The Saracen seems to be working as expected, not super smooth but not terrible either. A couple of upgrades to tires, cables and a new chain and I can at least pedal it, although I think the rear hub needs some attention. While researching potential bike routes I found a Wiggle (online sports brand) route that crosses over the South Downs and as I am heading to Southampton I figured an extra hour in the car and I can try out the Epic route, around 60km.
The weather in the UK is still pretty poor, chilly in the mornings with rain showers around. I had to carry an extra layer and with the extra tools, spanners to remove the wheels, my bag was fairly heavy. The ride started out fairly mellow and easy, just following the GPS takes a bit of time and sometimes it takes a while to realise you have taken a wrong turn. After passing a few other people and riding up a few different hills the bike was performing okay, the seat still will not go up or down so I have no choice but to ride with it at the height its stuck at, not great for uphills and not great for downhills. The gear range on the bike is also not great for uphills or maybe I am just weak at riding since its been a couple of months.
The trail follows mainly double track, its no IMBA epic through some typical English countryside, the bike does not roll great and with my lack of fitness and lack of a “granny ring” the hils towards the end of the ride were quite tough. Anything on double track was fine, riding on the South Downs Way was easy enough but some of the offroad trails which were wet made we wish for the end 🙂
Luckily I pushed through as some of the more fun downhill (not really downhill, more like a gentle slope downhill but probably the best on this bike with rim brakes) was towards the end of the ride. It was good to get out on the bike and test out riding a fully ridged 26 year old bike but I miss the North Shore 🙁