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Stuff related to cycling, bycicles, rides, etc
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15 agosto
2015

Got a new bike (II)

Well, actually I got it one year ago O:)

My new Kona Jake 2014

What can I say? I guess the cycling bug bit me already and now there is nothing we can do to stop it.

Since I got the Giant Argento two years ago, I started to go on slightly longer rides. That bike felt (and still feels) great, it was a good choice back then but, at one point, I started to feel like if I'd need something more road oriented. The Argento is a really nice bike for moving around town and for some relaxing offroad rides (specially when we talk about mud/sand/dirt slippery paths) but as soon as you try to go on a road for more than 20-30 kms, and specially if you want to go a bit faster, it is not the best choice.

And so my search for a new bike began.

I remember it pretty well, what I wanted was a Kona Sutra 2014. A lovely but strong touring bicycle I could use to go for long haul touring, on lots and lots of kms. Something sturdy I could pack with tons of things I'd need on big adventures out there. A touring bike seemed also a good choice for towing Lara's trailer when going on family rides (wider gears range FTW).

The Kona Sutra, 2014 model

The 2014 Kona Sutra

Soon after, I added a couple of more choices to the list, the Raleigh Sojourn 2014 and the Trek 520 2014. I spent a lot of time reading about touring bikes, specs, recommendations... and a lot more time comparing models, specs, looking into oppinions from other cyclists all over the internet.

The Raleigh Sojourn, 2014 model

The 2014 Raleigh Sojourn

The Trek 520, 2014 model

The 2014 Trek 520

I talked a lot about it with some friends, specially with betabug, George and Xurxo (no, those two are not the same person :-P). I heard their recommendations and suggestions carefully, trying to learn as much as I could from their knowledge and previous experience (George already recommended me to go for the Argento one year before all this, and it was a good recommendation).

One day I discovered that "has to be a touring bike" was not a requirement anymore. There were some other things to take in account when chosing a road bike. I also started to look regularly for offers and special prices on new bikes. This was exactly one year ago, some of the big brands were publishing information about the new models they were going to have for 2015, which meant some models from 2014 were offered online at really nice prices.

I guess it was near the middle of august when I have more or less decided which bike I was going to buy. I was a bit influenced by both betabug's previous good experience with Kona bikes and all the good/positive reviews their bikes have on the Internet, and their Jake cyclocross bike (which is the one betabug has too) looked like a very nice bike.

The Kona Jake, 2014 model

The 2014 Kona Jake

Cyclocross bikes catched my eye as an option because their geometry looks closer to a racing road bike (which sounded cool for riding faster) but they have some details like slightly higher bottom brackets and more wheel clearance on the forks or holes on the frame where you can attach front/back racks, which make them suitable for touring, going on offroad excursions, etc.

They seem like a good "do it all" alternative, but still keeping a road spirit (specially when talking about gears), so in the end I decided that I was going to get either the Kona Jake 2014 or the Genesis Croix de Fer 2014, whichever I could find a good price first.

The Genesis Croix de Fer, 2014 model

The 2014 Genesis Croix de Fer

Finally I ordered the bike online from Bikester (which service is really good, I'll write about that on a separate post) and I got it delivered in the beginning of september (2014, near one year ago). I remember the feelings back then, it was like being a little kid again and getting a christmas present, sooo excited!.

Almost one year later, I've ridden the bike a bit (strava says 1,254.9 kms, but I'd say 150-200 kms more.), I've added addons to it (lights, SPD pedals, fenders, some bags) and definetely I've enjoyed it a lot. I'm really happy I got this bike!

I'm not going to write here about specs or technical details (you can get that from Kona's website, here: http://2014.konaworld.com/jake.cfm ). What I can tell you is that the bike is really nice to ride, even when going uphill you don't have to be a trained cyclist to keep going on. It is sturdy indeed (not a single problem in the past 12 months) and it is good enough when pulling Lara too.

