Last Sunday I went on my first VeloVixen Ride -- a road cycling club launched in November for ladies of all riding levels, especially those who have been "left feeling isolated, intimidated or simply bored by existing clubs".
To be honest, I don't feel at all isolated, intimated or bored with my long-standing club, The Fridays, but because we're a night-ride club, we don't do many rides through the winter as it's difficult to ask 60+ people to commit to a ride that may end up cancelled if there's any chance of ice.
Meanwhile, though, I'm keen to keep the legs going round right through the winter as much as I can, so have been looking around for rides on offer by other friendly groups. I've been a big fan and very pleased customer of online retailer VeloVixen (for women cyclists) since I met them at the London Bike Show last January, so was very interested when they announced they were organising road rides for women (via a new Facebook group) catering to differing needs if possible in terms of pace/speed and distance -- with the emphasis on enjoying the ride, making new friends, and always including a good coffee stop!
As alluded to previously, things have not been Quite Perfect with the drivetrain of my new road bike. So this past weekend, we took a closer look at the gear changing and formulated a plan of what things to try (and in what order) to try and improve it... and I learned a valuable lesson.
Sometimes the latest kit isn't always better.
Sometimes it's best to stick with what you know.
Especially when it works.
In fairness, I did set out on this Build My Dream Bike journey with the right instincts. My priority was to get absolutely the right frame and to spare no expense on the fork and headset. Everything else, I figured, could be sorted out later. And that is indeed true.
Unfortunately, after barely more than a month, I have had to admit to making a few mistakes on the drivetrain (gearing) setup. I seem to have got a little distracted and thought "yeah, whatever..." on a few things, letting my trust and confidence in people advising me (which was not misplaced, I do assure you) quell any promptings from my inner Princess (you know, the one with the Pea Problem). I simply didn't pay enough attention to join up the dots of what people were telling me with what I knew from my own experience.
Unfortunately, my experiences with the brake levers were not entirely successful. I like to ride on the hoods, which wasn't the fashion back in the days of so-called non-aero levers. They're just not comfortable on the hands or wrists over a period of time. They had to go.
Yesterday, we cycled down to St Albans to go on a group ride organised by Siobhan, our local area volunteers co-ordinator, for Sustrans volunteer Rangers in that area. Since the Alban Way is one of the main routes for which they are responsible, it was nice to use that as the core part of our ride.
The Alban Way is a shared use (walking and cycling) path that runs along the old railway line between St Albans and Hatfield. There are a number of such routes in our area.
It's always interesting to me to see old abandoned platforms in various states of disrepair.
For last Sunday afternoon, we had tickets to the SPIN x LCF Xmas Fayre in Shoreditch. Meanwhile, though, Adam has two upcoming rides that he really needed to reccie.
So we left home about 10.30 in the morning and made our way to Luton Airport Parkway rail station to pick up the start of Adam's 15th December ride. This runs down the Upper Lea Valley part of NCN6, from Luton to Harpenden, entirely off-road. The plan is to stop for coffee, or even lunch if people desire, at the Amber Inn, situated next to one of the exit points of the cycle route. Then the group will ride back to Luton.