New Wheels?

You know you are over an illness when you wake up and your first thoughts are not related to assessing the extent of the illness or progression of recovery, but more: “where is the coffee?”

I’m back to training and feeling pretty good, though my heart sank a little as I wrote out the weeks schedule and realised that every day is a double day this week. Or a triple if you count core but that needs to be a nightly routine, really. Writing out the plan always feels daunting though, it starts to feel easier as the days tick themselves off.

I spent the weekend back at parental-ville for a friends hen-do, so on Saturday I went riding (early – hen do began at 12) over the hills on a ride that became my familiar jaunt last winter.

I never fail to forget quite how undulating the road from Farnham to Haselmere is. I say ‘undulating’ because hilly is not quite the word. None of the ‘hills’ are necessarily large, it is just that they never cease – the road just dips and dives like an overzealous fairground ride or the hand of a chubby five year old with a bag on dunken-doughnuts. Regardless, I completed my prescribed 3hrs (ok – 2hrs48min, but I couldn’t quite be bothered to make the ride back from Odiham an extra 12mins long) feeling suitably satisfied before quick bath, shorthand session, and a bit of pre-hen beautification (I try. Sometimes.)

It seems an obvious thing to say, but the road changes very little. All the take-you-by-surprise-icy sections, the sandpaper-road-rough sections, the-don’t-realise-it’s-an-incline-till-you-turn-round sections were exactly the same, it was pleasantly nostalgic. I even found myself slowing to observe Frensham Pond from the A287 exactly as I did on Boxing Day last year. And it was just as beautiful, maybe more so in the foggy half light.

Once again, a week (six days) of no training at all only served to highlight to me that among the three sports, I have a favourite and it involves a pair of wheels. This becomes all the more exciting considering my current position: I am looking to buy my very own TT bike.

Advice has come from everywhere on this issue, I have examined the potential vehicles in detail, splitting hairs over shifters, gear ratios and the all important integrated break..

With my reading and price comparison done, I was all set to get myself a Trek, on paper it seemed excellent, I had located a good deal, the model in the shop looked quite fantastic. The bike looked to be the one until I sat on it, and all my carefully laid plans fell around my ears – because everything was wrong. My knees hit the bars, yet I couldn’t reach the shifters, which were a gnarly shape, and fell into place without that satisfying click I’m accustomed to. I wobbled around the test ride route and felt about as insecure as I’ve ever felt on a bike.

So next, I rode the ‘back up bike’ – a Q. Roo with pink lettering that happened to be £500 reduced because she was last seasons model. I sat on the bike and she felt like a long lost glove. I took her for a ride and she carried me over a little hillock, dived around corners with me and smashed down the long straight. I’m off to ride her again (for the third time) to confirm, but I think she’s the bike.

So here she is. Of course, lots of fitting, shuffling of spacers and saddles to be dnoe – and some serious work on the badly fitted cables..

She hits my budget exactly, and being on sale I’d have to buy her now, as opposed to waiting and saving a little more, which is the other option. But considering the spec is the same as the average full price 2012 model, that seems a little silly. I am aware that spending less might mean I could upgrade wheels and invest in a pointy helmet, which would make all the difference, but then I would have wonderful wheels and a pointy helmet and my bike would always be a little less than I could have afforded. Better, in my opinion, to spend on the base that will last me a decade (I hope) and build on it in the years to come.

My bike shopping experience has forced me to broaden my knowledge, and I’m pleased to say I’m more informed that I was when I bought my road bike (who does, thankfully, still serve me beautifully well). However, when it comes to the crunch, and your hand is wavering over the till, I think it really all comes down to the bike that works with you, and for you, the best. I really hope my Roo is the one to do that.

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