So, it’s time for an update, I think. How do you think things have gone?
Well, a lot of things have happened. Most importantly, I bought a new bike. Oh yes. Even though my Apollo Highway hybrid was still under a year old, I was fed up with the shocking build quality and after a snapped chain, snapped axle, bent wheel, twisted cogs, and it never, ever, changing gears smoothly enough regardless of how much they were adjusted, cleaned, and sent back to Halfords, I’d had enough. At first I thought it was me, that I wasn’t “riding it right”, or not looking after it, but no – I just don’t think it was up to it.
Also, the main reason I bought a hybrid was because I didn’t know if I’d like road or off-road cycling. A hybrid does both, so it was the perfect choice, but I found I rarely used it off-road, and when I did it was pretty good dirt track rather than anything approaching an MTB route. I decided I needed something closer to a road bike.
I saw a Giant Rapid 3 cheap (it was a 2011 model, so in a clearance) and after much umming and ahhing, went for it. And I’m so glad I did, as it’s a billion times better than the Highway. Narrow tyres (25mm vs the 35mm of the Highway) and a much lighter aluminium frame, with carbon forks, both make it so much faster. It’s still not a full road bike, but it only really lacks the drop bars – something I’m not too sure about yet.
On my first ride out on it, being wary not to push it due to the tyres being so much thinner than I’d been used to, I managed to take almost two minutes off my previous best time for the same 5.4 mile route, and rode at almost 2mph faster. My average speed for my Highway rides was around 12.5mph, but now I’m usually riding at 15.5mph. Sure, it’s still not proper fast, but it is much faster.
I’m also finding hills far, far easier (although there’s still one that eludes me – it is my nemesis and one day it will be defeated), probably due to both better gearing and a bike a third of the weight of my old one. And I’ve got better and fitter, of course. You should see my massive thighs now.
All this is interesting (or not), but how well have I actually been doing? Very well, thanks.
A couple of weeks after getting the Rapid, I went out for a 37 mile ride with some friends. We stopped off a few times, but I was amazed how easy it was. Since then, my usual rides have increased in length, with longer rides being more frequent. At the start of September I managed to do just over 100 miles in a single week, when previously it had taken three weeks or so to hit that.
I’ve been getting faster too. Last year, my fastest 10 miles was 52:16. Last weekend I did 10 miles in 34:45. Sure, new bike but it’s still a 5 minute improvement over my first 10 miles on the Rapid! My fastest 1 mile is now 2:53 – a full minute faster than last year’s best, and my best hour is now 16.6 miles – 5.5 miles better than 2011. Frankly, I’m amazed at myself.
Finally, the scores. How far have I gone this year?
You may recall that I estimated I’d need £900 for game spends this year. I wanted enough miles to “buy” a Wii U and some games when it came out. At the time, there wasn’t a launch date, although near the end of the year was highly likely, or a price, which I suspected about £200. Since then, a release date of November 30th and a price of around (it depends on the model and retailer) £250 have been confirmed. With the games I want (there’ll be another post on that after the Eurogamer Expo), £400 isn’t going to be far from the total. At the time of writing, I’ve already spent £368 (I’ve never gone into the red, by the way). That means, by November 30th, I’ll need to have cycled at least 768 miles.
Today I hit 1000 miles. Already. Awesome.