I’d get a small tow for a km or so before he dropped me, but in the end he was really slow and I breezed past him and he disappeared in my mirror on the first hill. Result!
After the saddle raises, the bike worked well for me. I was really glad I had put the TT bars on because it would have been really hard work into the wind and my hands would have been ruined because I would never have been able to take the weight off them. I also ended up in the middle chainring most of the time because the large is (and always has been) too large and the cassette range is big enough now to cater for most hills.
I’m coming to the conclusion that 150 and 300k are my favourite distances. Both a good days out. 300k is a huge distance, but is pretty much waking up to bedtime. 150k is really relaxed time wise, I can drop off the kids at school, prepare and get to my destination in time for an early supper. You don’t go that far in a 100k and 200k is unhelpfully in-between a big day and an easy day. Maybe this will change if I get faster and/or maybe there will be some longer distance that hits the sweet spot as well.
150k still felt like a long way and I still struggle to conceive of it being a quarter of a ride (or an eighth if you’re talking PBP/LEL). But then again, after getting to Bristol, I couldn’t think of doing it again, but now I’m very happy with 300km in a day. We shall see.