The first long ride of the year was done with the London Beer and Bike Group; leaving from Bernie Spains Gardens in Southwark, the route was to take us to Cambridge via the canal towpaths in the east end of London and through Ely onward to King’s Lynn and to the beach at Hunstanton.
A new piece of kit was mounted onto Bessie the Brompton for this route to see whether it was worthwhile having the extra carry capacity: the Carradice SQR Trax bag with SQR mount. I bought this off eBay; an ex-display item (40 GBP) plus bracket direct from Carradice (for 20 GBP), totaling 60 GBP.
Officially it sounded nice enough: lots of storage at 16L hold volume, and wasn’t too heavy by itself. As the saying goes: "nature abhors a vacuum”- and the bag was filled with all sorts of needless weighty items “just-in-case”. Contents that ended in the Trax bag included: one tube, multi-tool hex wrench (unused), a spare shirt, spare shorts, sealskinz socks, other junk food items acquired and accumulated from visits to gas stations.
The bag was good for soaking up road spray and mud that could have ended up on my pants, however a rear mudguard would be a lighter solution to that problem. I think a better solution would be to use the jersey rear pockets (1 x Large, 2 x Small) to carry a reduced set of easy to access items. Everything else could have gone into a Jansport bum bag ($30 CAD).
In all, the impression of the set up was that it would not do for long distance rides. The arrangement fought against a more practical, lightweight approach to packing.
My original plan was to ride with LBBG until Kings Lynn and split off to Lincoln where I had a pre-booked Airbnb waiting. Then from Lincoln back to Manchester but it proved too much distance this early into the year. Needed to do longer rides more often for such ideas to be realistic.
The ride to Cambridge went quickly with minimal stops: a few beer / snack breaks, and two mechanicals. After plodding through an unpaved country path.
Weather proved to be good for the majority of the route, slightly drizzling after Cambridge. The timed arrival into Cambridge and Kings Lynn meant that we missed most of the rain, and caught very light winds: mostly a tailwind into Kings Lynn.
Riding the Hunstanton loop from Kings Lynn with the remnants of the initial group was the eventual outcome: having good company is key on longer rides. I too tired to cycle the extra 110 km to Lincoln after that and ended up taking a series of trains there.
One of the riders gave me some of his Skratch-Labs infused water (isotonic drink) when my own water supplies ran out. 3 hours from the end of the ride, I hit a “second-wind” that gave me the strength to keep up with the group leader. At the time, I thought that had come from eating a mouthful of digestive cookies 20 min prior. As it turned out the real cause was my body’s absorption of the Skratch Labs water. After the ride, I ordered a few packets of it from Amazon to give it a proper trial and review for myself.
Saddle soreness remains the major issue I face on long rides (>200km). The current set up on Bessie the Brompton is a titanium seat post with a Selle Italia Carbonio SLR saddle, and a firm rear suspension block to match. Perhaps a better fit might be found in lyrca underwear or maybe even try padded shorts.