A Winters Tale

Back in the Autumn I had decided that I needed a winter bike so I placed an online order for a Canyon with disc brakes, the order was later cancelled when the bike delivery date came and went and Canyon could not confirm when I might expect to receive it.

The reason for an extra bike was to save my Van Nicholas from winter punishment but after the Canyon let down I bought a set of mudguards for the Van Nicholas and thought I would chance it on the winter roads, big mistake.

I have always looked after my bikes and religiously clean them after every ride and although winter temperatures were mild they also featured wet roads on nearly every ride and that equated to plenty of mud, slurry and Hampshire “diamonds” ( very small sharp pieces of flint ) I got to hate that sound of wet grit and slurry between brake blocks and wheel rims and even briefly considered buying a turbo trainer in an effort save my bikes from the further pain of wet Hampshire lanes. This anxiety culminated in a loud bang one January morning as a rear Ultegra rim split on a descent destroying wheel, tyre and tube. I fortunately had a spare wheel in the garage but decided I would build a new set using Miche hubs, DT Swiss spokes and H Plus Son rims.. At this point I was replacing brake blocks every three weeks, a new chain, new bottom bracket and rear gear cable, the list was growing along with my despair.

With new wheels finished it was time to swap the Ultegra wheels but I could not bear to do it, I kept hearing that sound of wheel rims grating on wet grit and finding reasons to delay the changeover, it was only a set of wheels not the crown jewels.

My irrational behaviour struck a chord when I read an article in Cycling Weekly, a letter to Dr Hutch about a guy that had entered three cyclocross events but did not compete in any of them because on the day he did not want to get his new cyclocross bike dirty.

With this tale still fresh in my mind the decision was made, I could not subject my new wheels to such torture so after a day of trawling the internet I ordered a very basic Genesis Equilibrium with disc brakes for immediate delivery, this would allow me to undertake a complete refit of my Van Nicholas for my Summer tour, save it now from further punishment and take on whatever the weather threw at me with impunity.

IMG_2335The new bike arrived in a couple of days from Tweekes Cycles and after fitting a set of mudguards it entered  service. Overall a nice low-cost steel bike with disc brakes, I have changed the saddle and it looks like the cheap headset will need replacing sooner than later, my only real gripe was that the bike was supplied with Continental Grandsport Race tyres which have no puncture protection at all so with four punctures in five rides these have been replaced with Schwalbe Durano Plus tyres which are more suited to the flint ridden lanes of Hampshire.

I am now back to enjoying my cycling without fretting about what damage the bad weather is inflicting on my Van Nicholas, I still clean the Genesis after every ride but that is now just good housekeeping and not a nervous obsession and I am beginning to see the benefit of disc brakes for Winter riding. Looks like my next project will be an extension on the garage to house the ever-growing collection of bikes.

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