After riding Challacombe last week the Cross Check needs a good strip down and general clean up. Its amazing how such a short ride in the hills in bad weather can knacker a bikes drive train and brakes so I need to spend some quality time in the garage swearing at tools and bicycle components in order to get it fighting fit for the next lot of rides.
The time table I'm working to means that the Exmoor Forest climb is the next one up to be tackled on the 21st April. Following that I'm aiming to tick off the Rundlestone, Dartmeet, Widdecombe and Haytor Vale climbs on the 28th and then have a day at the sea side and tick off the Salcombe Hill climb in Sidmouth on the 5th May.
That little lot will mark the end of the climbs nearest to me and I can start focussing my attention on the climbs further North and in Wales. Some of the Welsh climbs look particularly fearsome so I'm not sure I'm looking forward to them. I've been out on my extremely heavy touring bike on some steep rides in a half arsed attempt to prepare.
My recent planning hasn't just been focussed on which climbs to tackle next. There is the small matter of sorting out my Bianchi so it is ready to be pressed into service. Seeing as it is quite literally just a frame and fork at the moment there is a fair bit of sorting out needed. I've got about 75% of the components needed to get it built up and my local bike shop is helping me locate a suitable headset. Hopefully it will be ready by the 5th May.
The Bianchi will be a lighter and faster bike that my trusty Surly Cross Check and hopefully easier to fit into the back of my car. I recently bought a Fiat Qubo which is a great little car to use as bicycle transport. The rear seats come out completely and as the photo below shows I can fit a whole bike in there quite easily.
However, with the Cross Check in the car I lose most of the luggage space so I've looked into the options for fitting an internal rack which will support the bike with the front wheel off. The Bianchi will have a much shorter wheel base and would suit this option really well. I could also avoid the problem of a loose bike banging around in the back. The sound of a car interior and bicycle being scratched simultaneously isn't a pleasant one and bungy cords are only so effective at stopping this from happening.
There are a few manufacturers who sell internal bike racks that allow you to secure your bike upright in the boot of a car. These however are usually sold at ridiculously high prices so using a cheap fork clamp bought off the internet and a couple of bits of old fence post I found in the shed (yes, really) I made my own and saved a lot of money in the process. I've yet to try it out properly but it seems to do the trick. No doubt I'll get a chance to find out next weekend.
A bit of sanding, drilling and not too much swearing produced this
It will need to be prettied up a little bit but when I stuck the bike on it in the driveway it didn't fall over so I would consider my DIY efforts a success. I've never been keen on the idea of my bike being strapped to the outside of a moving car which is why I've gone down this route.