Here I've added a small album with pictures of the bike:

http://e-shell.org/img/kona_jake_2014

Posted by wu at 11:08 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
23 agosto
2015

My personal review of the Kona Jake 2014

... short story: I love it!

So, now that I've officially announced my new bicycle, which I've been riding for almost a year now, it is time already to give a more detailed review of it.

The specs for the 2014 model of the Kona Jake can be found here:

http://2014.konaworld.com/jake.cfm

I'm not an expert, in fact I'm pretty clueless about techie stuff regarding bicycles, so take your time going through them and getting your own conclusions.

My Jake's size is 53cm. I can't tell you exactly the measures/distances of the seat post, reach, etc (I didn't measure them, I just tried until I got to something that fits me and feels comfortable). What I can do is show you a pic of what the bike looks like now:

Me and the Jake, so you can get an idea of the height/distances

The size fits me perfectly (I'm around 1.75 meters tall). I had to set up the bike myself, as I ordered it online and bikester sent the bike partially disassembled. I had to put things like the handlebar and seat in place. I knew some basic details on how to do such a setup and bikester included a nice instructions manual in the package, just in case I could have any questions.

Setting up the Jake for the first time Adjusting the handlebar Almost there, only the seat and some adjustments left

Changing gears is really smooth, even if you miss lowering down gears before going on a steep uphill. In one year I only had to adjust gears once, because I found that lowering down from one of the highest gears was skipping on one cog. After reading a bit about it and watching some videos on youtube I was able to adjust them myself.

A closer view of the cassette A closer view of the chainrings

I'm not a very trained cyclist and I was a bit wary of the gears ratio (34/50 chainrings and 11-30 on the back), specially because the Argento has a 48/38/28 (triple!) and 14-34 (nice granny gear) ratio. I thought that I was going to miss those lower gears from the Argento, but I did not. The Jake is much much lighter than the Giant, and so even going up (so far) I did not need such lower gears. In fact, after some time riding the Jake, I've found that I usually don't go to lowest gears when doing some climbing (well, that's how it is supposed to be, right? your body gets used to it).

Starting on 2014, the Jake comes with a 2x10 crank, instead of a triple, but the front derailleur still has three positions. The shifter lets you set it to those three positions. One puts the chain on the bigger chainring, another one puts the chain on the smaller chainring and the third one puts the derailleur in a position that fits better the smaller gears. If you don't use that third, lower, position you would hear some sounds caused by some friction on the chain (against the derailleur).

The breaks are ok. Mechanical disc brakes that were really really noisy during the first few rides. And when I say noisy I mean it, pulling the breaks while going down fast caused some annoying, ghost-like, screaming. They are good anyway and they do not *block* the wheel as quick as rim breaks, so they feel a bit more safer (preventing slips and falls).

One detail about those breaks is that they have to be adjusted quite often. It happens that the pads stay too close to the disc a lot of times, making noises and adding some friction while riding. Such adjustments can be done by yourself, but they are a PITA, quite often you have to get the bike to an LBS or some professional hands to take care of it (it happened to me just yesterday).

The break levers and the gear shifters are located in the same place, which is a different setup than the one you can find in touring bikes (my first choice for the new bike in the beginning) where bar-end shifters are used. I've never tried those bar-end shifters, but the tiagra shifters from the jake work really well.

A closer view of handlebar (with addons) and the break levers

The tires are strong and durable. If you look for reviews about them on the Internet, you will find they are classified as do-it-all Hybrid/Touring/Commuter tires almost everywhere. I've ridden on asphalt/tarmac, dirt/muddy paths, gravel roads, stony trails and even on sand by the sea. They performed nicely on every surface and I had no punctures at all (so far).

With gravel, I've found that some times the smaller, really tiny, stones get stuck in the tread pattern and then I had to remove them by hand.

