I'm certainly glad that I bought a bike with suspension as the road surfaces are sufficiently variable that it saves your arms and posterior from a real pounding. You can definitely feel the suspension compressing when you're putting on the power which obviously absorbs some of your energy but I think its a worthwhile trade-off.
After about 30 minutes I realised my error in forgetting to put on sunscreen and hat but, thankfully, the latter hour was mostly in shade so I remain unburnt.
The road to Lingyin temple was uneventful. I did realise that I was cycling behind one guy who had a couple of dirty sacks on his rack and that one of the sacks appeared to have a ready-to-eat sheep's knee protruding from the top. Whichever restaurant he was going to, I hope I never eat there...
There's a huge uphill grind (probably not very steep but as I said, it's been a while) from Lingyin Temple to the tea village of Meijiawu which culminates in a tunnel through the hills (no bad thing, I'm not sure I'd have survived going right up the hill). The tunnel itself must be 1km long but the cycle path is only wide enough for one bike yet is made with two concrete tiles across the width so there's a nice seam in the middle where you want to ride.
Coming out of the tunnel led to the first real downhill I've ridden in years - and reminded me why I like cycling. Whooshing down the hill through the village was fantastic. Unfortunately my bike doesn't have great gears (it was pretty cheap) so I'd run out of gears halfway through.
Meijiawu makes most of its money by serving the local tea to passers by. The villagers houses all have someone sitting at roadside who leaps into the road and starts flapping both arms as if they want to take off but all I got was a loud 'Whoo!' as I sailed past at (guessing) 50 kmh.
By Song Dynasty Village (1 hour in) I was quite tired and wondering if I'd gone too far for my first ride but afer another 15 mins I was in shade the rest of the way which made it much easier.
I've mentally compiled a wish list (to add to air-horn and wheel-swords):
- Cycle Computer - much more fun cycling when you know how far and how fast you've been cycling.
- Cycling Gloves - even with the suspension, some padding on the palms of your hands is nice
- Taller stem - the stem on my bike is too short so the handlebars are too low - my neck was beginning to ache
Position 1 - 2nd gear and a loud rattling noise
Position 2 - 2nd gear
Position 3 - 3rd gear
Position 4 - 5th gear
Position 5 - 6th gear
Position 6 - 6th gear and a loud rattling noise
When will someone make indexed gears that actually work (or do they already - this is obviously a fairly cheap Shimano chainset) - having said that the gears on my touring bike (sadly in my brother's garage in Preston where I guess it's decaying quietly) are pretty good although they should be - it cost 10 times what this bike cost!