Category Archives: gears

Give me my bike back

Near Platrand, South Africa

Near Platrand, South Africa

I want my bike back

Maybe South Africa doesn’t want me to cycle? And I want my bike back?

Staying with my step granddaughter here, gorgeous weather mostly, but . . . .

The only bike is an old heavy mountain bike. Only three gears working on the back cassette and they keep slipping. Three on the front, but squealing and complaining, plus desperately hard to change up. Is it worth trying to adjust, probably not as just an hour on the bike is enough anyway and I could make it worse

On the first ride out no pump to be found to blow up the tyre so a visit to the local garage. On the second ride out I discovered the kids had been practising skid stops so the tyre was well worn in places. About 2 miles from the house the tyre suddenly started bumping and then exploded, causing the guys at the building site next to me to gaze in astonishment. Especially as I’m sure a fossil like me in Lycra is a rare sight here. The cause, a big rip in the tyre. So off to the bike shop & had a tubeless tyre fitted.

Next ride out OK except I stopped for a pee on a dirt road up into the hills and I managed to puncture myself on a vicious thorn tree.

Next less than a mile from the end of a ride the new tyre suddenly slipped off the rim, luckily I was going slow at the time. There was no wire bead on it!!! Ah well.

So what conclusions? The cycling here is interesting! Folk seem friendly with lots of waves and cheery helloes. The way of life scenery is so different with the Drakensberg mountains in the background behind the savannah. The motorists are mainly very accommodating, and the roads excellent. Makes me yearn for my Specialized road bike instead of trundling along at 10 mph.

But I’m still so grateful I’ve been able to get out! The world seems so different on a bicycle.

Your Inner Grandad

Near the top of the 2000 ft climb up Bealach na Ba, Scotland

Near the top of the 2000 ft climb up Bealach na Ba, Scotland

Abbey Dore & Mill Lane, England

Abbey Dore & Mill Lane, England

 

Hills is hard, there’s no denying.

Just outside the village is a 9 percenter, go the other way and it’s 15.7%, a third road out is 8.5% and just a wee bit further out the hills get steep – I think you get the message. A couple of days ago I was down in England and borrowed my nephew’s touring bike. On the ride was a hill which ramped up to just under 20% – aghghghgh it was hard.

I see all my friends & bike acquaintances (young & old) puffing & panting, grinding their way up the hills. I just think – crazy!!! Get some lower gears and start enjoying the climbs. My bike came with a Shimano 105 cassette, but I’ve modified it to with a mountain bike one which has a 34 tooth rear (for the non techies – a big yin!!). What bliss it is to potter up all but the steepest climbs with my wee feet whizzing away. I don’t really understand all this macho stuff, this suffer for your ride business. I much prefer to be able to just let the legs do the stuff and I seem to get up the hills as fast as most and certainly less puffed.

I’ve even noticed that on the steep climbing days the professionals in the Tour de France, Vuelta, Giro etc are using bigger cogs.

So – embrace your inner grandad and make life a wee bit easier, cycling up grades is bad enough sometimes for us mere mortals, so maybe look at making it a tiny bit easier for yourself. You can always aim for harder climbs if you like the suffering!