Firstly, our apologies we’ve been away for a while. We’ve been suffering the post travel blues. After leaving expecting to be on the road for months and years, coming back much sooner is a chuck-norris-roundhouse-kick in the gut that leaves you with many questions. But, we can now say what happened, happened, and there’s no point dwelling. It wasn’t a failure, merely a learning experience and it was still an adventure. We know what to do differently next time, and it’s better to have tried and failed then never to have tried at all. The answer to all the questions is to travel lighter and go further. You know what this means….. NEW BIKES :).
Shortly after coming back we had a go at a Valleycat and quickly discovered that cycle touring had given us lots of power, but the cardio was lacking. We set off at 5am and spent the entire day cycling around the welsh valleys. The punishment from each climb was rewarded with views I did not think were possible in the UK. Showing that you do not have to travel hundreds of miles to have your breath taken away – both figuratively and literally.
For those unfamiliar with the Valleycat format it goes as follows. 7pm Friday the controls are released, you throw together a route and then head out for some adventure, then repeat Saturday night into Sunday. The lack of time you have to prepare a route is brilliant although, as we found, it can get a bit too “Type 2” fun and you may find yourself on an Orange grade mountain bike track. Our bikes took an absolute hammering, our legs ached, but we will definitely be signing up for the next one.
The controls are carefully thought out, showing the best of wales. Everyone involved is friendly, then at the end of the day you can sit around the camp fire after some well earned sausage and mash sharing tales of your ride.
Now you may be wondering why I’m mentioning the Valleycat. This isn’t a shameless plug, this trip influenced the way we see our cycling going and in turn the bikes we intend to get. It never fails to amaze me how the simple act of getting outside, somewhere remote, allows your brain to sort all of life’s problems. Cycle touring was great, but we’re still at a stage where we want to climb mountains rather than go through them. We still have the naive impatience that makes us want to cover ground faster and go further, we just need to embrace that.
So onto the new bike options, we are looking for endurance bikes which can handle going off the beaten track. This means steel or titanium preferably, disc brakes, and if possible rack mounts.
A smidge over £2000 we have the Wilier Jaroon. Ellie loves Wilier bikes, I have always been slightly less keen due to them caking the bike in branding. I never imagined owning one, that was until I saw this bike at the Cycle Show. A clean looking steel frame, subtle branding, carbon forks, and SRAM Rival groupset make this a solid adventure bike. It even has the rack mount points should you need to load it up for longer trips.
Kinesis Granfondo Ti Disc
£2000, for just a frameset, is a lot of money. But, Kinesis have a reputation that can demand the price tag. I would purchase this convincing myself that I would transfer components from my current bike onto this frame. I would also be lying to myself. How could you put old components on such a beautiful frameset? This would become a project to build up a dream machine and my bank balance would soon hate me for it.
Planet-X Tempest Ti
A titanium bike, with disc brakes, mount point, and Shimano Ultegra or SRAM Force 22 groupset. If you described a bike like that to me I would think you’ve spent £3.5k+. Planet-X are offering this for £2000, which I can’t work out whether it excites me or makes me suspicious. At this price though, it’s definitely worth a trip to their shop to find out more.
Like many people, we may not have all the answers as far as what we want to do is concerned. We just know that it involves cycling, travel, and simply put… adventure. It is foolish to think that one path you have chosen is the path you must stay on, life is about experience and there’s plenty of it out there.