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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Giant among bikes

My sparkly new Giant Escape N7

During my retirement party in Spain it was announced that my present was to be a mountain bike. This fantastically generous gesture was absolutely unexpected. However, with expert advice from no less an authority than the Titchfield Cycling Association (TCA), it was decided that a Giant Escape N7 would be appropriate for my needs. This robust road bike will also cope with moderate off-road trails. And so it was to Top Mark specialist cycling dealer in Barrow-in-Furness that I went to place my order. For the experts, the technical specifications can be scrutinised here, but in brief:

Frame ALUXX aluminium, Fluid Formed; Fork CroMo rigid; Brakes Shimano Nexus Roller Brakes; Wheels Alex ACE 18 rims, Shimano Nexus hubs; Drivetrain Shimano Nexus 7 speed; Size 19".

After a couple of hours fixing the accessories and a couple of local spins to get the feel of the bike, I decided my first proper adventure should be in deepest Furness (see map below).

Handle-bar bag for binoculars, camera, portable telephone, digital voice recorder and map. Bracket for GPS.

Rear bracket for saddle tool bag (with still room for Rennies and a Mars bar), lunch pack and cagoul.

Drink bottle (must remember to fill it!), pump and D-lock securely clamped to the frame


I transported the bike in the back of my X-trail to Great Urswick and set of from there. It wasn't long before memories of the cycling days of my first childhood* came flooding back: zipping along country roads on a warm, but not overbearing, June morning with the wind in my face, battered by flying insects, midges up my nose and in my lungs... But above all, I could HEAR the birds of the hedgerows singing: Whitethroats, Willow Warblers, Tree Sparrows, to name but three.

The circular route was planned to pass some of the tarns of the Furness Peninsula, which are known to attract interesting migrants and breeding birds. The first was Urswick Tarn with Great Crested Grebes and Coots on the open water, Reed Warblers singing in the fringes and Swallows and House Martins hawking for insects. Then on south through Scales to Mere Tarn, a delightful reedy water almost hidden from view which had breeding lapwing and a couple of recently-fledged Grey Herons.

It was then but a short leg past Gleaston Castle to the old watermill at Gleaston where I discovered the Dusty Miller café by the old water mill. Although I appreciate that coffee and cherry flan with clotted cream is not strictly in accord with the customs of TCA, it was just the job at 10.30 am on a Sunday morning!

Morning coffee at the Dusty Miller by Gleaston Water Mill

The return route took me north via Stainton back to Urswick Tarn where I had my sandwich and flask of coffee whilst listening to the song of a Reed Warbler on the edge of the Tarn. Finally, in respect to TCA, a visit was made to the General Burgoyne in Great Urswick for a glass of shandy.

* It has been asserted that I never left it.

The blue arrows show the route (the big one at Great Urswick is where I parked). Big green blob is Mere tarn; big red blob is The Dusty Miller café.


Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

When I first arrived at your blog, and saw the photo of a bike... I thought I had come to simon's blog instead!!!! Looks like a wonderful bike.. and looks like you will have some great trips on it. Here we don't have enough rural cafes for such indulgences in the middle!

7:48 pm  
Blogger Davy said...

Nice one Jim, you look well equipped. I like the "red tinny", very proffessional.

9:12 pm  
Blogger Penless Thoughts said...

Looks like you've been blessed and enjoying a grand time.

10:49 pm  
Blogger simon said...

BLOODY FANTASTIC! Jim, I think you will see birding differently,

eg yesterday at dusk I was riding and got fantastic views of lyre birds of the track. If the bike is silent you can really cover the ground.

Looks well equipped too. whats the gear change like?

12:08 am  
Blogger Ju's little sister said...

Since I hardly know a thing about bikes "well equipped" is probably the only honest compliment I could give you ;-)

You'll look great biking about on that thing, and I do like your alternative to the bottle of water. You don't have to worry about remembering to fill it first, either...

(wsbhsxmk - do they want the whole alphabet??)

3:15 am  
Blogger Maalie said...

Thanks everyone!

Simon: Gears? Do you mean the thing you fiddle with when come to a hill? Well, I'll start to use them as soon as I can find the clutch. Haven't got that far in the owner's manual, but I'm told there of 7 of them. In the rear wheel hub I think, it looks a bit bulky.

7:10 am  
Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

My gears are in the bulky rear wheel hub as well: how very "Dutch" of us. I say that because I saw lots of Dutch with such gears while I was in the Loire last year!

7:12 am  
Blogger Tortoiseshell said...

"...saddle tool bag"

Looks suspisciously "dude" to me...

nevertheless, I like the idea of a "robust road bike" - probably what I'll require in my new abode.

9:06 am  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

We will have to have some cycle rides around here when we all come back from our various trips. Likewise think the water carrier is a good idea. Can't think why I never thought of it before.

Do you take Sylvia with you?

