Auspicious timing ? Taking delivery of my new bike on the day the Tour de France started from Yorkshire ? Probably not, but I’m certainly looking forward to some great new adventures, even if I’ll always be an amateur rather than champion cyclist.
I recently set a new goal to cycle the length of the UK from Lands End to John O’Groats, which I’m planning to do with my nephew next summer. Not having a road or touring bike I did some research and decided that a good quality, steel-framed touring bike was the way to go. The Dawes Galaxy stands out as being the classic touring bike and given that the ‘Plus’ version now comes with disc brakes (it seems that this is the way that all bikes are going), the upgraded Galaxy seemed an obvious choice.
I’m aiming to get bike fit over the summer and use the Galaxy for the Applecross Duathlon I’ve entered in mid-September. I’ll also commute to work on the days I happen to be working locally, then train more seriously for the LEJOG from next Easter. The LEJOG planning hasn’t started yet – it’s really just an aspiration at this stage – but I’m looking forward to researching it. I took my new bike out for a spin yesterday on a 23-mile ride and have to say it was really good – a comfortable and smooth ride.
This is perhaps the subject of a future post but I found the process of buying a touring bike (and associated gear) very frustrating. It seems that bike shops seem to cater for either road or mountain cyclists. If you want something out of the ordinary (not that cycle touring is a niche activity of course) then bike shops might have one or two sitting in the corner. Want to compare different makes and models and take them for a test ride ? Forget it. I found shops either stocked Dawes or Ridgebacks but never the two. They’d happily order one in for a non-returnable £50 deposit but that then ties you in to buying from that particular shop. Not surprisingly, I was unable to compare the Galaxy with the equivalent Ridgeback in the same shop and decided in the end to go with the traditional, classic bike. No bike shop in Central Scotland had a Galaxy in stock so I ended up buying ‘blind’ and instead trusting the expertise of the staff in the bike, in this case Hardie Bikes in Cairneyhill. Their years of experience in measuring customers for the perfect frame size certainly shone through. None of the arrogance, inexperience or lack of helpful advice found among staff in most of the other bike shops I visited.
Rant over (for now). Instead, I’ll concentrate on enjoying my new bike.