Sunday, March 20, 2011

Well it beats washing the car

Hooray - I have finally ridden the bike properly! I say properly because I have actually been on the bike round the park, but since that was as a means of keeping up with the kids while they cycled, I don;t really count it as a ride. Today was the first proper ride. Out along some local roads to a the nearest patch of dirt, mud and grass. Significantly it also has a small hillock on which you can pick up some reasonable speed over rough ground. Here at last then I can test some of the rideability of the bike and determine if there are any flaws in the build.

First impressions on riding out was that the bike was really comfortable. I had forgotten how much off the peg bikes are not designed round your length. So the distinct advantage of building from scratch was that I have been able to select component parts (mostly the headstem length) that factored in my body length. This also means my legs aren't cramping up under my arms, despite having a frame that is at the bottom of the size range for my height. There were two immediate issues that need some attention. The rear wheel isn't quite true, simple to fix. The gears have a habit of slipping, which isn't too serious and just needs some minor adjustment. Well at least I hope, but the worst case scenario is the shifter is more shot than it feels.

It felt odd to ride out with only 9 speed at your disposal, I kept reaching to change front rings and finding nothing on the handlebar. However, it really didn't dent my general speed over a rough, flat course. Very smooth would be my assessment of the overall ride, but I suspect it will glue itself to the ground on longer slopes. The front end did wash out in gravel on a twisty descent, but not seriously and no more than expected for a hardtail. I didn't push it downhill as there wasn't much and I had to be wary of other park users.

There is a pure joy in being able to do something and then look back and say I built that. I remember my uncle talking fondly in similar terms about a car and a motorbike he built from scratch. Its not the same sense of achievement of looking at a finished project and seeing others use it. Instead, because it is you using it there is a certain - connectedness.

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