Friday Night Ride to the Coast

Last night, me and my mate Gilly took part in a London to Brighton ride for the Martlets Hospice in Hove. The event is organised by FNRTTC ( Friday Night Ride to the Coast). More info on FNRTTC and their upcoming events can be found here:

http://fnrttc.blogspot.com/

I rode my Specialized Tricross which has strange features like drop handlebars, yellow bar tape, mudguards and 23mm tyres. It could be classified as a road bike.

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Review: Fizik Gobi Xm Wingflex

Fizik Gobi Xm

Fizik Gobi Xm Wingflex

To change or not to change: that is the question. Whether t’is easier on the behind to suffer the dings and harrows of outrageous log and dune or to catch limbs amongst a sea of timber and by avoiding, miss them ? Choosing a saddle is difficult.

Some are loyal to the one seat moving it from from post to post, others may discount it as completely unimportant but a good saddle makes a difference.

Some Spesh ones I find look good but are less comfortable on a long ride but WTB may look less sleek but last a full day. On primarily longer rides the old Koobi PRS with a split nose was great especially on hard summer tracks and coped with the Surrey Hills.

Playing technical, a change to a short saddle made moving on and off easier and encouraged more body english generally. A longer ride on a bridleway felt harder but orange detailing justifies any choice!

Gobi seems to be the consistent comparison review winner but a custom orange microtex costs €130…..so standard black had to replace the worn through one, orange details and all. A researched choice for me but still a buy and try.

Fizik Gobi Xm

Ronnie’s Shooting Stick

It feels a little concave like a shooting stick but sliding off front and rear seems easy but you need to be deliberate. The centralised position improves power transfer as you can level your hips and drive to a full leg extension. Even if you are trying to emphasise circles a full leg position is more efficient. Less experienced riders tend to notice this more on a longer ride and several new faces have gained an instant gear by raising the seatpost.

A Joplin allows me to rise and fall but the Gobi still feels stronger in a heavier gear. It does not give a free gear out but it helps on a long climb. A fast cadence and the benefit disappears.

Overall the weight is great, it fits neat to the seatpost clamps as it is easy fit and easy removal, the slip versus grip seems good and it cleans easily. It does not shed water like its vinylette cousins but it does not get soggy either. Mud still sticks underneath despite a mudguard but rinses off.

Early days yet but seemingly the reviews were accurate.

Waterproof bag

Aquapac

Ronnie in non-orange bag shocker

If your bike lives in the garage all winter then summer gear will probably suffice for spring and autumn too. If you venture further out into the cold and the rain then a waterproof shell, long trousers and a base layer may need to be added to your wardrobe. Eventually when you have added lights, hats, full finger gloves, winter jerseys, mudguards, winter tyres and supermarket bags to waterproof your feet you might think the list was complete however even your favourite backpack may need a little help.

A rain guard which can be either water resistant or waterproof is hung over the whole backpack but it needs removing for access and occasionally falls down to be trapped between your rear mudguard and the rear wheel where it rapidly fills with mud. An alternative is to use an internal dry bag but exterior pockets and the sack itself get soaked. The solution is a backpack where the material is waterproof and the zips are water resistant as a minimum specification.

A trawl through the internet found a number of bags available. Gourdon, Overboard, Exped, Kappa, Caribee, Ortlieb, Boblbee, Aquapac and Dakine all made my list but they all had different advantages and, of course, the ideal was a mix of the better elements of all the bags.

The Exped was simple, less expensive and a good colour, may be suitable for many riders but the Overboard floats, and could be used in the summer on the water. A pre-Christmas discount had finished so it seemed poorer value for money. Ortlieb was more expensive but it had looked bulkier and more rigid but a good colour again.

Eventually I settled on the Aquapac, which is one of the more expensive backpacks, but it had exterior mesh pockets for tubes, latex gloves and drinks, and divided insides for separation of layers from food, tools and camera. A transparent pocket for money, house keys and phone seemed very useful and a hook for a car key to avoid fumbling in the dark another good idea. An unusual feature is that the internal pocket is yellow with a white interior to improve visibility when scrambling for items in a darkened wood. There are hooks for attaching things like rear lights and an exterior pocket that you can squeeze in a half full bladder if you remove the support pad/seat.

After a few rides it has proven waterproof, comfortable on short fast and long slow rides, access is easy enough through the roll top closure and the side mesh pockets are secure. The poorer elements are the waist belt missing a central buckle, now added, and the mesh pockets being so deep that you need to take the pack off to pull out a bottle of drink, hence the need for changing the waist belt.

So if you need a bag tested under a waterfall on Youtube to ensure it meets the rigours of Stanmer then buy one quick before the trails turn dusty.