Look out there’s a Snail on the Road

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Most of my posts about ProjectSnail this year have been about looking to improve my skills, confidence and fitness offroad riding but most of the riding I do actually takes place on the road during my daily commute.  I have not had a suitable bike for this really as I simply spend a lot of time swapping my tyres over on my battered old hardtail and had been thinking of trying to get myself a more suitable ride.  A few months ago I was heading down to London and was due to stay with a bike mad Texan who said “dude man bring your pedals and shoes and we’ll go out for a ride”, nice invite but I was thinking mmm London not sure that’s great for riding.

We fixed my MTB pedals onto one of his beautiful bespoke hand made steel bikes that was all decked out in Campy and off we went, me thinking god I hope I don’t crash this.  Having not ridden a drop bar road bike for a long long time there was plenty to get used to as I looked down at the worryingly thin tyres, not least the fact that he had the brakes rigged up the ‘wrong way round’ Yikes.  I attempted to follow him as he zipped along though the London traffic but there was no way I was going to match him so just held the pace I was comfortable with while trying to get used to the bike, the shifting and the brakes.  I got to Finsbury Park in one piece and we caught a train north and 30 mins later we were sweeping along empty country roads beaming at the joy of it all.  It was amazing to see how many unspoilt roads and villages were within such a short hop from London.  The route was perfect for me, flatish, quiet and I settled into a nice easy cadence but we were eating up the miles gliding through a part of England that looked like it had come from a picture book – thatched pubs looking out over village greens, duck ponds and cricket pitches and it was clearly a popular route as there were plenty of other riders out.  I was really pleased that I’d managed to ride for 50 miles without too much difficulty as I’m not really used riding distances these days and it really got me thinking about getting a road bike of my own.

This ride coincided with my work’s bike to work scheme opening so I thought I’d investigate my options, could I get a bike that would be suitable for all year riding on my commute (and make it a more pleasurable experience) but that I could also use for exploring the Yorkshire countryside.  Choosing a bike is a tricky business though as there is such a staggering variety to choose from but I got pretty excited when I realised I might be able to to get a Kinesis through the scheme, their T2 model looked to fit the bill perfectly and just squeaked in under the bike to work threshold.

I didn’t really know much about Kinesis until a couple of years ago but they slowly started to creep into my consciousness and I started being more aware of them, they were well represented at a few cross meetings I went to watch and anyone who I spoke to who rode them raved about them. A cross bike (Pro 6) is what I’d love to own so I could dip my toe in some events but that will have to wait for a while. As I was thinking about whether the T2 would be right for me a couple of local riders both offered the chance for me to ride their Kinesis to see what I thought, which was an amazingly kind gesture.

I spent a week whizzing sound on @waterrat77’s bike. Now there is nothing in common between me, a slow stumpy Welshman and Emma a proper athlete apart from we’re about the same height, but after I’d lowered the saddle a bit I had huge fun riding to and from work and even found myself putting in 30 miles after work one evening. The week spent riding Emma’s Kinesis convinced me it was the bike for me, thanks Emma.

Garage Bikes built up the bike for me beautifully (see photo above) and I’m now getting used to riding my own T2. I’m no bike journalist but it’s a fantastically smooth and comfortable bike to ride, even on our shocking excuses for roads. I’m quickly getting used to how much faster I’m travelling without apparently having to do too much. Brakes of course are very different from hydraulic discs but I’m not finding it as scary an adjustment as I thought I might. I was a bit worried how I’d cope with the gearing as I live up a hill but so far so good. Going down the hill is total blast and even the Snail gets up a bit of pace with the bike feeling incredibly secure and confidence inspiring.

What I love most though is the way I just appear to glide along floating over the tarmac my mind settling into a calm meditative state and I’m transported immediately back through the years to my much younger self swooping around the roads of South Wales on my first road bike. I’m not in anyway giving up my love of offroad riding but if anyone would like to leave me some links below to good Yorkshire road routes the Snail can try or join me on a ride out that would be great. Hopefully riding some more on the road might help my offroad riding and Projectsnail, who knows?

There is a very pleasing side product in buying this bike and that is that I’ve bought time. I’m not, nor never will be, a Strava dude I just enjoy the ride but my commute is now saving me 15 mins a day which equates to around a week and half across the year, so I’ve actually bought a time machine !

Dream, Build, Ride is the Kinesis motto, I’ve done just that and am loving it.

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