Comparative Pootles

Several people have said to me, the last time on Saturday when I returned to the fold of Manotea after 205km slogging round southern England, that my Thorn Raven is not a suitable bike for Audaxing – it’s just too slow. I had always countered that the sloth was down to my impressive physique and that it was unfair to blame the bike. However, I had a suspicion that with a lighter machine I might well increase my speed a little, so with my Thorn temporarily out of action, until I can be bothered to unbolt the saddle from the Ridgeback at any rate, and with GruB sneaking past me in the Bikejournal stakes, tonight seemed to be a good opportunity to see how I got on. Mrs. Wow’s Dawes Discovery 701 is a lovely light little bike, so I put its saddle up an inch or so, and off I went.

The Dawes is a nice little alloy frame with carbon forks. It’s probably a bit small for me, and certainly I could do with a bit of a longer forward reach, but it’s not ridiculously out of proportion. It has 700c wheels and what I would describe as “summer” tyres – not exactly skinny, but with virtually no tread on them. I wouldn’t like to use them in the wet, and to have tried the Willy Warmer on them, with its damp, pot-holed, compost-laden roads, would have been asking for trouble. However, tonight the roads were dry and there was little wind, so I felt pretty confident that I wouldn’t have any problems.

Conditions tonight were also very similar to last night: little wind, overcast, dry and reasonably mild. I elected to use my Cateye computer rather than Mrs. Wow’s as mine records riding time and that was really the important factor. I had to adjust the wheel circumference setting from 1990mm to 2160mm. My riding position was more upright than I am used to, but even so I felt that I was whizzing along.

I chose exacly the same pootle tonight as I did last night on the Thorn. It’s 16.57 miles of flattish roads, involving one fast downhill section and then, at the end, a gentle uphill back home.

The results were as follows:-

Bike Distance recorded Time Ave speed Top speed
Thorn 16.57 miles 1h 20m 2s 12.42mph 31.1mph
Dawes 16.66 miles 1h 17m 0s 12.98mph <31.1mph

I didn’t record the top speed on tonight’s ride, as I foolishly forgot to reset the computer and the second ride was recorded “on top of” the first, but it was a simple matter to subtract the times and distances. The 31.1 mph from last night’s ride was still the highest speed after tonight’s.

So there it is. 3 minutes and 2 seconds shaved off my speed from the previous evening. I felt more tired at the end of tonight’s ride than I did last night, so I don’t know if that extra speed could have been maintained for a longer ride.

I don’t think these results tell me much. From an Audax point of view, the extra comfort of my featherbed Thorn machine would, I am sure, be worth a tremendous amount over a long day. Even though the Dawes has carbon forks, far more bumps were transmitted through to my hands that with the 26*1.5 tyres and carbon bars which the Thorn boasts. And the worst thing of all – and please take this as a warning – don’t sit on a saddle designed for a female unless you have the necessary physical attributes.


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