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Photograph of Specialized Amira road bike.
My "new" Specialized Amira.

NEW CYCLING BEGINNINGS.

So I had agreed, in a moment of complete madness, to ride 100 miles for charity.  The 2.3 miles cycling to work and back each day didn’t really qualify as training. My trusty Trek, I had now discovered was the wrong frame size for me, although I loved my bike. I decided to look for a new bike, to ride the Nello (I really believed this would make it easy!). I looked at various bikes online, and really couldn’t find anything I really wanted and I didn’t want to spend more than £1000.  Now, I consider the queen of bargains and decided a decent second hand bike would be perfect. The ones I wanted new were around £3000 – £8000 which was a bit unrealistic!

I spoke to people in the Willand Cycle Club for advice on what to get.  I had a few “on watch” on Ebay but, really felt I wanted to ride the bike before parting with £1000.  A club member was upgrading her bike, and she informed me her old bike would be for sale.  She said she wanted £1000 for it.  A Specialized Amira and it had benefited from a number of upgrades. These included a Shimano 105 group set and Shimano wheels (I thought all wheels were the same – apparently not!). Once I rode the bike, it felt it was a better fit than my old Trek.  Long story short, I bought the bike for £800. The previous owner had really looked after it and there really wasn’t a scratch on it (until I owned it!). “Over the moon” was how I felt about it.

GETTING USED TO THE NEW BIKE.

My new bike was put to use cycling on the commute to and from work but, it felt like hard work. Initially, I put this down to the fact it had no “Granny ring”.  Andy and I went for a ride one lovely evening soon after. We cycled to Wellington in Somerset, over the hills, we had planned a loop of about 35 miles. About 20 miles into the ride, I was really struggling and I couldn’t understand why.

On a road I didn’t know, coming down a hill with a sharp bend at the bottom, I came off – quite spectacularly!! My knees were full of gravel, as were my elbows. Washing my wounds using my water bottle, I announced that I f&*^ing hated the bike and I wanted my old one back!  Andy was really angry with me, he said it was my fault I had come off, nothing to do with the bike and started banging on that I would never be able to complete The Nello. I rode off in a different direction.

At this point, I must explain, Andy and I very rarely have a cross word, we are a team. We work together in everything we do. I absolutely adore him and I’m pretty sure he feels the same about me. Andy arrived home before me, as the route I took involved some stupidly steep hill, which I got up in shear temper!  Blood was still dripping from my legs and arms and it hurt a lot!  I blamed the bike, Andy kept on that it was a really good bike, and didn’t understand why I hated it so much.



FRUSTRATIONS.

A few days later, I arranged for Steve (the chap that did the talk on bike maintenance) to give it a basic service. He did a great job. He removed sand from the frame (?), making it lighter. This made the bike quite ‘flitty’.  Being under 8 stone in weight, this made the bike feel very unsafe in the wind – almost as if the bike was making the decisions when I rode it, not me.

Without warning, the bike then started to make a clunking noise every time I rode it, it sounded like there was a horse following me. And I hate horses (no handbrake, teeth and metal bits on their feet!). At this stage, I really wanted my old bike back. Nobody seemed to listen to what I was saying.  Everyone kept saying it’s a really good bike, full carbon, brilliant upgrade with the gears and wheels, well maintained and looked after blah blah blah’. For my part, I kept thinking it was because I had lost my “granny ring” – even though I rarely, if ever, went into that lower ring. I just couldn’t figure it out.  But I was beginning to hate cycling on this bike with a passion! The Nello was drawing nearer. It seemed every time I rode anywhere I fell off, causing injury after injury. There had to be an answer…….

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