I wrote a while back about the plans to do a cycle from Lands End to John O’Groats. Since then, a few things have happened. One is that the route has been settled, and a lot of accommodation has been booked. I’ve also been going on 20-mile training rides every second week or so on a Sunday morning. (Yes, I know that there’s a big difference between 20 and the 70 miles a day we’ll be doing, but it’s not easy cycling in the UK midwinter, when it’s dark in the morning, and the temperatures are around 1 or 2°.)
However, my bike is a 7-year old mountain bike, with thick knobbly tyres. It’s heavy, and isn’t designed for long-distance road cycling. So I’ve been looking at buying a road bike. Which has brought me into the wonderful world of cycling equipment with a bit of a bang. Because walking into a bike shop and asking for what they had in my price range brought the sort of response I usually get in a shoe shop when I ask if they have any 14s. It’s a mixture of mirth, surprise, and lightly disguised ridicule. Turns out that the entry-level road bike of a half-decent quality starts at around £550-650. And that’s just the beginning – there’s the clothes, and the shoes, and the myriad peripheral stuff that seems to be thought of as indispensable.
Right. Maybe if I’m really good at this, I’ll want to invest a bit more in decent equipment. But at the moment, that’s way out of my league. So I turned to that other well-known bike shop, eBay, and managed to procure a reasonably decent Giant at less than half price. The seller was a Welshman, from Llanelli. Which is a 3-hour drive. When I started asking about postage, he eagerly offered to deliver it. I was a little surprised, but accepted the offer, as it meant that I would get the bike a bit earlier than I was expecting. Nothing like a Sunday morning cycle on a new bike.
However, as my luck would have it, about an hour before he was due to arrive, it started snowing. The Welshman managed to make it in, with him, a tall friend, and the bicycle in a small little Ford hatchback. My first thought when he folded himself back into the car, and drove off through an inch of snow to go visit his friends in Birmingham was “Rather you than me, mate.” Not sure whether he made it back home on Saturday, as it was Carmageddon on the motorways for much of Saturday night.
And so, while I wait for the snow to disperse, and the ice on the roads to melt, the new bike sits in the garage, waiting for its inaugural ride. I’m hoping that this will be this weekend. (I’m also hoping that I’ll see a dramatic improvement over the mountain bike, but perhaps that’s just optimistic.)