Sunday 9 May 2010

Full dress rehearsal

What is it they say in the theatre? Bad dress rehearsal, good opening night? Well, if the opposite holds for a good dress rehearsal, I might be heading for a catastrophe.

I realised the other day that I’d yet to try out my Giant Defy road bike in credit-card touring configuration. As this is the bike I’m intending to use to tackle stages 1 and 3 of my cycling lap of the Czech Republic, I decided a test run around Prague would be a good idea. So, I loaded it up with the gear I’ll be taking (more on that in a later post), dragged it down the ten flights of stairs that lead from my flat to street level, and headed off for the river.

I must confess I went pretty gingerly at first, especially over the cobblestones and tramlines that are the cyclist’s lot in Prague. But the further I went, the more my confidence grew.

My road-bike-cum-tourer: Overall impression...

...and rear end

My first worry had been that my heels would catch on the bags as I pedalled along. They didn’t.

I’d also been concerned about the handling with that luggage on the back. But the bike wasn’t frisky at all. Very well-tempered, in fact.

Then I became convinced that something was going to work loose. Sure enough, a few miles into the ride a rattle developed. I stopped and checked all the bolts, but they were all rock solid. I set off again, and the rattling continued. The mystery was solved about an hour later when I remembered that the handle of my frame-mounted pump has a habit of unlocking itself. A quick twist soon sorted that out.

Another minor rattle was coming from the map holder, but a bit of ad-hoc padding easily got rid of that as well. I’m very pleased with this bit of kit. I’d originally planned to use my handlebar bag, which has a map compartment on the top, but when I tried to install it on the road bike I found that the gear cables got in the way. The KLICKfix Sunny Handlebar Map Holder is the answer - it’s very lightweight, it allows me to navigate without having to stop and dig out the map, and it uses the same handlebar adapter as my handlebar bag. I couldn’t get hold of one in Prague, but Dotbike supplied one from the UK with the minimum of fuss.

What about the gearing? The gears on a road bike don’t go as low as those on an MTB or a tourer, which means hills can be harder work. I deliberately tested myself and the bike on the long climb from Vrané nad Vltavou to Zvole on the outskirts of Prague. Again, no problem. I didn’t even have to resort to bottom gear, which means I should be OK on all but the very steepest slopes. And if the inclines get too unkind, I can always get off and walk (oh, the humiliation!).

So, a surprisingly successful dry run. And to hell with all that superstition of the stage. I’m going on a bike ride, not putting on the Scottish Play.

Here's hoping I break a leg!

1 comment:

Karen said...

Given your planning, I have every confidence that you will be Amundsen not Scott! Go Simon go.

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