The Tour of Reading: Reflections

Back home now, sinking my first beer of 2010 – 4% Stella Artois so I can still feel a bit virtuous (although by the time the bottle of Shiraz I bought to accompany my evening meal is demolished later, my argument may fall down a bit) – and reading the posts sent en route around Reading. I do wonder how any of the bike shops other than AW Cycles make any money at all; their stock is paltry and the technical expertise of their staff pretty rudimentary compared to the kings of Caversham. Why do I even bother gracing them with my interest when I know where I will end up as soon as I step outside of my front door?

My posts are a bit contradictory to say the least. I finish by saying in the previous one that the Ridgeback Panorma is the one for me after having roundly dismissed it as a contender after having seen its inferior brother in Cyclezone. It was down to the competent arguments of Gavin Mitchell in AW Cycles I suppose who knew what he was talking about and, metaphorically shaking the sense into me (very indirectly and very politely), was able to make me see the light.

The Bianchi is out because of the issues with panniers; it isn’t possible to fit them. A bit disappointing as the one I had my eye on was truely a machine of beauty and stealth. Oh well… There was a Giant in the running for a short while although I was never keen as Giants are what all the kids at school ride; there is too much of an association with mountain biking in my mind. So to the Ridgeback. You can read the technical specs of the bike by clicking here. Much of the detail of the spec remains clouded is mystery to me despite my years of cycling. I would give a prize to anyone who can actually explain, in plain English what “Alex DH-19 36h w/CNC sidewall” rims are and what makes them special. But it sounds good doesn’t it? Would you be able to guess which part of the bike is being described here: “Triple butted Cro Moly”? And would you care if they weren’t tripe butted? It’s the forks by the way.

But it was a sturdy beast, equipped ready for the road with front and back pannier racks and drop handlebars for a range of hand positions. The gear changes are snazzy – a flick of the break levers – and it is made from good old steel. Now you may think that aluminium is the thing to have or indeed carbon fibre, but apparently these are very difficult to repair (especially in the back streets of Cambodia as Gavin usefully pointed out). And apparently frames do break although I have yet to see one that has. You can Google a picture of one in such a state if you wish.

There is some comical feedback on the bike on the Ridgeback website. Here is a taster: “I bought my Panorama in February and have just come back from a tour in Croata. Due to a recurring neck problem I especially like the additional brake levers (plus the adjustable stem) which povide greater stability and allow a more upright position. It is the little things that make all the difference.” So it is a good choice if you are arthritic and can’t spell. “Why did it take you so long to create a sensible steel touring bike? …. Reynolds tubing, top of the range Shimano and with the kind of ride that us long distance expedition types really enjoy. Congratulations Ridgeback”. There speaks a man who is in with a chance of winning my prize about the rim specification. I wonder if I can find a more balanced view of the bike’s qualities….. well, after a few minutes search, not really. I have found a CTC forum with a few pedants arguing over the relative merits of the Panorma or the Dawes Galaxy but they are clearly people who need to get out more.

So I think my mind is made up, until I change it of course!

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What do you think?