Love at first ride….

After what feels like forever my GF-Ti is finally ready to go play, and where better to play than the Yorkshire Dales. Bikes packed into the van and Ali and I set off over Cock Hill (I had enough of riding that one last week), so that we could start from Gargrave. I’d planned a loop for us taking in a few climbs on the way that would give us a half way stop at The Dales Bike Centre.

A new bike always feels a bit delicate as you first set off, getting used to new shapes of the shifters in my hands, not helped by still being in my lobsters despite the sun trying to peek through. I had been warned that the Q-rings take some very sensitive adjustment. They sure do, tiny little tweeks of the front mech to stop the chain from dropping. Ali pointed out that as the queen of faff she wasn’t surprised at my stopping to fiddle with it. That done and we were away.

The bike feels sprightly and light, taking each climb in it’s stride. Its super stable when hovering (no, not hoovering, though if anyone wants to remove any grit from the corners they can!) at a junction and bounds forward when asked. It’s been years since I’ve ridden on tubs, I’d forgotten quite how well they corner and respond. Hope have done a blinder with their RS-SP 5.0c wheels. They accelerate when asked and don’t take too much of a blast from sidewinds despite the 50mm rims. Must clean the odd dot of glue off though as they squeeked a bit down hill!

First real test of the bike’s climbing ability was Park Rash out the back of Kettlewell, it scores 9/10 in the “100 Greatest Climbs” book. I must say, even with my love of steep hills, I was a wee bit worried, last time I came up was on a standard chainset with 175 cranks and a 25 on the back, kindly lent to me by Planet X and it hurt! This time was very different. I’m running 34/27 with the Q-Rings. It can only be described as dancing up. Every pedal push felt positive, every twist of the wheels into the corner, clean. That said I was still coughing like a good-un with the end of a last weeks cold! The whooshing down into Coverdale is like a rollercoaster, I scared myself into a huge grin at the speed one could pick up on the way down, it flew into corners and whooshed back out. The skies cleared to blue and the smiles shining like the sun.

Managing not to get shot as we rode through the firing range we pulled into The Dales Bike Centre. A warm welcome greeted us as we came inside to grab a bite. Its the first time I’ve been, despite having chatted to them via Twitter. What can I say, its lovely, great coffee, great food, great location. There’s a bike shop too incase you’ve run out of snacks for the way home too! We’ll be back again, although I’m not sure Ali enjoyed the climb back out as we started on our return trip.

The moors are just beautiful at this time of year, whisps of smoke as the heather is burnt off for new growth, still contrasting sunlight illuminating the valleys….and the best bit, hardly any cars! I was really starting to enjoy riding the GF-Ti, like we’d made friends. The FSA-SLK compact drop bars from Windwave were a bit of an indulgence, I’d made a brief attempt at justifying them with the hope that there would be less vibration through my hands. I worry that as the years pass my hands go numb too easily, but wow! They’re so comfy, your hands just plop gently into the drops, no struggling girly fingers trying to reach the brakes, they just fit and that makes me happy! Same for the saddle. I was a little upset that I couldn’t have a plain white one but at least it doesn’t have pink bits on it! It might not have been my most sensible idea to take a new saddle out for a long day but it was fine. I’ve ridden the Fizik vitesse from years but this was a first try of the Arione Donna (with a groove). It was ace, and the best bit is it looks like a saddle not a sofa like many women’s saddles!

The route I had planned was hilly and Ali was starting to pull faces at me. She may have had a point, it was getting later and we had no lights. A head wind had been battering us for some time and Ali was flagging. Popping white rain capes on we snuck down the last of the country lanes like a pair of mad scientists, hoping that nobody would squash us! At last van in sight we tumbled into it, stopping for nowt but a pizza for tea.

I hope everyone wakes with the enthusiasm I did yesterday at least once. Bring on more days like that!



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