A closer look at the rear wheel, part of the frame and casette A view of the front wheel and handlebar, taken while resting a bit on one of the rides

I've added some addons to the bike during the past few months. First a couple of lights, a small led red light on the back (attached to the seat post) and one of the smaller lights from cateye on the front (handlebar). I hadn't ride at night (yet), but I did ride at first hours in the morning, a bit before sunrise, and the cateye light was more than enough to light the road in front of me.

Next, I added some fenders. I got black SKS chromoplastics, the P45 to provide enough clearance for the 32mm tires I've right now. Adding the fenders was fun, but it took me some time to find a way to fit the stays near the front wheel break.

Closeup of the bent fender stay to bypass the front wheel disc break

I also added a saddle bag and, ocasionally, a small frame bag. The frame bag has been useful in winter, on longer rides, as the rain jacket fits perfectly in one pocket and I can bring some extra food in the other pocket. Also, it has a special plastic pocket for the phone, which is nice (as I don't have any cycling computer yet). You can see them both in the gallery, here:

http://e-shell.org/img/kona_jake_2014

The bike, as it came from Bikester, didn't have any pedals. I bought some regular, cheap, pedals at first. Then I bought Shimano SPD pedals and Shimano shoes (MTB-style ones, more like boots than racing shoes, as with those you can still walk for a while if needed). The SPD pedals made a huge difference. At first it can seem a bit scary to have your feet attached to the bike, but attach (clip) and detach (unclip) is really easy, after a couple of rides it is totally natural, and the difference when pedaling is amazing (no more slippery pedals!!).

If you want to read a more technical, detailed review of the Jake (2013 model, but most of it fits the 2014 model too, I do agree with most of the comments there) you can take a look here:

http://www.bikeforums.net/commuting/842141-2013-kona-jake-88-mile-review.html

Another short review (2015 model this time) here:

https://essiep64.wordpress.com/2015/02/14/review-kona-jake-2015/

As a summary, the bike has been great on every aspect so far. Reliable, sturdy but light and fast. After all this time I've got so used to it that when I've to ride a different bike (like the Argento or the old MTB) I'm not really confortable on them. I'm not sure if it is due to the bike's geometry, the dropdown handlebar or the overall position on the bike, but even for commuting or family rides, I do prefer to ride the Jake.

Posted by wu at 13:12 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
05 diciembre
2015

Second chance for a cargo donkey

... or ... I have a new bike (III)

The Hack-2, the day it got a new bar tape

Yes... I've got another bike. Yes, yes, I've 2 road (CX actually) bikes now. No, I cannot ride them all at the same time... I'm perfectly aware of that.

I'm not going to explain here the N+1 rule. If the cycling bug bite you already, either you already know the theory, or you soon will know about it.

I'm going to talk about my (not so) new bicycle, a Saracen Hack 2 (2015 model, which is not currently available on Saracen's website, but here you have a review of that model: http://wideopenmag.co.uk/2014/11/saracen-hack-2-review )

Why the f*** do you need another bike??

This is probably the question most of you would be asking right now. Well, the main reason behind the idea of getting another bike is that we travel a lot from Lugo (where we live) to Vilagarcia de Arousa (where Dolo's parents live) and every time we go there, I bring the Jake with us. That means preparing the bikes rack on the car and some extra packing before leaving. It also means driving 200-and-something kms with the bike exposed to rain, mosquitoes and all kind of other things.

The Jake on the bike rack on our car

Something that can be done, but not something you want to do too often, specially in winter in a place like Galicia.

So, the idea of getting another bike that could stay in Vilagarcia came to mind. Something not too expensive (initial budget idea was around 400 eur) and maybe look for something used, try to find something a bit older, with good components and in good shape, instead of gettting something new with really cheap components and probably not so good on the mid-long term.

And so the search began... as soon as posible, as I really wanted to have the spare bike here and ready for mid-november. Betabug was going to come for a visit (one of our work sprints) and having the bike here already would mean going out together on some rides.

