Radbroke Wheelers

Where I’m working at the moment there’s a bunch of cyclists who train at lunch times. They’re known as the Radbroke Wheelers. and they are a mix of racers, triathletes, and blokes who just wanna keep fit. They go out twice a week, for a brisk ride, usually lasts an hour or so. I’ve ridden with them when I worked at Radbroke before, so I knew what to expect when I rode with them this week. It’s nearly always relentlessly brisk, with a burn-up down the home straight.

So, when I showed up on my MTB, I knew it was gonna hurt. Wednesday wasn’t so bad. I was fresh, and the route was fairly flat, and I got away with it. Thursday was tough, I could still feel the previous days effort in my legs, and as the pressure went on on some of the rises I was pretty much chewing on the handlebars. Determined not to crack, the burn-up down the last mile was agony. Thanks for the workout fellas, I deserved it. 🙂

First Ride – Specialized Roubaix S-Works SL 2007

A lovely sunny autumn day, it’s mid morning, and I’m supposed to be working, but can’t wait any longer. I decide to take an early lunch and go out on my bike.

Outside it’s warm enough for shorts and a short sleeved jersey. As I carry my bike down the steps to the road it occurs to me that I have dramatically increased the weight of my bike by adding a bottle cage and bottle (did I mention that she only weighs 16lbs? 😉 ).

Round the sharp left-hander and onto the short climb out of the cul-de-sac she handles beautifully, and surges forward when I press on the pedals. Out of the saddle on the hoods feels completely comfortable. Out onto the main road, and along past the school where there is a long stretch of frost damaged road, a perfect test for the Roubaix’s Zertz damping. I rattle across it at a brisk pace. I can still feel the road, the feedback is still there, but the jackhammer jolts that you would get from a normal road race bike have no sting.

Heading downhill towards Wolverley I pick up a lot of speed. OK, now I’m not so happy, I feel a little wary going this fast. It’s not the bike, it’s the traffic. I move out from the kerb a little and push on, it’s only half a mile to my turn.

Up through Wolverley village and onto the lanes. Kingsford lane runs along the bottom of Kinver edge, at around three miles long it’s a snaking roller-coaster of a lane and a good test for the Roubaix. I float along effortlessly, just the whoosh from the tyres, in the beautiful countryside, under the lovely autumn sun. I weave my way through the lanes to the Sheepwalks, probably the biggest steepest climb in the area. Pushing myself back on the saddle I take the first part of the climb seated, hands on the tops. It feels easy.

The climb eases, and the panorama opens out. I can see the Abberleys, the Malverns, and beyond. The final part of the climb is a steep ramp, and I attack it out of the saddle. Legs stinging with ‘good’ pain I reach the top and decide to stop a while and take it all in.

I’d been out for around an hour now, the bike had exceeded all of my expectations. I decided to push on a bit to see if it was real, or whether I could break the spell. By Shatterford I had worked up a good sweat, the faster I went the more I liked it. Back towards Kinver, sprinting every rise, and feeling funky. Speeding into Cookley with 1:40 done I stormed up the last climb before dashing down the A449 towards the lights at ‘Nabarro’s Folley’. No fear of the speed or the traffic now.

Almost two hours done, and I had worked hard in places. No back-ache, shoulder fine, feeling as fresh as when I started out. Spell still in tact 🙂 But, I was on my own, what I really need is someone to test it out on 😉   

Back on the road – Specialized Roubaix S-Works SL 2007

It’s been a couple of years since I rode a road bike, but my dodgy shoulder has stabilised enough to make me want to try one again. Of course it would have to be a Spesh, and over recent months I’ve been thinking about the Specialized Roubaix. When I saw a picture of the all new 2007 version, and heard tales from the trade launch about how fabulous this bike was my mind was made up. I ordered one! 🙂

Originally scheduled to arrive sometime in November, imagine how excited I was when I got an email from Gary at Pearce Cycles to tell me it had arrived. This was on thursday, the day after my 51st birthday! Ace world cup meticulous mechanic James had built her up, and next day I was there to collect her. Wow!!! Even better in the flesh, the pictures I’d seen just didn’t do justice. So light, so well put together, as much like a work of art as a bike, and so damn sexy.

I could go on and on about how the 2007 S-Works Roubaix is a totally new frame that represents the absolute leading edge of what can be achieved with carbon cycle technology. How the frame is stiffer and lighter than ever, how the S-Works carbon crankset is lighter and stiffer than Dura-Ace, how the new Mavic 10th Anniversary Ksyrium Edition Spéciale wheels were chosen as the very best blend of performance and compliance, how even the open-tubular tyres are designed to be the fastest most comfortable tyres possible. Or how Specialized’s Systems approach to Bike Design fits with their ‘inovate or die’ creed, but I won’t. Too excited see.

So excited that I ran out of fuel on my way home. Had to use my new bike to go to the garage. It wasn’t what I wanted for a first ride. I’d planned best kit, sunny day, super route. As I pedaled toward the garage in my non-cycling clothes and trainers I tried not to notice how bloody fantastic she felt.

When I got her home, I put her in the living room so that I could have a cuppa and study her. First proper ride tomorrow, if it’s sunny.