So today we wheeled out the climbing bikes which despite being labelled as climbing bikes, are just good do it all bikes sans deep section wheels and heavy gears, more spritely in the way they ride shod with compact chainsets and broad gears. Aside from Steve who decided to tackle the 3.2 miles of Haytor with a 12-25. Loco loco. Dartmoor is a vast expanse of nothingness. Barren in its landscape, I find it foreboding and intimidating at times, such is its ley. Straight out of a Dickensian novel or even a Charlotte Bronte muse of whom I quote, somewhat aptly for riding a bike on Dartmoor - "It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it..."
I was on my 'new' 'used' Emonda which is shaping up to be a beautiful bike and an excellent cost effective build as a climbing bike. It has all the hallmarks of TREK quality control though made by Giant (note from editor; no it is made in the USA by TREK as 'level 6 carbon'. Steve was on his Pinarello Dogma F8, a super bike if ever there was one, and super in design and use, not just super in the adverb / superlative used to describe it. "That really is a super bike Mr. !" Catch my drift ? "Thanks son, It is a Dogma, go tell your friends". The differences for both of us going up were palpable from aero-bikes which whilst fast, in my opinion just do not climb like round tubes on bikes.
On a personal note, I managed to shave nearly 8 minutes off my Haytor PB which is great news which ever way you look at it. It is a tough climb which you can almost split into three points. To my mind it is inherently harder than my old friend Cheddar - slightly longer steeper as a whole thing though nothing quite as sharp as steep corner at Cheddar. I cite Cheddar as a well worn path and one of the local cycling 'mecca' sites that attract infamy and sometimes misinformation. One mans easy is another mans hard. One thing to note is Haytor fools the rider umpteen times thinking you have nailed it, only to corner and find more 'fake' flat snaking away, pointing up. The climb only really stops when you get to the highest point past the monolithic stones and start thinking about the way down. Steve rode ahead of me by design as he is a lighter rider shaping up for a great 2017 on the bike. To get up Haytor 12-25 is some achievement for a recreational rider shackled by the reality of life. Out on the bike, home, then the school run, then fish fingers and mash etc etc. No massage, no soigneurs to massage us once off the bike, just us, just life. Wash the bike when you get two minutes. Probably the best way though. As Bradley says on his new Skoda advert his greatest achievements happened off the bike along with the cool millions Skoda are no doubt lining his pockets with.
The trouble with riding with someone sat astride an F8 is a bit like going out in a quality motor yourself and your mate/co-rider is in an F1 car. The F8 simply wants to go and in Steve words, it is dirty fast. To me it/they looked like a rabid dog attacking at each chance, whether up, down or across. I would snag my water bottle for a sip, look down and boom he was gone. Fair play Steve it really is some bike. This of course is no disservice to the Emonda, again a wonderful bike, but within the pantheon of super bikes, one or two spring to mind - and the current Dogma stable in it various guises has to be included in this list. Pinarello has shaved the meat from the bone since the Dogma was reborn as a carbon frame in 2010 at the behest of Team SKY and made a super light, super stiff, super fast bike that looks stunning from every angle. So many great details in the frame.
Figures from today blotted by my lack of power meter. My HR monitor has died to so today was a novel ride in the art of just riding. Never one to stare at the stem like Chris Froome, I do enjoy the analytical side of power. It has given me a better understanding of the sport. Riding without it a mindset shift change, but I suppose it can be like spending time without pants on. Dependant on the wind direction it can be quite nice ! However, for spot the ball fans it pans out as 32.2 miles, 2,339 feet of climbing, average speed 13.7 mph and fastest mph going down 37.4. The descent into Ashburton is rapid and caution has to be taken. I've really started enjoying my riding again and I am getting to grips with Devon riding. It has taken me two years, and been here 4 years this year. It is bloody testing, tough, sheer and unrelenting, but I am stronger now than ever, I just carry a bit more timber and am slightly less fit though my legs are feeling bigger, stronger and as wide as ever. 2017 is all about 2018 anyway !!! Another great 2 hrs 21 on the bike with Steve. What a positively decent riding buddy / friend / cycling nut /co-rider he has become. Images below.