If you are into cycling and you like bicycles I bet you know that feeling, that sensation of "wooohooo, let's look at bikes and bikes and bikes!!. Endlessly, creating lists of posible bikes to buy, compare them, look for more bikes, compare a bit more, then try to find some good offers...

I don't know how it would have been 10 or 15 years ago, without the Internet, but nowadays you have soooo many options right there, in your computer...

There are plenty of online websites that sell all kind of bikes, new bikes, new bikes from previous years at incredible discounts, used bikes, vintage bikes, refurbished bikes...

I don't know how many bikes I looked at, or how many sites, but in the end I started to make a clearer picture of the bike I'd like to get. If you read the post I wrote about the Jake, you already know that back then I had to make a choice between the Jake and the Genesis Croix de Fer 2014, so I started looking for second hand croix de fer on the online markets.

There are plenty of websites where you can look for used bikes in the UK (I aimed at that specific market, as it should be easier to find Genesis bikes there) but in the end I found myself always looking in ebay.co.uk. I started conversations with some of the people that had their bikes for sale there, specially because shipping those bikes to spain could be an issue for some of them (I even remember one that did not let me enter my bid because my ebay account was registered in Spain). The problem with the Croix de Fer (and even some other models like the Equilibrium) is that, even used, they are not cheap. Most of them were simply out of budget for me. So I kept myself looking for it.

And, just one day, I found this Saracen Hack 2 bike. The starting bid was low, 300 pounds (400-something euro), a lot cheaper than the stock price for it new (around 950 pounds, 1300-something euro). I didn't know that model (or even the brand) then, so I looked up the specs on the Internet and I looked for some reviews. It turned out that it was a CX bike with specs quite similar to the Jake (quite, quite similar) so it really catched my eye (also, I totally fell in love with the look of it ;-P).

I went again through the page on ebay, checking the description (sounded good) and the pictures (not so good, really dark pics). The auction was going to end in a few hours, so without too much thinking I did bid and I totally forgot about it.

Next day I had an email from ebay - "Congratulations, you won this auction!"

"WTF!" - I thought - "How can it be??"

I had set a really lower bid but nobody else bid, so I won.

First thing I did afterwards was get in contact with the previous owner of the bike (Matt), to arrange payment and shipping. We arranged the shipping with sendbike.com, a small company based in the UK that sends bikes all over the globe (using UPS). They have really really nice prices and they can even provide you with all you need to pack the bike. They have also very good support, in case you need help with anything. I totally recommend them if you need to ship a bike from the UK.

The box as I got it from UPS

And then, one day, the bike arrived.

But... at first sight, after pulling it from the box... I got totally dissapointed. Completely dissapointed.

Matt did mention some minor scratches in the top tube, he even provided me with some pics, but the scratches looked much worse in person:

A closer look at the scratches on the top tube

And he forgot to mention a big, big scratch on the head tube (it looks like something caused by cable friction):

A closer look at the big scratch on the head tube

Also, the specs of the Hack 2 say it should have a Shimano Tiagra 4601 rear derailleur, but this one came with a low-end Shimano Sora 3500 (not sure if the SS or the GS though) instead. This was nasty, as it was not something described in the description of the product in ebay, and Matt did not mention it in our previous conversations.

The Sora rear derailleur, as it came packed up

Finally, he had told me that he would include rack and fenders too with the bike, which sounded cool when I did read it on his message, but wasn't so cool when I realized the screws attaching the rack to the bike were damaged severely. So severely that I wasn't able to remove the rack at all. One of them was even broken, without head.

A closer look at the rack, from the side of the broken, headless, screw

The wheels were not in the box. Matt was not able to put them inside as there was not enough space for everything, so he sent the wheels in a separate package that arrived one week later. Later on, when I found out about the problem with the rack and the screws, I did realize why he could not remove the rack (which probably caused the problem with not having enough space in the box).

When the wheels arrived, I realized that the back wheel was not the stock one, but a Mavic Aksium Disk One and the bar tape wasn't also the stock one (black), which I found quite strange, for a bike bought on late november, 2014.

