Mar 08

Pedalling about on our new bikes

by in Planning, SW England, Trips

Bridgwater, Somerset – Reading – London

It’s hard to convey how excited we were on the train down to Bridgwater in spite of an early start. We were off to pick up our new Thorn Nomads from St John’s Cycles, having visited a few weeks earlier to get measured up and spec out what we wanted.

We’d been lucky to get sponsorship for our bikes, so were able to opt for machines beyond our wildest dreams including Rohloff hubs. They looked lovely with matt black frames, shiny hubs, chunky tyres and shiny new Brooks saddles. We couldn’t stop grinning as we test rode around the local park.

A few tweaks later and panniers added we were off and the pedalling about adventure began. Our plan was Laura and Paddy with new bikesto cycle 200 miles in total back to London over three days staying with friends on route.

The first day’s 35 miles was a great start – beautiful blue skies, fantastic cycling weather. The route took us past Glastonbury Tor and included some good climbs. The Rohloffs were put to the test and completely won us over. Hills that I would have pushed up on my Halfords tank I could now spin up.Laura at Glastonbury Tor

We even found the Brooks saddles incredibly comfy, commenting as we finished day one that we didn’t know what all the fuss was about them needing to be broken in. Foolish comments that would return to haunt us the next morning.

For on day two they were no longer comfortable. I was reminded of the princess and the pea story, for however many layers of padded shorts I had on all I could feel was the rock hard saddle beneath. Every single bump along the Kennet and Avon canal path stung. I was glad to be able to get off and push along a muddy bridle path when we got lost on a diversion, even though the bikes lost their new shine.Laura in the mud

We didn’t make it the full distance to Reading. The pain of the seat and the headwind which slowed us down meant that we caught the train from Pewsey to Reading, feeling slightly guilty but mightily relieved to be out of the saddle.

The plan for day three was for a 55 mile route along the Thames back to London, but our confidence was low we’d even make it out of Reading city centre. Surprisingly the saddles were more comfortable, perhaps helped by wearing every pair of shorts I had with me and taking lots of ibuprofen.

We ended up having a lovely ride, including being rewarded for climb by a fantastic downhill along a fast, muddy forest track which our bikes handled perfectly. There was even the opportunity for a quick pint along the Thames in the afternoon.

Exhausted by the time we got home we were nevertheless thrilled with the performance of the new bikes and confident they will cope with whatever South America throws at them. We both agreed though, that we definitely have some hardening up to do and some softening of those saddles.

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