Monday, April 24

I like my Koga again. And meet Bob....

 It's been a long time since I posted. I have continued to cycle but not very far, and mainly just to go shopping. Sometimes events happen in life that cause you to take a break from things, even things that you love doing, and to think about why you do them, and indeed should you do them. Undoubtedly events of the past 3 years or so have caused me to do just that - to take that break, both from longer cycling trips and from blogging, even though I didn't really do it intentionally. However, I feel as if now it's time to get back to more cycling, and back to blogging. Part of my original intention when I started the blog was to help other people, because I had found other people's blogs very helpful (and I still do), and I do feel that in my own small way I have something to offer, so here I am again!

In my last post I wrote that I was going to sell my Koga. Well, I didn't get any interest, so knowing I was going to be keeping it after all I decided to spend a bit of money on it (again!) and try and sort out the problem with the saddle not being in quite the right position, by buying a more laid back seat post. Previously I had found that my choices were limited because of the size of the seat tube, but then I realized that if I used a shim I would have more choice. So that's what I did.

This is the seat post I bought. It is probably only a fraction more laid back than my previous one but it's enough to make a difference. As a result the bike is much more comfortable, and is now my favourite bike to ride, and because the saddle is so comfortable I have just bought another to replace the one on my Trek. It's wider than the Bontrager one that's on there which has served me well for many years. Perhaps one's rear end has widened with age.... It didn't take too long to wear in the first Brooks - about 100 miles - so here goes with the second....

With Carradice panniers

I also bought these Carradice panniers to replace the expensive Ortlieb ones I'd bought. I think I made a mistake in getting the larger size - I wished I hadn't, and sold them and bought these. I think they were about £55, a very good price for what you get. I realized that I really don't like not having outside pockets on my panniers, which these have. The panniers are not waterproof but that doesn't bother me, and anyway they have waterproof covers tucked inside zipped pockets. The only thing I don't like about them is the fact that when you lift up the flap to get to the inside, the flap doesn't stay up (like it does with my old Karrimor ones) because it is not flexible. I need to find some method of fixing/hooking it in place while it is up.

So, I am really enjoying riding this bike again!

And now, Koga has a baby brother, called Bob. It's a Brompton!

I have long wanted to take my bike on a train, in particular to enable me to get to our daughter's in Devon, without having to have a lift to the station at this end. I hear stories about people taking their full size bikes on trains (in this country anyway) and having problems, so have been reluctant to try.  When I was young you could just put your bike in the guard's van and that was it - easy  - and I did it on more than one occasion. I began to think about a folding bike, and about how much easier this would make travelling by train, or bus. One person who finally inspired me to get one was Wiltshire Man on YouTube. Husband and I both love his videos, and often watch them together. He's not far from us, in Swindon. I also got some opinions from our local CUK group on folding bikes. I'm not a member any more but still keep in touch with them on Facebook.

So a few weeks ago we went to Warland's Cycles in Oxford, I tried one out, and the next day picked up a C-Line Explore. I'd expected to have to wait for one, but they had several in stock. I'd highly recommend this shop. It's really old fashioned but up-to-date at the same time. I also bought a Brompton Borough bag to go on the front, and got them to change the chain ring to a smaller one, to make climbing hills easier. There are 6 gears, a combination of hub and derailleur. The stem bag which you can see in the photo I made from a chalk bag; it does the job of holding a water bottle beautifully. The rack bag was donated to me by our Eldest, and has small zip-up drop down panniers, which I'm delighted to say work with this bike. 

We are slightly nearer to Didcot station than Swindon, depending on the route, so I had a few short local runs to get used to the bike and then decided to to do a test run of a ride to Didcot. I used part of the Science Vale Cycling Network to get there, and also some of NCN Route 544 to go a bit further afield. This was a fairly flat and easy to follow route, plus Husband works in Didcot so I could come home with him. I have to say I am absolutely delighted with the bike! One or two bits of the route have quite a rough surface with loose stones, and another would have been very muddy if we hadn't had a couple of days of dry weather. I think that the surface could be much better in these places, and it's a shame that having spent what must have been a lot of taxpayers' money on this route that it has these bad spots. 

On the whole I was amazed at how comfortable the bike was. Even the saddle is remarkably comfortable! Although I've ridden to Didcot in the past, doing it on this quite different bike gave me a real sense of achievement and when I got to the station, I thought - "Wow! I've done it! What possibilities lie ahead...!" And by the way, the bike is very easy to fold and unfold.