The bike after I assembled all the parts and components

And so I started to be worried about it. Really really worried. I couldn't stop thinking that maybe the bike suffered a big crash, which could have led to those replacements (back wheel, rear derailleur, bar tape) and the scratches all over the top tube. A big crash could also explain the damaged screws on the rack...

So I talked about it with Matt, who was really really nice and answered all my questions fast and politely. He even sent me the receipt/invoce from the original seller, as a proof of his ownership.

Basically the poor thing was used as a cargo donkey through the streets of London. Used for commuting and to carry on one of those child/kid seats you put on different places on the bike. It got some small hits when putting the cargo on/off and it seems the tiagra rear derailleur wore off.

What could I do?. I liked the bike and all, I got it on a really nice price... but I was really worried about it. So next step was to bring it to the LBS (MTC bicis) for a complete checkup. When I went there again to pick up the bike, they told me the bike was ok. The frame was perfectly fine and those were simply minor scratches. The gears and breaks were ok (front disc break was a bit bent, but ok) and they couldn't find anything to be really worried about.

They removed the rack, sawing the screws. I won't be able to put a rack again on it, but that was not the idea to begin with. One nice detail is that the rack survived the surgery, so it can be used in other bikes (spare parts!).

And so I did ride it.

Me on the Hack, betabug on the Jake, on the road to Ézaro Me on the Hack, on the road to Carnota Me on the Hack, on a small secondary road from Corcubión to Fisterra Me on the Hack with Luis and betabug, riding on the Ribeira de Piquin

And I had lots of fun riding it, really. The bike feels good, almost the same as the Jake, with some differences. It is a bit shorter/smaller (a couple of cms here and there) and it feels lighter (maybe being a bit shorter + the carbon fork?). The gears work perfectly fine and the disc breaks work quite good (with the same issues as the ones on the Jake, noisy and easily deadjustable). One thing I did change as soon as I got the wheels were the tires. I replaced the stock Schwalbe Spicer 35mm with the Freedom Ryder 32mm that came with the Jake (which has now Continental 4 Seasons 28mm).

We had some nice rides during betabug's visit (but that's another story) and after some riding, we found out (well, r0sk actually found out) that the breaks were in the opposite position, that is, the rear break was on the left hand and the front break on the right hand, just like in a motorbike.

O_O!!!

It seems the position of the breaks is related to the way of the road we drive, so it is different in brittish countries (UK, Australia, etc). More info, here:

http://bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/4912/why-is-the-front-brake-lever-on-the-right-if-you-drive-on-the-left-and-vice-ve

Fun fact: I did not realize at all about it. Lucky me I did not end on the floor because of improper breaking.

Myth busted: You can go fast as crazy on your disc-breaks bike and then pull strongly only the front break, you won't jump over the bike and crash on the floor (tested!).

After such a finding, I got the bike again to the LBS, to change the breaks (and ask how it could be they did not notice the first time I brought it there!). As the breaks cables go directly below the tape bar, I replaced the blue one with a new one in red, which (imho) fits the bike better.

Then we brought the bike to Vilagarcia, to its new home, and I did a test ride by the Ocean, just for fun!

Riding the hack towards Vilaxoan, by the Atlantic Ocean Crossing the bridge to Illa de Arousa on the Hack

I think this has been quite a change for this bike, from London commuting to mid (and hopefully soon long) rides on open roads by the sea and the Ocean...

Posted by wu at 11:53 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
11 febrero
2016

Got my cycling federation Card/ID

one more step in the cycling world!

My cycling federation card/ID!!

Last year I decided that I really wanted to get more into cycling. I totally love it. The cycling bug bit me for good and now I can't (don't want to) think of a live without it.

And so I started to ride more, increasing the number of rides per week and the duration of those rides. I did it gradually, too slow maybe, and let me tell you that finding time to go out is really hard some times (specially having a 4 years old daughter :-P).

