Not another one

I’m back, which is to say I managed to survive the first term of my final year of University. Having unpacked, eaten at least double my bodyweight in chocolate and survived the hangover resulting from the obligatory end of term night out I can finally turn my attention to Cycling.

Truth be told I haven’t given a great deal of thought to the 2019 race season yet. I know better than to put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well at this stage, much like last year I suspect the best races will come towards the end of the season once the University year has ended. Realistically my original goal of qualifying for the National 10 might be a step too far. I’ll be happy with going under the 20 minute barrier in a ten mile Time Trial and hopefully winning some mid-week club events. I’ll do a few road races if I feel like it but they won’t be the priority.

Over the last few weeks my training has been inconsistent to say the least. Bad weather and deadlines are not especially conducive to getting out on rides. On the flip-side I haven’t struggled with the repeated colds that made last winter such a disaster. I’ve done what I can; gone running when I haven’t had time for a ride or it’s been too wet, made time for two weight training sessions every week and done my best to get some riding in when circumstances have allowed. My overall fitness level isn’t bad but there is still a lot of work to be done on the bike in order to get racing fit again.

My homemade gravel bike has well and truly proved it’s worth. I’ve had some bad experiences with Schwalbe tyres in the past but can’t praise the G-One enough, the 35 mm tubeless setup hasn’t missed a beat so far. Somehow these tyres manage to be fast rolling on the road but grippy enough to handle muddy bridleways and even stand up to being taken down the odd Mountain bike trail. At some stage I’d like to make the switch to hydraulic disc brakes but for the time being the trp spyre cable operated ones that I bought second hand on eBay have done a perfectly decent job. I’m not convinced that 1x drivetrains are the future for road bikes but for gravel riding they make perfect sense. The clutch mech on the rear paired with a narrow – wide chainring has performed flawlessly, the chain hasn’t come off once despite all that’s been thrown at it. Investing a considerable amount of time and money to put that bike together to a very exact set of specifications has turned out to have been a good decision – winter rides are no longer a chore.

Now, speaking of bikes. It’s time for something of a confession. With a mountain bike, TT bike, road race bike, winter road bike, summer road bike / spare race bike and finally a gravel bike I’d decided that enough was enough. The N+1 rule had reached its limit. Maintaining all those machines has been a real headache at times, both financially and logistically. I’d even toyed with the idea of selling one or two of them.

That was before I made that classic mistake of having a casual look on eBay.  I couldn’t help but see it. A very unloved 1980’s Peugeot; down tube shifters, threaded headset, 5 speed with 27 inch wheels – the works. Worse still it was only £35 and located 10 miles away from where I live. I repeatedly told myself that it was a stupid idea. Restoring this bike would probably cost more than the worth of the finished product. It would involve a lot of elbow grease; stripping the frame down having to remove various seized components in the process, painstakingly repainting it and finally having to source compatible parts to complete the build. Overall a bad idea. The bike is now of course sat in my garage awaiting the overhaul it probably should have had 10 years ago.

I’m now in the process of making up various excuses to justify the purchase. It’s hard to beat the look of a classic bike from a time when power meters hadn’t been invented yet and nobody had heard of aerodynamics. With time and patience there’s no reason why the bike can’t be bought back to it’s former glory. Hopefully I’ll learn a few new skills along the way which might well come in useful at some stage in the future.

So in short it’s all business as usual. A slow start to my winter training, continuing to discover the joys of gravel riding and taking on another project bike. There’s a distinct possibility I won’t get round to writing another post till the new year so to that end I wish all readers a happy Christmas and good 2019.

Thanks for reading.

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