Monday, 10 May 2010

Cooking on gas

California tumbles into the sea
That'll be the day I go back to Cannondale.

Huge apologies to messers Becker and Fagen for that one, but it's what I've been singing in my own head ever since I'd heard of the bike brand. And now it looks like that poor, unsuspecting western US state has done just that, as I am now the proud owner of a Cannondale SuperSix, decked out in the eye-catching/garish/delete as applicable colours of Italy's Liquigas team.

The drivetrain elements aren't much to write about - Shimano's mid-range 105 groupset and Mavic's lower end Aksium Race wheels are reliable rather than top performers - but the frameset is sublime. Hi-modulus carbon fibre frame, carbon forks and steerer and oversized BB30 bottom bracket (fnarr) all add up to a terrific ride. Massive thank you to my parents for stumping up the cash for this fantastic bike, which I'm very much looking forward to putting through its paces in Wales this coming weekend.

In preparation for that training camp, I put in a solid 85 miles on Sunday in the North Downs. Another inclement day saw me tackling some hefty climbs, including the brutal Yorks Hill, scene of England's oldest hill climb. Coming after 35 miles, it's a mere slip of a bump at only 707 yards, but most of those are skywards, with it clocking up an average gradient of 16% and two morale-battering 25% sections. The first of which had me out of the saddle and breathing like a wheezing bronchial whale. The second saw me crawling along at a blistering 4.3 mph, the bike inching along in two-second shifts as each pedal stroke transferred the awesome power of two already weary legs to the rear, traction-losing wheel. A group of three riders taking a water break at the top said they'd heard me from around 100 yards away after I'd asked the bravado-laden question: "Bit of a tester that, isn't it?" I'm surprised I could muster anything comprehensible.

The rest of the climbs were piddling in comparison. Titsey Hill was dispatched with relative ease and Westerham Hill barely registered - I could have sworn it was longer than it turned out to be. Yet again, Biggin Hill proved difficult to descend due to the wind, so I turned round at the bottom and decided to be blown back up it to put in some extra miles.

Only issue is my knee. It hurt like mad after 10 miles and nagged on for the rest of the ride. It's still tender today, so I'm resting up until it clears. As it's hardly reared its head at all during my nearly five months of training, I'm hoping it won't become a serious impediment, but it'll need checking out, so a visit to the doctor is in order. Need to get my medical form signed anyway, so I'll get it looked at then.

Next up, Wales, the Black Mountain and a circuit of the Brecon Beacons.


  1. Wowser. Sounds like a great set of outdoor rides you've done and got planned there. Incidentally I've had nothing but good experience with the entry level Aksium wheels (they came with my 2009 kona). Don't expect them to survive a collision with a cab but apart from that they're perfectly good. It's a bit of a jump up to a better model, so it depends how deep your pockets are after the bike purchase! Go Ben :)

  2. Congratulations on the new bike. I hear only good things about this Cannondale,good luck with it, enjoy and happy riding.

    (The 105s are just fine, there's only a few grams difference between them and the more expensive options)