THE TEST RIDE - OVER WENTWOOD

13/04/08

New Mavic A 319 rims laced to Shimano Tiagra Hubs, expertly built by Nick, meant that the tourer was ready for a test ride. Touring bikes do not have to be expensive, the Dawes Super Galaxy, not a particularly well equipped bike sells from £800 to £1000. I bought my Tange frame as a winter training bike from SJS cycles some years ago for £110. It's double butted chromoly tubing made it ideal for a tough on/off road weekend bike. Add a few hand me downs, like the bars stem and crank set, a few bit and bobs stolen off the best bike, like the saddle and gears and there you have it, the basis for a good all round touring bike that anyone can make up from their spare bikes and parts. A small amount of things like the racks and panniers I bought new. A stand is a good thing for any touring bike. Forget STI levers (unreliable) or bar end shifters (these stick in your legs, I know from personal experience!) down tube shifters are the most reliable on any trip. Low gears are essential; mountain bike gearing is a good idea. Panniers can be expensive, our Carradice Carradura panniers are good quality and reasonably priced. Camping equipment can be quite cheap, our Jack Wolfskin tents can be bought for around £80. The best piece of equipment on any trip is the Thermorest mattress, ah! real comfort camping! The test ride was from Maindee fire station in Newport city. Nick had just finished his night shift. We cycled the 7 miles to the lower reaches of Wentwood and then onto the forest tracks that emulated the paths of Mid-Wales. After some impressive rock breaking performance from the new wheels and Schwalbe tyres a torrential rain storm was encountered on the descent to the village of Llantrisant. It dried up here and we had a quiet ride back home via Treddunock and the Trehebert road....30 miles.

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