A Change Is As Good As A Rest. Not…

You know that term “a change is as good as a rest”…. it’s bollocks.

I took charge of the new gold dream this week and basically swapped bikes: out with the old and in with the new. I should have known better. I know only too well from my running days (albeit 30 years ago) that you never change 100% from old gutties (running shoes) to new ones as a high mileage runner because your legs are used to the way that old ones work. You have the phase them in.

Ditto the new bike. Thought I’d get away with it: I was wrong.

Legs hurt.

Lower back hurt (yesterday until I made some adjustments).

But the back of my neck really hurts. And that’s not good.

A long, long time ago, in June 2014, I wrote a blog called Getting Yer Angles right: it was the story about how I’d swapped my old mountain bike that took the brunt of the Fenwick Muir during the winter of 13/14, for a heavy touring bike. That happened in March ’14. I then spent the next wee while tweaking stuff in order to find a comfortable riding position for my upper body. Back then, it took a couple of months to realise that I’d got the saddle maybe half an inch too high and it was killing the hamstring tendons in the back of my knees.

This time it’s taken just three days.

I’ve been messing with the geometry since I left Neil’s shop on Wednesday but it’s clearly not yet right. The good news is I don’t have a sore (lower) back anymore: that’s something I dread. I’ve had enough back problems down the years to last me a lifetime so this is not the time to start that game again. No, this is about getting the handlebars sorted in relation to the seat. I like riding with my hands on the drop bars (90% of the time) but the way the gold bike’s set up just now, it’s quite literally a pain in the neck. My guess is that I need more elevation from the stem. We swapped the original (new) one yesterday for something longer and higher but two and half hours on the road today told me that the configuration isn’t right. So I guess it’s back to basics: measure all the distances between the seat, the handlebars (top and drops) and the pedals to see where it’s different…

I could swap back to the old bike of course, but it’s in desperate need of a service. The gears change of their own accord, the tyres are totally worn out, and I need to change the brake pads. I’ve been hanging on for about a month until the time came to take the Goldie, thinking that I could maybe squeeze another five hundred miles out of it, but really, it needs some TLC in the pits. I could swap back for maybe a couple of days (and maybe I should) because I really, really want to nail another 200 mile week, the 92nd, and I’ve no intention of letting it slip now. Maybe tomorrow I’ll take the old wheels out and let the mind massage it through another 35 miles for old time’s sake. But it really does need to be in the workshop come Monday.

Back to the new wheels for a minute: there’s no other bike like it in Scotland. It looks gorgeous but that’s not the half of it. It’s the Rohloff gears in a gold frame that set it apart. There’s no rear derailleur: instead there are 14 gears hidden away in the hub. And if you decide to do a spot of freewheeling, then the whole world gets to know because it sounds like a diesel bike. Who needs a bell on the Irvine to Killie bike path when you come up behind the dog walkers: just stop peddling…

And it’s heavy: Not as heavy as the tourer that gave me a hernia back in 2014 when I was trying to smash KOM’s (King Of The Mountains) on a set of 33lb wheels but it’s not far behind: it’s all that metal sitting in the middle of the back wheel. I haven’t weighed it (I will, by the way) but I guess you won’t get much change out of 27 to 28 lb). Compare that to the 21lb I was on before: that’s what killing my legs.

C’est la vie…

But I’ve been here before (but hopefully never again because this will be my last new bike) and I’ll get through it. I have to.

Changing the subject completely, we had a bloke in this week to talk about pensions. I’ll be 65 in March and everything’s due to kick in. But there was something he said that really hit home and maybe it affects the long term future of the bike ride. He said that in his (long) experience, the years between 65 and 75 are your best retirement years: they are the ones where you have to do all of things that you want to do: before it all goes downhill. So here’s a question: do I really want to be cycling 200 miles a week for the next five years? Sure the exercise is probably doing me the world of good, and maybe it’s keeping my brain sharp too, but with his words ringing in my ears, I’m thinking that maybe one more year of the big time will be enough. Maybe 50,000 miles will be time to call it a day. Then just tootle about on the Goldie for pleasure instead of punishing myself. Enough may finally be enough…

Doing the sums, 2017 has produced the biggest bag of miles since the start: 8000 before the end of October for the first time. I don’t see me getting to 10K before Hogmanay for the reasons described above, but another 9K by this time next year seems very much within reach: that would take the clock to 44K. I think if I could close LCFN out at 50,000 miles inside six years, having originally set out to do 25,000 in four (and a half) years, that would be a decent result. And that would still leave me another nine years of quality retirement years before I lose my marbles.

And see that stuff about never giving up: that stuff about taking a step back when shit happens, and working your way through it: well that was yesterday. By 7am, I’d bricked my Galaxy S8+ by reading an article on LinkedIn then clicking on one of the comments. I wasn’t exactly in panic mode, but for about fifteen minutes, I was contemplating refunds and the like. That was before I logged on to the laptop and Googled ‘Galaxy S8 won’t power on’ or something like that, and I found out how to do a soft reset (as opposed to a factory reset): that got me up and running again. So you know what I did then… I went back to that same article, because by now I was suspicious (there is no bigger cynic in the world than me). I clicked on the same comment at the foot of the same article, and guess what: it bricked my phone again. Same recovery procedure. I didn’t do it a third time.

As if that wasn’t enough yesterday, I took Goldie out, intending to bag a day at the seaside, and instead happened across a famer cutting his hedge. I should have stopped and turned around: a schoolboy error. I foolishly assumed that with a brand new pair of Marathon Pluses on the bike, I’d be okay: nope, I got a puncture. Actually, make that two. Those bloody famers do my head in: sure, I know they’ve got to cut their hedges, but Shirley they should also be required (by law) to remove the shite off the road before they head for home. I was in Neil’s bike shop today and he was telling me that he’d had five cyclists in today alone, all victims of the dreaded thorns from lazy farmers. My resolution from hereonin will be to dismount as soon as I encounter a farmer’s minefield in future, and walk the wheels through the mines: or just pick the bike up and carry it: up the middle of the road and make the motors have to wait (in protest).

I kind of hoped that heading out on Goldie would have been a celebration of sorts: but it’s not turned out that way. I’ll be tinkering again tomorrow: I might even drop the seat by a quarter of an inch to reduce the stress in the back of my neck. And I suspect that when I get home, the measuring tape will be coming out in earnest: old versus new: just where are the key differences. Putting the Rohloff on the old bike wasn’t an option because of the big fat spindle that it comes with: it’s not compatible with the frame: so I guess I’ll just have to work through the transition instead.

They say that a change is as good as a rest: far from it…