Now one of the things that I have been worried about most in terms of the ride are the hills. Distance is one thing (and apparently the ride has gone up now to 344 miles I think), but hills are quite another. Give me 50 miles of nice flat terrain (preferably with a following wind:)) and I am pretty happy, but give me a nasty hill and I am off the bike and walking. They hurt everything for me, just don’t like them.
So when I was originally choosing my bike, I looked at the good advice on the GBBR website, which I quote from below:
“……When choosing a bike we recommend that you chose the correct gear ratios. You will need three/triple chain rings on the front and most bikes nowadays have 8/9/10 gears on the back. Due to the length and steepness of some of the climbs we suggest that you have an easy gear so that you can keep spinning your legs.
If you only have two/double rings on the front then it is vital that you have a greater range of gears on the back. You will need a 27 tooth gear to get up the climbs (in less if you are very, very fit). Even so we highly recommend that you have the option to use easy gears if/when you need them…….”
So did I get a bike with a triple chainring on the front? Nope. Did I get a bike with a 27 tooth gear on the back? Nope!
I have of course known this for a long time, but as I have had the luxury of cycling round Oxfordshire all the time, it hasn’t mattered much as of yet. Oxfordshire you see bears as much resemblance to Cornwall as Norfolk does to the Himalayas. They are very very different creatures. And yet still there are hills around Oxfordshire where I have to get off and walk. Doesn’t bode well does it? Not that there is any shame in walking (in fact I have no shame at all, as others may testify), but I do want to try to finish the ride after all.
So anyway, since I am now tapering, I thought I would get myself a new cassette fitted. I duly went to Beeline Cycles on the Cowley Road in Oxford (url below, highly recommended shop by the way) and asked them if they could fit me a new cassette. I was offered an array of different types, and in the end plumped for an 11-28, which I am hoping does the job. They advised me that I would be wise to have a new chain fitted with the new cassette to make sure that they match, and so I did just that. They also serviced my bike for me at the same time, checking all joints, cables, brakes etc etc., and finally gave it a nice clean for me. So I am good to go for those hills, now I have no excuse!
I went out for a spin at lunchtime today, and put in about 25 miles with my new gearing. It will take a little getting used to, as not just the top configuration, but many of the other gears are different too. I could have thought of this a long time ago, but as I am such a great procrastinator then it would never have happened! No chance to try out hills, they’ll have to wait until Cornwall, I am tapering after all:)
OK, so here I am with less than seven days to go. Bloody hell!
Tomorrow I am going to put down here some cycling “Do’s and Don’ts”, as I have learned so much in these last fifteen weeks. Until then…..