It’s also about the bike

One of the key training principles that fitness experts trot out is “Listen to your body”, so you give it adequate rest and don’t overtrain. After setting out for what could have been a 50+ mi training ride in the cold, cloudy gloom of yesterday morning, my body said it wanted to go to Stoke Row for a coffee rather than drag itself up to Bledlow Ridge and beyond. And a lovely coffee it was, enhanced by a slice of Simnel cake and a chance meeting and chat with Steve E.

It’s not just your body you need to listen to. When the chain started chattering a couple of weeks ago, I measured it and found it had stretched to the recommended limit for replacement. I had a spare in stock, so fitted that. The chattering continued, as did the unique cycling phenomenon of chain suck, where the bottom of the chain stays attached to the chain ring and attempts to make a second circuit. This is a sign that the bike wants to have a shiny new chainset and gear cassette. Checking the maintenance log, I found that the bike had done 7,400 miles since I last replaced the whole drive chain, which experts reckon should last at least 4,000 miles – so definitely overdue.

Finding a 3-ring chainset and 9-speed cassette for a 20 year old bike is not straightforward, but eventually I sourced one via the internet, even if it came with the warning “Due to new regulations imposed by the Brexit trade agreement, your package may take 3-5 working days to clear customs checks in the UK.” Customs must not have been very interested, as it turned up today.

Meanwhile I had casually mentioned to the female cyclists in the family that my rear tyre looked quite worn, so I was planning to swap it with the front, to even the wear. They were both adamant that I did not want to have a puncture a long way from home, so should replace both. SJS Cycles in Bridgwater had the legendary Schwalbe Marathons in stock, and they’ve now been sitting in our garage for a week or so.

As luck would have it, the weather forecast for tomorrow is 1C at 8 am, rising to 4C at 2pm, when there’s also a 60% chance of rain. In other words, an ideal day to give the bike some TLC. Let’s hope all the bits fit.

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