|A very rare A J Rickett PBP Special from Houston, Renfrewshire|
This is not about the right stuff to go to work on, or to go for the shopping on. Or to go racing on, or to go downhilling on, or to go posing on. Or to go round the world on, or even to go for a fortnight's holiday on.
This is about the Right Stuff for me to do a long Audax ride on !
|Peter Marshall on Recumbent Photo by Maindru.|
Yes, I know that Drew Buck did Paris-Brest-Paris on a Dursley Pedersen, and in 2003 a young Finnish lad, Alpo Kuusisto, did it on a scooter, of all things ! People have done PBP on recumbents, trikes, tandem trikes, recumbent tandem trikes, just about anything you can imagine on two or three wheels propelled solely by the rider/riders.
|Pat Kenny and Pete Gifford on Tandem Trike.|
But this is the equipment that, after many years of painstaking trial and error, I use for long distance Audax rides.
The two main criteria are Comfort and Reliability.
Actually that should read " The Main criterium is Comfort and Reliability " Because one without the other is just not on, it must be both.
Then we should start taking weight into account. Never forget though that you can spend thousands on the lightest components but if you neglect your diet you're wasting time and money. When you weigh your bike make sure that its fully equipped with lights, mudguards, tools etc. Then weigh yourself and add the weight of the bike. Now you have a Total Riding Weight, and this is the weight that you should be minimising.
Don't buy Mars Bars and Coke for a fortnight. How much money will you save ? And how much weight will come off the Total Riding Weight ?
Or you can buy a custom carbon fibre frame and a set of carbon wheels and reduce the Total Riding Weight by perhaps 900gm, but at what a cost financially ?
And much more importantly by losing the weight from your body you'll be improving your Power to Weight Ratio.
How do you think guys like Drew Buck did PBP on a heavy antique steel bike ? Because they weren't carrying much excess weight on their bodies and they were bloody FIT !
So get fit !
Another drawback about trying to reduce the Total Riding Weight by using ultra lightweight componentry like carbon frames, is that in the event of a heavy, or even just an unlucky fall the bike might be rendered irrepairable at the side of the road. Think long and hard about lightweight components and their effects on reliability. Sure, Tour de France riders use state of the art stuff, but even they have to observe the UCI minimun weight for a bike. I know the UCI comes in for a lot of deserved criticism, but I must agree, in principle, with them on setting realistic minimum weights for cycles. And again Tour riders have the luxury of a back up car loaded with replacement bikes. An Audax rider won't have that ! Although I did hear of one rider, whose bike was wiped out in an accident, who was fortunately near a branch of Halfords in the UK . Using his credit card he bought a cheap and cheerful Halfords Special and successfully continued his ride.
|Columbus Framed A J Rickett.|
So, starting with the frame, my preference is steel, Reynolds, Columbus, Vitus and Dedacciai all make some of the finest lightweight steel tubing there is on the market. A properly made frame using any of these makers tubesets will give a light but strong and comfortable bicycle. And my preference is also for steel forks. I've tried many aluminium framesets and although there are weight savings to be made by the time the makers have engineered comfort into the frame the weight saving is negligible ! Some expensive aluminium frames I've ridden have been so harsh I was lucky to be able to complete a 100km Audax.
Comfort on a bicycle depends on many seemingly unrelated things, but the frame is the starting point. Get a good steel frame and you've got the start of a good Audax bike.
|Semi Deep Section Campag Rim|
|A nice Bob Jackson Legend with Proper Zefal Pump.|
Don't, whatever you do, depend on a mini inflater, no matter what part of California it was made in or what parts of a recycled Stealth aircraft were used. A proper, aluminium, full size, frame fitting pump with a fast lock-on valve connector is required, nothing less ! Not unless you want to be one of those riders waiting at the side of the road for someone with a real pump to stop and give you a loan of it ! Believe me, I speak from bitter experience !
|A Ubiquitous Rolls Sadddle.|
When exhaustion kicks in, your seating area muscles frequently collapse and that's when you feel as if you're riding a razor blade. If you look closely at some pro's saddles you'll realise that they are actually Selle San Marco Rolls saddles re-badged. I prefer a Rolls saddle because they aren't prone to being damaged by rain like Brooks. I had three Brooks saddles distort badly due to rain despite careful application of Proofide and covering them when left in the open. But then, maybe that was just Scotland ?
|Cinelli 'bars and stem.|
The last thing I'm going to cover today is Mudguards or Fenders for TransAtlantic riders. A huge long running debate went on in Audax UK about mudguards. Then mudguards were compulsory, no beating about the bush, plain and simple, compulsory ! Now they're not. I won't go into the whole debate as it became quite acrimonious as only a squabble in a British cycling club can. No wonder the world thinks the British are eccentric !
Anyway, we digress, I use mudguards because I'm a penny-pinching, idle sod ! There , you have it now !
|No, not Scotland this time, Belgium !|
Who has experienced the joy of swallowing a liberal sample of the road covering from a wet Scottish farm road that's been launched in the air in front of you by your unguarded front wheel ? Great, isn't it ?
|Start of National 400km 2000 in Scotland.|
Well, there you are, that's the very basics about the Right Stuff to ride an Audax with.
Later I might write about some of the finer details, like the choice of computer, what type of headset bearings are best, the best bottom brackets, luggage, lights....it goes on !
And that's not even mentioning Sudocrem , or Bag Balm, or bags of white powder that cyclists have in public toilets in the early hours of the morning, which prompted the local Hawick drunk to mutter "F***in' cyclists, I might huv known !"