Today's word: bzumdum
second attempt: iuxug

10:51 am  
Blogger simon said...

yes.. but chosen well.. I mean you cannot get them wrong.. and they need little you cannot "burn" them out!

10:56 am  
Anonymous Ellee said...

This looks absolutely fabulous, I get the feeling you know how very lucky you are.

11:19 am  
Blogger Merisi said...

That looks like one bike I could handle, maybe, and the sight of it enduced serious bike envy here. I grew up on a bike (there was no other way to get around, also to school), and I still miss it. Hope I don't have to wait til retirement. Good travels to you! :-)

2:26 pm  
Blogger Maalie said...

Thanks again everyone. I've had a few rides now and it's going very well indeed.

Tortoiseshell: Yes, I have to agree with you, this biking lark seem to be all about 'image'. Never mind, I'm being fitted out for a lycra suit when I get back from Poland.

5:23 pm  
Blogger Tina said...

enjoy it, looks like fun!

6:15 pm  
Blogger TCA said...

All the gear is all to do with utility not image... having said that wearing a T-shirt over a green shirt is a fashion aberration = get yourself a loose fitting cycle jersey!


8:21 pm  
Blogger Maalie said...

I just wanted to look "conspicuous" (i.e. to traffic, not to other bikers) and it was all I could find. Have now got a luminescent waistcoat thing to put on top of everything.

9:04 pm  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

If you buy a pair of Linfords (lycra cycle shorts) please wear a little tutu thing over it to spare the blushes of the ladies of Cumbria. You needn't bother with the tutu if you cycle in Cheshire as we are a much hardier lot.

today's word: eunon. I feel inclined to put a 'k' instead of the 'n'

10:27 am  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

p.s. TCA's suggestion of a cycle jersey is good. They have pockets in the back to keep your apples in.

10:28 am  
Anonymous Ellee said...

Jim, have a safe journey for your next trip, I shall be in Greece for a week next week, I could really do with a good break.

7:56 pm  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Nice looking bike. Hope you have many happy rides on it.

I couldn't help but notice that on the chalkboard outside the cafe (with you wearing that red top that appears to be welded onto your shirt, TCA is absolutely right about it being a fashion aberration, although that may be a bit rich coming from me) it said
'Lots of new stock in pig's whisper' if you look closely.

Can you or anyone else throw light onto the meaning of this?


8:43 pm  
Blogger Maalie said...

Lorenzo: Apples? Since when did Mars bars go out of fashion?

Look here.

10:19 pm  
Blogger Merisi said...

... "and pigs to give your sister"! *g* So, you got a good supply?

4:51 am  
Blogger Ju's little sister said...


"..I'm being fitted out for a lycra suit when I get back.."

Heaven forbid....

- vwyyls -

10:14 am  
Blogger Maalie said...

"Heaven forbidding may be pious, but not to the point"! - quote by the lawyer Jaggers in Charles Dicken's Great Expectations LOL!

I've already checked out Lycra gear on internet bike dealers. It seems very functional...

Thanks for nice comments everyone, I'm off to Poland today, due back in a week, hope to have some nice pictures to put up for you :-)

10:24 am  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Hey, we can turn Maalie's blogsite into a chatroom again!
The thought of Maalie in lycra is really quite disturbing. I hope he remembers to get the chamois leather inserts for his shorts.
Jack pumped by racing bike up for me yesterday, rock hard, and I went off for a quick spin, not wearing the requisite equipment around the nether area and lived to regret it.
JLS: If you want good verification words, the trick is to deliberately make a mistake when typing it in, so it comes back at you and demands you try again. Do this long enough and a good word comes up!
YES!! on second attempt got

10:34 am  
Blogger simon said...

lycra, jack is rock hard? lorenzo.. I find your writing disturbing.....

Even Davy says Jim looks well equipped... its a worry.. i mean Davy spent time alone with Jim on the moors n all!

11:10 am  
Blogger TCA said...

That's fluorescent, not luminescent.

3:13 pm  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Actually Simon I don't think it is Davey we should ask whether Jim is well equipped. nudge, nudge, wink, wink, a nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse ....

While he is away perhaps we should plan how to wean him off that mad old Dawkins bloke.

6:44 pm  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

p.s. your comment Simon on Jack being rock hard and in lycra is in dubious good taste!

5:06 pm  
Anonymous Ellee said...

Is Lorenzo calling Jim a "blind horse"?

I hope he is having a great time.

9:44 pm  
Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

I passed a cyclist wearing Giant-brand lycra today. Shame I was in the car and so quickly passed really!

10:06 am  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Hello everyone from the Azores! Not seen many birds but loads of clouds and rain and mist!

Found an internet cafe, but haven't had time to update blog.
Setting off tomorrow (Saturday) midday.

Be in touch possibly, when we get to Ireland.
Love lorenzo. x
today's word is

7:11 pm  

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