Horses for courses and the 15mph average cross country speed.

Well now I've always had a bit of a problem with my Tassajara bike. I built it up from a frame bought off eBay, and ended up with a sub 25lb machine. On the first outing I blitzed everything and found it silly fast. My riding buddy at the time ended up being left behind whilst I sped off in a giggle. So the next time out I slowed down to his normal pace and the bike didn't feel right; too frisky and not at all happy. Naturally by then I'd forfotten the huge fun that it was when given its head cross country so blamed the sheer length of the machine. As a result I built up the PACE RC303, a much heavier bike more suited to, well, not going fast and all was well.

Two years down the line, weather here in Surrey hot, trails dry and for a change I took the Tassajara out for a spin. The reason being that I was time constrained and didn't fancy the faffage of getting another rig out. The stretched out riding position felt really wierd and I liked it not one bit. For the first two or three miles I was pondering selling it on eBay, or stripping it down and building a proper bike. But going through Gatton Park and the Reigate Hill climb I suddenly realised that I'd been happily spinning the middle ring all the way up. I've been cycling this hill for over 20 years now, and on most bikes I'm pretty similar both speed and gear wise. So for me to be two gears harder kind of suggests that the bike was the main player.

This kind of thing persisted throughout my ride of 22 miles, which I blitzed in around 90 minutes.

So on my second ride of the weekend which bike did I chose? Yup, the Tass again and again I blitzed around. A tad slower perhaps as on my first ride I was getting rather dramatic tank slappers on some of the gravel descents and didn't feel like replicating them thanks. Even so my trip back from Headley Heath to the Urban Kitchen at Reigate took less than 20 minutes, which isn't so shabby for somebody pretty close to 50 years old now is it? I've no idea how far it is distance wise, but often we amble the ride in around 40 minutes.

Now Dear Reader you are going to make the assumption that I'm going to ditch my other bikes and just keep this one? No, not at all. Whilst it is fun to blitz around at race pace all the time, covering the ground like some kind of mild mannered ballistic missile, it does mean that the ride loses a certain appeal. There's no time for chat, cake stops or just looking at things as they pass by. It's all a blur. Also if you've just done ten miles at 80% heart rate max, then you're not about to pull down to 60% max for the next hill climb are you? Nope, you push a little harder and try and maintain the same gearing. On one gravel climb a group of cyclists stopped for me to complete my run, so I pushed to almost 100% effort and then carried on at silly speeds once completed. Whilst it was fun to do the climb at a greater speed than they descended [I could hear them on the brakes all the way down, feet out style] to me that's not what a ride is about. I want to ride at a pace that allows for reflection, to clear my mind of the week's work debris. The shitty meeting, that 100 mile drive in traffic, or the usual refusal of normal business expenses claim. For me a ride at full pelt just leaves all that debris in there for me to deal with when I get home. Where a little amble around, one that involves a bit of a mad rush here and there, seems to apply soothing balm to weekly work and family crap. I get home all chilled, offering to take the kids out to lunch, perhaps crack a beer open, or even start baking cakes. Plus the 100mm stem on the Tassajara makes life interesting when the trail points downwards......

No, it's nice to have a rabid, long stem cross country machine in my little collection, but really it is far too focused a machine for normal life where you ride with mates. Nope, that one I'll leave aside for high days when I need the adrenaline rush from covering ground at silly speeds. But it does show how capable bikes are doesn't it? I mean, here's a 25lb machine with 90mm forks that's faster then anything else I own. Wonder what it'd be like with 900g rigid carbon forks and 2x10 gearing? Now that would be a true single minded device. But then it'd be a money spend, and I may as well just buy one of those £850 Boardman bikes and be done with it.