Anyway, by this time next week I'm hoping to have ticked off another couple of climbs. This Thursday I'm hoping that a meeting in Somerset will give me enough time to finally complete the South West climbs and tackle Weston Hill. My previous attempt to combine riding this hill with a meeting failed when my crap nav took me to it via the longest possible route and I simply ran out of time. Hopefully this time around knowing where the climb is, and having figured out another faster route to it, I can complete it in plenty of time to get changed, have a bit of lunch and get to my meeting. It is a climb that finishes with a 20% flourish so I may be rather red faced and out of breath by the time I get to work but thats all part of the challenge.
A few days after Weston Hill I'm hoping to ride Jiggers Bank. I have a meeting in the West Midlands and as I'm travelling all that way from North Devon it seems daft not to try and knock off at least one of the outstanding climbs in the Midlands. I was tempted to be adventurous and take on The Burway but I would be faced with riding it after a hideously early start, several hours of driving and at least 2 hours of being sat in meetings. Jiggers Bank seemed a more sensible option, especially when you consider that it is a 3/10 rated climb as opposed to the 9/10 Burway.
Thats the plan for the next week or so. Hopefully I'll be able to take a bit of time off work before the end of November and have a 2 day trip to the South East. I was hoping to have knocked off at least 40 of the 100 climbs by the end of the year. Knee problems in Devon and a couple of less than successful trips to Wales have really impacted on my planned schedule to hit that number so I'm intending to try and reach the target of at least 30 climbs by the end of November. At the moment being able to achieve this relies partly on my meetings in Somerset and the West Midlands not being cancelled so fingers crossed it all works out.
A few thoughts on the Uncle John
I feel a bit sorry for my Uncle John. I built it up with the idea that it would be the ideal bike for riding up big hills and, after a rushed build, I've largely not been in the best of shape to get the best out of it. Over the last couple of weeks I've got the cold that hit me in Wales out of my system and have been able to put some proper miles on the bike.
My initial impression that it is more responsive that my faithful Surly Cross Check seems to be correct although I think the Cross Check is more stable through fast down hill bends. I'm still fiddling with the riding position on the Uncle John so there might be a few things I can tweak to improve my position on the bike which may help a bit with the handling.
Overall not a bad bike but still needs a bit of tweaking
The Uncle John is certainly a fairly stiff bike and it climbs well, especially during out of the saddle efforts. In fact I've been experiencing a bit of brake rub when really pushing the bike on hard climbs so maybe my wheels are being shown up by the stiffer frame. On the other hand I do seem to be getting up certain local climbs I know well a bit quicker that I do on the Cross Check so I can live with a bit of brake rub.
The build quality of the frame is pretty good although I'm already starting to lose paint off the bottom of the down tube thanks to a few stones being flicked up by the front tyre. The Kinesis fork on the other hand still looks like it is fresh out of the box and is probably stiffer than the frame it is attached to. I have to admit I've not made a particularly comfortable bike and the cheap saddle I bought creaks more than I do and will need to be replaced at some point.
I'm still experiencing a few grumbles with the rear derailleurs indexing but I'm prepared to live with that for the time being as I'll probably be repositioning the shift levers in December when I take a break from riding and I'll sort out the shifting then. The good thing about running bar end shifters is that I can set them to friction shifting mode if the indexing gets really out. The bad thing about them is I've managed to position them in such a way that hard climbing out of the saddle can sometimes result in me changing gear with my knees which is awkward and frequently painful. This will be sorted out by angling the shifters out a little which will help keep them out of my way.
Anyway, thats all for now. Next stop Weston Hill