I have to say that when I picked up the Ridgeback Panorama and rode it back home from AW Cycles in Caversham last Tuesday, I was a bit disappointed, even a little bit worried. It was very unsteady, I wasn’t used to the new riding position and the handlebars were verging on the uncomfortable. Had I just invested over £1,000 in a bike that I would loathe?
Since Tuesday, the bike has sat here in my study as if it were a work of art in a gallery. Very pretty. But it isn’t a work of art, it’s a bike and it needed to be ridden. As you can see from the previous post, that is just what I have been doing. I headed down to the Thames Valley Business Park where they have long empty roads and very little traffic. It’s the home of Reading’s learner drivers but fortunately they were still in bed and apart from a few members of the upper middle classes on their way to David Lloyd Leisure (who else can afford their subscriptions?) and a security guard positioned outside Microsoft in a gleaming silver Land Rover (were they expecting a visit from Bill Gates?), the place was empty.
I cycled up and down the long road that leads from Wokingham Canoe Club to the gates of Microsoft. First of all I didn’t dare change gear but by the time I had smiled at the security guard for the third or fourth time (he was now whispering something into his radio) I was moving up and down my gears like a concert pianist warming up his fingers. Very smooth…. I was also adjusting to the riding position. I counted about six different positions that I could use to hold the handlebars (there are probably more) and managed to convince myself that the bars were not actually positioned too far away from my body! As for balance, I put down my initial misgivings on Tuesday on collecting the bike down to nerves as I was very quickly at ease with my ability to not wobble about too much. As I was not wearing cycling shoes, I thought that my trainers would slip around on the non-cleated side of the pedal. Not a problem! The grip was good and when I stopped and started, the cleated side of the pedal tended to fall away to the bottom leaving the uncleated side upwards (although this may be an issue when I do buy some proper cycling shoes!).
Feeling much happier with my purchase, I went off road, but this is the Thames Valley so off road simply meant cycling back home via the tow path of the river (I was able to pick up a bit of street-cred mud en route), pausing a couple of times to take some photos.
So, first real impressions are very good. It rides well, I’m adjusting to the dimensions of the bike and it looks good! Next week the Easter holidays start and I may cycle down to Bath one day via the Kennet and Avon Canal (which handily is the canal outside my front window). That will be a better test of the bike over a longer run as well as me of course after a winter of just doing the daily commute!