Sunday, 22 August 2010

• Waterbeach - Madingley Route (34 miles)

"Today's route was a slight variation on our ride of three weeks ago. Again we headed north to Waterbeach and then struck out west. Just before Cottenham, we departed from our previous route and rode 3 miles north on "Long Drove" before turning south for a straight run through as far as Dry Drayton. At this point we cut through to Coton via Madingley before returning home via Grantchester and Newnham to complete our 34 mile circuit." - Steve

It all sounds so straightforward when put that way, doesn't it? This was no ordinary ride, though; I was testing my new handlebars!

Lately I've been suffering from a malady common to cyclists - I lean too heavily on my handlebars (probably because I need to strengthen my 'core' muscles...). With too much of my weight on my hands, my ulnar nerves are pinched and pressed on to the point that my hands first begin to tingle and then go "uncomfortably numb". All of this is very unpleasant (and, indeed, dangerous!) and, so far, shows no sign of letting up. I resolved to do something about it:

For a while now, I've noted that long-distance cyclists (I mean REALLY LONG distance cyclists; eg. people who set out one day and wind up back where they started - several years later, having circumnavigated the globe) have lately been seen using 'Butterfly' or 'trekking' handlebars. So, after much (much!) deliberation, I decided to swap my drops for one of these.

When I say "much deliberation" I mean that I thought about the change-over for at least a year and then made an appointment with my ever-faithful (and ever-patient!) cycle shop here in Cambridge, Howes Cycles, and then at the last moment I CANCELLED on them.  I just wasn't sure this radical move would do the trick.  Weeks later, however, I decided that I'd never know if I didn't take the plunge.  And so I did.

Weird.  The whole experience was slightly weird; I took my bike into the shop one morning and picked it up in the afternoon (NOT weird).  To my surprise, I was reminded of a time when I took my beloved Yorkshire Terrier, Charley (now deceased) for his first grooming.  I chatted with the groomer and then left Charley in her capable hands.  When I returned to the shop some hours later, I was greeted by an animal that recognised me but who looked nothing like my dog Charley!  He was shampooed and dried and clipped... he even sported a little blue ribbon, tied around a tuft of fur gathered between his (well-groomed!) ears! (Yep, weird)

Although my beloved Dawes Galaxy (c. 1997) didn't have a little blue ribbon like Charly did, this struck me as being nearly as radical a change in appearance as Charly's transformation was.  Moreover, the brakes and gear levers were in entirely different places to their former positons, which complicated matters. My well-honed reflexes for shifting and, importantly, BRAKING, needed to be re-trained... or else!

So we went for a short ride yesterday to get me used to the different positions and make adjustments to the handlebars and saddle.  Today we planned a longer jaunt...

... TBC ...

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