Rapha’s fifth installment of Hell of the North is on April 13th. Run as an homage to the Spring classic that is Paris-Roubaix, the Hell of the North takes in 100 kilometers of rough roads to the north of London. Past editions have seen some 20 odd gravé sectors, which mean I’m reluctant to take my Bosberg out. The clearances for the tyres are pretty minimal and occasionally bits of gravel and small stones end up rubbing the brake bridges. Time to dust off the old CAADX, which saw very little use last cross season. Think I’ll shod my H Plus Sons with some 28mm Continentals.
Entry is free. Well I say is, spaces are very limited and this year’s edition was full in record time. The ride sets off at roughly 10:00AM with a midway feed stop before returning to a pub in Barnet for a screening of the real deal, Paris-Roubaix, with Belgian frites and beer to wash it down. I can’t wait.
I’m always on the lookout for a little n+1. Where n is the current number of bikes in the stable. Recently I’ve grown slightly despondent with the “latest and greatest”. Sure carbon is an awesome material and compact geometries are stiffer and more comfortable, but there’s something about a traditional top tube and the straight butted tubes that adorn older frames. The Bianchi below may not be to everyone’s cup of tea, but in my eyes I’d rock that everyday of the week (and weekend).
Okay, maybe I’d have to change a couple of things, but apart from the saddle and stem angle that almost looks like a work of art. I’ll even look the other way on the horrible Liquigas, celeste colour clashing. Something which I can’t do in the current pro-peloton with Belkin. Which kindly brings me onto my next point, I currently ride a rather lovely Ritte Bosberg, if I’m changing the material and geo why not mix-up the paint too? Or should I say the lack of paint? The Firefly tumblr is some bike-porn of the highest order. Gorgeous picture after picture of precise welds and brushed titanium. However, confession time: I’ve never ridden a titanium frame. I briefly flirted with the idea of a Litespeed 4 years ago, even going so far as to order and fit a Xicon, alas I didn’t take the plunge. A bit of a shame really as I’ve since been through 2 carbon frames from a manufacturer that will remain nameless, but that’s a story for another time.
Now late night dreaming of the n+1 and it’s ideal specifications. Hours spent deliberating over bottom bracket standards. Hollowtech II still rules the longevity and serviceability stakes, however there is a Cannondale SISL chainset gathering dust under my bed. Gruppos and finishing kits are carefully agonised over too. Do you make the jump to 11 speed? Or do those multiple cassettes still come out when you’ve got your climbing legs on? Dura-ace 9000 is an amazing piece of kit from an engineering perspective, I currently run a 9000 chainset and brakes on my Bosberg. I’ve always been a Shimano person myself, I never particularly enjoyed SRAM or Campagnolo, but hey, if I’m going to be changing so much of the bike already, what’s the gruppo in the scheme of things, right?
All these thoughts actually bring me to the irony of the situation. If I really want another bike in the house I’d have to free up space and also some cold hard cash to make the dream come true. Do I dare? I mean nobody writes about n-1…