Another year, mainly in the UK, but ticking some of those boxes
I can’t believe that is another year behind us, three years since Covid broke out and my fifth year of retirement.
When I retired back in January 2018, I wanted to focus more time on the bike, getting fit and seeing new places. Covid changed that for 2020/21 and to be honest I think we were still in a state of flux in 2022. Despite this, I have managed to cover 62,850km and climbed nearly 580,000m in those five years, which I’m pleased with….and I guess that’s why my legs hurt!
I managed to tick a few boxes this year, achieving things I have wanted to do for a long time, but for one reason or another they never happened:
Longest ride – 324km to the coast and back on the Hunstanton Overnight. I had always wanted to ride to the coast and get there as the sun came up.
Overnight ride – For a long time I had wanted to do an overnight ride to the coast, as close to the summer solstice as I could. This year I managed two, the Hunstanton Overnight, and the Dunwich Dynamo, finishing at dawn on the coast.
Longest time in the saddle – Thirteen hours, forty-seven minutes on the Hunstanton Overnight, 23.4kph average, over 1345m of climbing.
Riding back in Europe – I headed out to Belgium for the Ronde van Vlaanderen in April. What a weekend.
This year I managed four rides over 160km, but twenty plus rides in the range 80 to 160km. This has meant a lot of training in the endurance range; therefore, speeds have been down overall. Towards the end of September, I was beginning to feel it when I did try to dig in, anything in zone 4 and above took its toll. Time to relax for a while then start to tune up again next year.
The final big jaunt for 2022 was in September, when I drove the Bokeh and luggage down to Cornwall for the West Kernow Way Three days and 273km of mainly off-road riding in a beautiful and surprisingly quiet region of the UK. It was tough terrain, hilly and poor surfaces, plus the weather had some surprises up its sleeve, but it was a very enjoyable trip.
By November it was time to take it easy through to the end of the year and hopefully get rid of the injuries I have picked up from a fall (my fault) and a head-on hit from a car (not my fault). Plus I have some injuries which I have had for a while, but have not rested long enough to fully recover from. Some routine strengthening exercises on the shoulders and the back should also help ease the pain and should build some resilience for next year.
Strength training is an area of my health and fitness I have ignored and am now paying the price. Next year it will definitely be part of my weekly training regime, as I think it is going to become important as I head into the next stage of my aging life, mid to late 60’s.
That’s enough about me for the year.
Update on the Mason Bokeh
Now nearly three years old and with over 18,000km under the wheels of the Bokeh, and with such varied use, I thought it would be good to share my impression.
During the thirty-four months since the build, 15% of the rides have been on the 650b wheels off-road, riding trips like King Alfred Way and West Kernow Way as well as many fast rides over mountain bike terrain locally with mountain bike friends.
I must say this bike has surpassed my expectations beyond belief. On both of the above big rides above, I was with riders on full-suspension mountain bikes and the terrain was a collection of steep on and off-road climbs, plus rocky and technical descents, mixed with long sections on the road.
The lack of suspension on the bike reminded me of the mountain bikes I rode back in the early 2000’s and also what I enjoyed about off-road riding back then. The lack of suspension means you have to choose a better, smoother line, use your body more for balance and shock absorption.
Tyre pressures have also been important to absorb the shocks, and using the WTB Sendero 47mm tubeless tyre, pumped up to 30psi really works, apart from field edges, where horses have been in the wet, then they dry out; Those are slow…and hurt!!
The other 85% of the kilometres has been covered on a mixture of tyre, the 700 x 30mm Goodyear F1 tubeless tyres, which have performed really well. I bought these because I couldn’t get Continental GP5000’s at the time, but have been very happy with grip, handling and durability, 6500 km in and still going strong. The other tyre used was the Panaracer GravelKing, 700 x 38mm, ideal for touring and mild off-road rides, where grip is not a key factor.
On the road this bike is amazing, taking me on two overnight rides this year, both in excess of 150km. It’s so comfortable and capable of keeping pace with friends on normal road bikes. It’s also been brought into action for high paced group rides and steady club rides. It’s faultless as far as I can see and every time I get on it I still get excited about the ride ahead.
Even with all these kilometres over some tough terrain, and including many spills, the paintwork looks like brand new, just a few wear marks where cables and bags come into contact.
As for the components, well, I mentioned last year at this time the reason for my choice of wheel build and groupset, and I stand by those choices. The road wheel hubs are now up to 30,000km and as smooth as silk, and the 650b wheels have covered 3000km over tough roads with luggage and still true and smooth.
The GRX groupset has now done 10,000km and is heading into the second winter. It is so positive to shift gears and feels ideal for my type of riding. The choice of 10 speed over 11 speed was down to durability, and as I am still running a cassette with over 16,000km on it, which looks like new, I think it was justified. I am also only on my third chain, which I believe is down to the use of Squirt chain lube, giving the chain a wipe, then retreat after every wet ride, or once a week in summer.
As for the brakes, I cannot praise the Hope RX4+ calipers enough. Wow, the four pistons, with large pads either give progressive stopping power, or you can stand it on its nose, if you want to. More astonishingly, I got 7000km out of the front pads (Hope Blue pads) and the rear pads (Hope Blue pads) are still going strong at well over 9000km. Compared to the old M515 pads used by the old calipers, which gave me around 900 to 1200km and nowhere near the stopping power.
Here’s to 2023 and some new adventures.