I also got some proper cycling clothes, cheap stuff from Decathlon at first, some more cheap stuff from Lidl afterwards, and some better stuff from brands like sportful too (also, some good stuff made in Italy should arrive soon...).

Then I decided to join a cycling club. I had some conversations with my friend Xurxo about it. He had been in the cycling world for much longer than me and he knows a lot of cyclists, teams and clubs in Lugo, so I asked him for a recommendation on which club I should join. He recommended me the Club Ciclista Ribeiras do Miño, where he has some good friends. He thought I'd be comfortable among them, and he was right!

And finally, earlier this year, I decided to join a Cycling Federation. Being federated has multiple benefits, you get insurance in case of accident, legal counsel, access to races and events... and, best of all, your wallet gets a bit lighter every year!

Some days ago I finally got the card/ID you saw at the beginning of this post. There it says that I'm now a member of the Galician Cycling Federation, the Spanish Cycling Federation and, in the end, a member of the Union Cycliste Internationale.

Wow, who would have guessed this 5 years ago... o_O!

Posted by wu at 23:52 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
27 marzo
2016

2015 - A year in cycling pictures

Taking a look back through the pictures, I had lots of fun during last year

http://e-shell.org/cycling/2015/prevs/20150809_100808.jpg

I've prepared a small gallery with some pictures of what 2015 was for me, related to cycling.

According to strava, I've cycled 2040 Kms in 89 hours and 40 minutes, with a total of 24650 meters of elevation gain in 58 rides. I did some more cycling, as I don't track commuting or family rides with strava, but I guess that won't make a big difference in the numbers.

Depending on how much you cycle maybe you could find those numbers too short/less or maybe you could find them awesome. For me it has been a nice improvement over previous years numbers. I'd love to go out more time, further distances, longer rides, but even so, it has been awesome almost every single time.

http://e-shell.org/cycling/2015/thumbs/20150222-1.jpg http://e-shell.org/cycling/2015/thumbs/20150411-5.jpg http://e-shell.org/cycling/2015/thumbs/20150711-5.jpg http://e-shell.org/cycling/2015/thumbs/20150821_090825.jpg http://e-shell.org/cycling/2015/thumbs/20151111_120119.jpg http://e-shell.org/cycling/2015/thumbs/20151114-056.png

You can check the gallery here:

http://e-shell.org/cycling/2015

I hope you will enjoy it.

Posted by wu at 07:28 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
25 abril
2016

The 100

Finally, I did a +100km ride, and in the best possible company

100 ride

10 of April, 2016

The alarm should ring at 07:00 (EEST), but I wake up way before that. I'm too excited to stay in bed, so I get out of the room as stealthy as I can, trying not to bother Oscar, sleeping in the other bed.

I left the clothes ready the day before, in the living room, so there is where I go after preparing breakfast (coffee, milk, bread and cheese).

Breakfast, coffee, milk, bread and cheese Preparing the coffee Preparing the bread and the cheese Having breakfast

I take it easy, eating slowly. It is always really hard to have breakfast so early, but today I manage quite well and I eat it all up. The bike is ready already, I put my cycling clothes on and I double check again that I have everything with me (Phone, Garmin, HR Sensor, GoPro, spare tube, tools...). Then I pick up Sascha's Jake to get outside.

Getting dressed with the cycling clothes (1) Getting dressed with the cycling clothes (2) Taking everything I need with me Almost ready for the start of the ride

Today we have planned to go on a longer ride together, Sascha and me. We will do the Apollonas round (clockwise), a route that covers something like 100 kms around the island of Naxos. We will pass by beaches, villages, valleys and mountains.

Leaving Damarionas, the road is waiting for me!

