A cunning plan for the start ... and why you don't need a road bike to ride sportives

A cunning plan for the start … and why you don’t need a road bike to ride sportives

I have been trying my hardest to keep this space updated as I prepare for the trip, but after a few eventful weeks it has proven hard to do so. After a couple of really interesting telephone conversations and a brilliant weekend I have just popped some veggie sausages in the oven with some chips, and finally got some space to write.

The preparations for the trip are going well now, and I will hopefully have a fully setup bike with most of the gear strapped on it by the weekend. This might not seem a long lead time for a round the world adventure, but it fits in with recent trips, I am pretty confident that I will set off with a bike and equipment that fits my needs on 3 September from Edinburgh.

Until then there’s still time to sort the last bits, once I am on the road (and on the various other paths) I will be focussing on writing and photography. In order to get ready and back on the bike properly, I volunteered to be a cyclic mechanic at the Tour o’ the Borders yesterday, a 120k/88k sportive on closed roads. Having not been on a road bike since a long time, I finally dusted off my Avanti Giro on Saturday to built it together in time for Sunday. The more I built, the more unrealistic it became to ride the bike on Sunday. And as I was hanging at the back anyway to help riders with little mechanical problems and flats, I didn’t need to be a on fast bike. At least that was the theory, reality looked somehow different.

After I ended up spending the whole Saturday in front of our house, open air work shops are pretty cool, I simply put the Surly Ogre in the back of the car, strapped a Spokwerks bar bag on and made my way down to Peebles for a 6.20am mechanic briefing. Seriously early in the morning. On the drive there I got more and more worried that I wouldn’t have to fix anything, as I wouldn’t be able to keep up with all those skinny-tired, fast bikes. At least I made it there in time, just to be running back to the car straight after, contrary to my thinking the race was actually scheduled to start at 6.50am. After packing spare tubes, tools and a collection of chain links into my backpack, there was simply no time to grab something to eat. All I had were two granola bars and energy bars I was supposed to hand out to the competitors, but how would I ever see one of them?

At seven I rolled out. There I was on a 32-18 singlespeed mountain bike with knobby tyres, Jones handlebars, a bell and Salsa Anything Cages. If there would have been ‘Don’t be such a roadie’ prize, I would have won it! At least it was a great test for me and the bike, doing 100 miles singlespeed a day will eventually involve cycling any type of road or track imaginable.

My fear of being too slow quickly vanished when I recognised that I was actually able to keep up with most riders, even though my legs were spinning twice as fast, or even more. And when it came to the famous Talla climb, I had a massive smile on my face. Suddenly the 32/18 gearing made total sense. After being held on the downhill due to an accident, I had perfected my technique and was able to keep up with most of the other riders fixing the off little mechanical problem, and motivating people struggling a wee bit. So if I was able to keep up with most riders here, surely cycling on the bike round the world would be doable?

After the sportive I needed further convincing, and took the Surly Ogre out for a spin on the Capital Trail, more precisely the section at Glentress. The only modification was releasing some pressure from the tyres, 50psi were a bit too much. Climbing up Janet’s Brae was sheer fun, as was doing parts of the red and blue runs, and to finish the whole day off with a nice cup of coffee and a piece of carrot cake. The handing of the bike on knarly singletrack was superb as well.

Heading home I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I am 100% sure to have chosen the right bike, the Surly Ogre is the most universal bike you can get. I climbs and descents fantastic, is super comfy and fast for what it is. Have you ever had a bike that can handle a sportive and a cross country race in the same setup. This one can, and I will get to ride it a long way!

Oh, and the start, we have a plan now! Me and Sophie will be heading to Yorkshire to the Singlespeed Uk Champs. leaving Edinburgh on Thursday 3 September. Saturday will be race day, before I have 4 more days to get to Swanage, where Charlie the Bikemonger will join for two more days to Salcombe. From Salcombe I will head on to France, with the aim to finish the first big leg in Europe in Lisbon. At least that’s the plan!

Have a look at all the pictures here