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“This week I ‘ave mostly been….”

“This week I ‘ave mostly been….” Jesse, Fast Show 1994-1997

It’s been a good week’s riding, the sunny weather bringing all the post-Olympic newcomers out into the countryside. I don’t mind all the extra new folk on the roads: the more of us that are out there, the more we’ll be recognised on the roads by errant drivers in my view. I’m sure most of us are drivers as well as cyclists, so if all the new people appreciate what we have to contend with on two wheels, the better drivers they will become.

Anyway, that isn’t the point of this blog really. This week has been filled with ripping off tubs from carbon rims and replacing them (photo story to follow) and ripping around the countryside on the trusty hack I use for component tests, making the most of the Mavic Ksyrium SLR’s before handing them back. The 105 groupset from the Dunwich Dynamo ride is back in boxes awaiting my editor’s choice of winter frame build: all suggestions welcome. What would you like to see built up and ridden?

A delivery from our local Endura rep was exciting: custom made FS260-Pro team jerseys in the colours of a loose association of riding buddies. The three new jerseys all needed christening, so one warm training ride, a route through the hills, and a local race all served as ideal material. Endura have done a good job with the FS260 in my opinon: vented panels under the armpits, flat lock stitching and stretchy fit that meant, despite the humid conditions, I never felt too hot. In combination with a pair of plain black Rapha shorts and one of the Pro Team base layers and socks, the new kit looked great, and although the mixing of brands necessitated breaking ‘the rules’, I think I got away with it.

The local crit racing this week was fairly fast, but for once the scratch group of which I was a tiny cog failed to catch the slowest riders before the line. A weighty handicap at the start of the race and a touch of wheels on lap two slowed the rapid progress around the short course. From my vantage point of hanging on to wheels and closing gaps I saw some pretty handy bike handling skills from several of our pack as we slipped betwix’d hedge and horse box at one tight moment.

The short course is always a great work out for me, especially as it suits neither my mentality or my style of riding. A fast triangular lap with hard acceleration out of the corners leaves a lighter weight climber hanging on for dear life if they’re not careful. Close those gaps and stick to the wheel in front is the best advice. It does however work the legs over to give me some punch on climbs, and always is a great test of confidence in a new test bike’s handling.

Hammering into a tight corner on a new steed is sometimes a fraught affair, especially when the brakes are switched over. I am now able to modulate equally well with either paw but it’s always an annoyance. From race bike geometry to sportive comfort, from carbon uber bike to steel-is-real, a fair few of the machines I’ve been sent to test have found themselves thrown around country roads. Some will go back in the van with dark mutterings about their unsuitability, others will be pushed to the startline with a sense of joy and a touch of smugness, but all are ridden as hard as can be mustered on the night, and it does, in spite of my protestations, always bring a smile to my face in the end…normally.

It’s always sad when time-served kit finally gives up it’s hold on the world and my trusty Nike Ventoux II shoes are beginning to expire. A wipe down after racing in the week ended with carbon splinters in my fingers from the carbon sole crumbling at the toe. So the search begins for an equally excellent pair of disco slippers. With the Pearson Easy Come Easy Go, Specialized Tarmac and selection of wheels all departed from our garden room finally, I have some room for the new arrivals, the Time Rx Instinct and Enve wheels among the newcomers.

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