Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fat Tyre Flyer

Since I bought my new Bianchi road bike, my old faithful Surly Cross Check has been sitting idle in the shed. After more than 15,000km of faithful service I had no intention of selling the frame and it's too good a bike to leave idle. Gradually over the last few weeks, I'd been scrounging up the parts to turn it into something useful.

There are miles and miles of lightly-trafficked dirt roads near my place. They're a bit harsh on skinny road bike tyres but a mountain bike is overkill. So I've turned the Surly - which was designed as a cyclocross bike - into a fast tourer. I whacked on some 32mm tyres, some friction shifters and my favourite Stronglight 46-36-26 chainset and it has come up a beauty.

Truth be told, the first test ride wasn't all that auspicious. As befits a Frankenbike, the left crank arm came loose every 500m, I snapped the chain and had two snakebite flats (front and rear) because the tyres were underinflated. All in 20km. So it was back to the shed for some fine tuning.

I rolled the Cross Check out again on Saturday. Because the previous ride was such a disaster, I had pretty low expectations. The nearest shop of any description is in Huonville, which is about 18km from my place, and the best route is along the North Huon Road which follows, unsurprisingly, the north bank of the Huon River. The first 10km is unsealed.

But didn't the Cross Check love it? With a bit more air in the fat knobby tyres, she went like a rocket. Not only did I zoom into town and zoom back after lunch at the cafe, but I enjoyed it so much I did it again today. Even the 2km, 250m climb back to my place was fun. I love my Bianchi, but the Cross Check reminded me why it would be my choice if I could only have one bike. I'm tossing up our next challenge, a dirt road century ride down to Cygnet or maybe having a crack at the 50km each-way trip commute to work, which includes 1000m of climbing. It might be some last minute but much-needed training for the Alpine Classic!

152km so far this year.


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