As I’ve said in previous blogs, I’m a mountain biker first and foremost. There’s nothing better for me than getting out on my local trails in the hills, testing myself and my beloved Marin on the twisty, difficult bits or trying to beat that uphill in Clent that still has me bested.
But my goal of losing weight has seen me commuting on my Ridgeback more than riding off road. The Ridgeback has seen sterling service over the years: Snowdonia, The Peak District, Cannock Chase, Forest of Dean, even evening blasts around Sutton Park back in the day.
Then as work reared its ugly head, it was ‘roadified’ into a very able commuter. First I used it to go from Small Heath to Longbridge (a 28-mile round trip); then when we moved house and jobs and I was cycling from Rubery to Solihull (a 26-mile round trip) and now, in my present job, it carries me from Rubery to Smethwick and back every day – a 24-mile round trip, half of which is on canal towpath.
At the time of writing, I have done about 2000 commuting miles on the Ridgeback since last July. To say it has been battered by those miles – some of which were through the worst winter for many years – would be an understatement. Virtually every part with a bearing has had to be replaced very recently, which is an indication of just how harsh commuting on a bike can be. I hope to treat it to a respray in the summer.
As the Ridgeback has got more tatty, I’ve got fitter and lost weight. My weight loss seems to have plateaued though and I’m pretty much stuck on 18 stone 3 Ib, so I came to a decision to sell my motorbike and use the proceeds to boost the family coffers and to buy dedicated road bike – the logic being that I can go further faster and so increase my workout and improve my fitness and weight loss.
After doing a fair bit of research and asking for advice from my fellow Fat Biker Bloggers, I arrived at the choice of a Giant Defy 2. It just so happens that one of my local bike shops, Northfield Cycles, is a Giant dealer and after a test ride to prove that my belly wouldn’t get in the way of the obligatory roadie crouch, the deal was done.
I’ve now had four weeks of commuting on the Giant, and it’s quick. Very quick. My normal hour-long ride home now takes just 45 minutes, and I’ve added an extra loop on the journey iin the morning to boost it from 12 miles to 20. The Giant has mudguards, front and rear LEDs and a new Brooks saddle. Other than that, it’s pretty much out of the box. I enjoy the morning blast in and, even after a 20-miler, I’m getting to work with no discernable ill effects (which, considering I was absolutely broken after a six-mile towpath commute back in July is an indication of how far I’ve come).
I will be riding the Giant far more than my Marin, and the Ridgeback will get used as a winter hack come the bad weather. But – and it’s a big but – the days out on my Marin in the countryside is where my real cycling enjoyment will come from. The road riding is a means to an end of weight loss and fitness. I have an appointment soon to revisit an old route I did in the early ’90s in North Wales, and I want to be fit enough to enjoy it.