With the cancellation of the final NPS XC I decided to ride the Penrith Merida, using it as some much needed training for the 3 Peaks. There aren't many hills in Cambridgeshire so I jumped at the chance of riding 100km around Cumbria.
With a week to go before the Merida I got my cross bike sorted and made a few 3 Peaks mods- fitting cross-top levers and a pair of Tufo T34 tubular tyres. So the Merida would be a good work out for me and a chance to make sure the crosser was running well.
Sunday morning and I headed over to Penrith for the event (not race:). Plenty people asked about the bike and what was I doing- some guessed it was 3 Peaks training. It was funny to line up alongside so many folk on 6" full suspension bikes when I had no suspension and 34mm wide tyres. All seemed good for the first 15km then things went a bit upside down- I had a major stack:( What seemed like another puddle turned out to be a big hole which spat me right over the bars and face first into the ground- nice. Thankfully all my teeth were still in place and my beak in one piece too so I pressed on. Unfortunately I seemed to rip my shorts right at the base of my back (as many people informed me) sorry to anyone who was following me and had this view.
The bike stood up to lots of abuse and was going very well- on any section other than the technical downhills the cross bike was as fast if not quicker than the mtb. There was lots of hike-a-bike which many people were moaning about but for me it was perfect training!
About 2/3 of the way into the ride I started getting a strange feeling through the rear wheel, something didn't feel quite right, but decided to press on and hope for the best. With 10km to go I heard the noise I had been dreading all day, a short pssssssssssssss as my rear tyre went flat. Bugger! This confirmed my earlier suspicion that something was wrong, the gluing of the rear tub had failed causing the tyre to turn on the rim and rip the valve out. I was annoyed as this meant my idea of using tubs for the 3 Peaks was not going to work- more experimenting with gluing methods required. If anyone has any good ideas for secure gluing of tubs I'd love to hear them.
So the final 10km of the Penrith Merida turned into a run/ walk for me. I still finished though and learnt lots in preparation for the 3 Peaks. There were a number of casualties from my ride: 1. Giro Atmos helmet. 2. Assos F1.13 bib shorts. 3. Tufo T34 tubular tyre (x2) 4. My face. Ouch an expensive ride but that's biking I guess.
Riding the Merida on a cross bike was fun and I'd recommend it as something different if you like a wee challenge. You've just got to accept you're not going to be the fastest down the hills and enjoy it.