Today I needed to have my car looked at. It’s an unusual car and seems to cause my local garage a few headaches so I thought my best bet was to take it to a specialist north of Preston. I could have caught a bus back to Preston then changed to another bus or train back to Chorley. That would take 2 hours easily so cycling seemed a better option. I can fit a bike in the back by just taking the front wheel off or with a bit more effort I’ve previously fitted 2 bikes. I think it took me 32 minutes to cross town and get on the motorway then a few miles on a major road to the village of Barton. I dropped the car off, attached the wheel and set off. I was, of course, recording the ride using the app. Strava which gives all kinds of information afterwards.
I’d looked at Google Earth to see if I could easily get on the Leeds-Liverpool canal to make the route a bit more relaxing but it needed too many extra miles of riding from Preston but I did spot something I didn’t know existed. It’s a “linear park” in an area which was developed in the 1980s. It follows Carr Brook, a small stream. The stream feeds into Preston’s river, the Ribble, not our river Yarrow. My weapon of choice for today was my 1996 Proflex Attack LE. Partly because I haven’t ridden it since I fitted a new front tyre to replace the original one. This bike has hardly been used in it’s near 24 year lifespan. I can tell that because the brake pads all match and the wheel rims are barely scuffed. I made my own suspension fork to replace the primitive original, which I’ve covered in a couple of previous posts last year. Apart from that the only non original parts are the saddle and stem. It’s a rather plush looking saddle which couldn’t fail to be more comfortable than the dreadful item of medieval torture fitted to my 2016 Boardman. I don’t know why I’ve tolerated it for so long though I suppose when I’m off road I do a lot more standing up and shifting around. On a road ride I was bound to sit in the same position for far longer.
Looking at the picture at the top of the 2 bikes together, the Proflex is much lower at the handlebar and saddle. With the original fork it was too nose down, bum in the air for my taste but the new fork raised the bars by more than an inch, making it far better. It’s also around 4 inches shorter in the wheelbase than the Boardman which is a sign of how bikes have changed in the 20 years which separate these 2. The suspension travel has nearly tripled and bikes are just bigger. Weights have generally increased, which seems like a retrograde step but this has been necessary to accommodate longer travel suspension and bigger wheels. The ride went well but I do feel that riding through towns and cities is a bit dangerous. Mid afternoon the traffic wasn’t particularly heavy but vehicles still whistle past your ear. There were no savage gradients but the total ascent was 698 feet in 15.65 miles. I averaged 13.2mph which isn’t bad considering that I had to stop for quite a few traffic lights. Strava says I burned 993 calories and averaged 209 watts of power. This shows the limitations of Strava’s estimates. On an off road ride I may well work a lot harder but my power figure is more likely to be around 130 watts. Also for a road ride I’m sure Strava expects that you’ll ride a road bike with thin tyres, an aerodynamic riding position and sexy, figure hugging lycra. Non of these suppositions were true of me today so I imagine I may have been producing far more than an average 209 watts. It makes me wonder just how much power I produce on a tough off road ride. I could use a power meter but it would just be one more thing to obsess about!
My bum at no point registered a complaint, thanks to the better saddle.