And I am pretty sure we will have looots of fun

Meeting sascha at the crossroad to Damarionas To agia ana, passing by the windmills To agia ana, passing by one of the small churches

I meet Sascha at the turn to Damarionas, the little village where we are staying. We say hello and we start riding towards the south, to the beaches. This is the easiest part of the ride, almost going down all the way down to Agia Anna, where we stop for a moment. It is near 08:46 and it is already really warm, so we decide to remove some clothes. I do remove the not-so-warm long sleeve tshirt, replacing it with a more fresh short sleeve one under my jersey/maillot. I also remove the scarf and I'm tempted to remove the fingerless gloves too. In the end I decide to keep them.

Taking the bikes to the beach, by the watch tower Taking the bikes to the beach, sand and sea

Soon after restarting, we notice that they are doing a lot of work on the road there. Some of the streets/roads are blocked, so we cannot go on them. Following Sascha's idea, we take the bikes on our shoulders and we do a small detour over the beach.

Towards Hora, passing by the beach Towards Hora, on the road by the airport

For the next 10 or 15 minutes we ride on flat land towards Hora, where we stop for a moment to say hi to Giannis. I ask him if he could keep the long sleeve tshirt, as I'm quite sure I will not need it at all.

Giannis, from naxosbikes.com

It is around 09:30, and the sun is not yet hitting us hard. I feel awesome, I have lots of energy and the whole idea of this ride gives me an extra push. The road towards Apollonas is lovely. On my left side I've the sea, which I can view from above, like a bird flying by the coast. On my right side I can see mountains, hills, valleys... sooo beautiful, mind-blowing sometimes.

This road, as almost every road I've seen in Naxos, is sneaky. It twists, like a snake trying to find his way through the island. I don't know how many 360º turns I'm taking here, but I can tell you I'm enjoying each one of them

Sascha and me left hora on the coast road with a mountain in the background Ahead of me the road that will get me into the valley, surrounded by mountains After getting out of the valley, we can see the sea again Fast enough to remove my hands from the handlebar A big rock on the right side, as if a rock avalanche was going to happen The sea to the left, the rocks on the right, going down fast Still the sea to the left, Sascha is on my right, passing fast by a small white church We go down on a snake of a road, approaching Apollonas finally

In Apollonas we do a stop for drinks and eat something, a toast, which for them is a big ham+cheese sandwich with french fries. I also have a biiiig mug of coffee and milk. We have all this sitting by the sea, with the beach just by our feet. We talk. I don't know exactly for how long we have been friends, but I enjoy every time I can sit and talk with him for a while. We talk about work, cycling, about life.

The cafe at Apollonas, where we stop for coffee Coffee break at Apollonas, sitting by the beach Coffee break at Apollonas, cheers!

Once we are done with the food and the drinks, we refill the bottles with fresh water and we take the road again. The hardest part of the ride is just ahead of us, waiting patiently.

Going up on a snake of a road, closer to the big rocks

It is 12:00 now. We can fully feel the sun on us. We have done a bit more than 50 kms already. I don't feel tired, but I'm wondering how I will perform in the long climb.

We are doing fine, but shortly after leaving Apollonas we do a short stop, just after the first serious climb. Sascha knows the road better and he suggest to do that stop to gather some breath (and take some pictures) before going into the real thing.

Short stop before the hardest part, Sascha looks quite happy One of the beautiful 360 turns on the coast road

I don't feel so powerful now, but it is totally fun going up on this snake of a road. I'm enjoying every meter, every push of the pedals, every moment of suffering on the legs. We took it easy and Sascha looks perfectly ok with it.

At one point, before Skado, he is faster than me. He keeps on with that magic, hypnotic spinning rythm of his, but I know perfectly well I would burn myself too fast if I try to keep up with that rythm, so I let go.

Going towards Skado, nice little village in the mountains

I take my time, I do find my rythm and I keep on with it, slowly, steady.

A bit later I find him waiting for me, sitting on the shade of a house. I'm glad we stop, give some time to my legs to recover a bit, drink some water.

