Sunday, 2 December 2012

Plans for the winter

In December I usually take some time out from cycling. The weather is bad, the days are short, the traffic gets worse and I’m normally pretty busy doing other things. This year I also need to give my right knee a rest and start planning for the next 70 climbs so December will be a busy month.

December is also the month when I spend hours in the garage getting angry and shouting at tools and bicycle components as I attempt to service and upgrade my bikes. This year will be no different with my Cross Check needing a bit of a rebuild and the Uncle John needing a few tweaks to it’s setup. I haven’t quite got the riding position sorted out yet and I feel a bit cramped when going down hill. The Cross Check I feel more stretched out, more in control and just more confident all round.

I’m also going to be spending some time putting yet another bike together. This bike is going to be rather focussed in it’s form and purpose and I’m building it purely for winter training. Normally I’d spend the winter slogging through the bad weather on my old Thorn touring bike. This winter I’ll be riding a fixed gear bike. Don’t worry, I’m not about to buy skinny jeans and grow some dubious facial hair and then spend my time hanging round trendy coffee shops. I’m building a fixie because over the course of the last few months I’ve grown rather fond of the lower end of my bikes gears. I know from riding a single speed mountain bike that having only one gear on my bike will force me to attack every hill I come to and a fixed gear should also help me smooth out my pedalling a little bit; I’ve tried every technique under the sun to get up the hills more efficiently this year with a result that I sometimes spend too much time deciding how I want to pedal rather than just getting on with the job of riding up hill. Training on a fixed gear will hopefully get my top end power back; I’m not sure whereabouts I lost it but I don’t seem to have the kick I need on the steeper sections at the moment.

I was also persuaded to build a fixed gear bike by the fact On One were knocking them out at a stupidly low price on their website a while back. For £149 I managed to buy a Macinato frame and fork. First impressions of the frame are that the quality is pretty good. The welds are neat and the frame is quite lightweight. The fork is actually heavier that the frame and the paint on both is OK in terms of quality although it does look like a paint sprayed over bare metal finish which will no doubt look a bit tired after some hard use.

The Macinato is very good looking for such a cheap frame

The bike is being built to a budget that befit’s the low price of the frame. Most of the components are already lying around in the garage. All I need to add to the pile is a drive train and a back wheel. My local bike shop will be building the back wheel for me. I’m not sure whether the owner of the shop was horrified or impressed when I told him I was intending to build a fixed gear bike for riding around North Devon. I didn’t dare tell him I’m intending to take it over Exmoor at some point. I haven't ridden a fixed gear bike before so the first couple of rides could be interesting.

A sure sign my winter riding is going to be hard

Anyway, that’s my plans with regard to the garage. I’ve also decided to start planning next years rides early and there is now an improbably large map of the UK on my wall. Time to get out the marker pens and sticky labels…