Waiting for me in Skado

All the kms we have done, the climbing, the tired muscles... nothing can't compare now to the feel of the sun on me. I can't imagine how this would be in July, or August, with a full summer sun hitting you with no mercy. When things get a bit easier (~6%, that is) it is bearable. I can gain some speed and the air and wind around me helps cooling myself down a bit. When things get serious (~11%, that is), I'm cooked, boiling on my sweat. And it is middle of April, crazy.

Entering the village of Skado

We pass Skado, the end of the hardest part is just there.

Passing through the village of Skado

"Just one last effort, keep it rolling, spin your legs, spin, spin spin!" - I hear myself saying.

I notice the GoPro have run out of battery already, but I have no idea when it did stop recording exactly.

Now a stronger wind joins us on our journey. Obviously it is not blowing from behind, if you know what I mean. I grab the drops, lowering my position on the bike and keep myself pushing the pedals, trying not to push too much against the wind.

Suddenly, the mountain gives us shelter. The wind is coming from the other side and the rock is stopping it. It is the last part of it - "Go for it" - I tell myself again. I put higher gears on the back and I stand on the pedals, pushing harder, dancing with the bike. I gain some speed, just before that 360º turn in front of me. Here I am, in the middle of the turn, standing, pushing hard - "Let's catch up the swiss climber!" - talking to me again, just in time to get slapped by reality. I'm not covered by the mountain anymore, I'm out of the 360 turn and without shelter the wind gives me a blow that felt like a wrestler grabbing my seat post and pulling me back.

I fight, this time I fight the wind. I don't care if I'll burn, I'm almost there, there is just a bit more and then it will be flat and all the way down back home.

I've survived. I'm in Apiranthos, back behind Sascha's wheel again. He waited for me and I catched up on the flat part before this wonderful village. Now it is time to go up, just a little bit more, before starting all the way down. I stick my front wheel behind Sascha's back wheel. He pushes, I push, he spins, I spin. It works, I get the lift I need, at least until I notice a pain in my left leg. A cramp, yeah, it has to happen. I should have known that I cannot keep up with that fast spinning.

Luckily it just go away with a short stop, just a couple of minutes and some quick stretching.

I'm home now. The way down from Apiranthos was... down. Easy, fast. In order to pass the psicological barrier of the 100km we had to go on the road to Moni for a while, then back, but it was ok. Sascha did stop at his place in Kaloxylos and I came straight to Damarionas (a bit more climbing for a good finish).

I feel awesome, tired for sure, but better than what I expected. Now I have to do this more often!

The garmin showing some stats from the ride. The garmin showing some more stats from the ride.

Posted by wu at 21:42 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
25 junio
2016

Cyberpunk cycling

all geared up and connected!

A view of the road from Portomarin to Lugo from my bicycle

A couple of days ago I went on a ride in the morning. One of the usual routes I do around Lugo, first going southeast towards the mountains, then turning west, then northeast back to Lugo. Around 58 kms on both main/bigger roads and small and lovely secondary roads.

Something I do quite often this days, but this time something was different.

This time I had fun x 10. I felt so good, it was so much fun, I couldn't stop smiling. I even laughed out loud some times. It was like having an extra boost of adrenaline. It was real good fun there and, at one moment, I thought that I'd love Dolo to be there with me, having exactly that same sensation, feeling the joy and the fun.

"That won't happen any time soon" - I thought. I know, I know, not everybody likes the same things, same sports... but I thought it would be really nice to be able to share that with her.

And then an idea came to mind, like a lighting strike: SimStim!.

For those of you who hadn't read (yet) Neuromancer (seriously, go read it!), a SimStim allows one of the characters on the novel (Case) to be able to connect to another character (Molly) and live her experiences as his own, seeing what she sees, feeling what she feels (pain, joy, surprise, etc).

That'd be just perfect for sharing all the joy I had the other day while riding my bike. And, who knows, the future is just there, around the corner...

Posted by wu at 08:31 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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