Got a new bike
After 12 years of trusty service, with 5384 miles on the computer, my old bike, a Dawes Giro Audax, has finally given up the ghost; it was an excellent purchase. I got it just after I moved to London, really didn't have much cash, immediately post-PhD. At around 600 quid, it was expensive, but turned out to be worth every penny. It was quick, comfortable, usable for training, usable for commuting. And after 12 years, the paint job and most of the rest of it is still flawless.
Well except for the STI shifter which finally popped on me and is essentially unfixable, especially as the bike has a 7 speed block at the back, which they just don't make any more. I have to sigh a bit at this; the economics of planned obsolescence might make sense, but it's a pretty stupid way to manufacture things. In the past, you could expect more than 10 years out of a bike before it became incompatible with current specs.
So, I needed a new bike. In the end, I decided to go for a more straightforward tourer; in the 12 years since the Audax bike, my legs have got older and slower. So I bought a Ridgeback Voyage. It's very Dawes like; I got lucky on the fashion cycle (pun), because steel seems to have made a strong recovery against alumimium. 3 or 4 years ago, I wouldn't have got steel for love nor money. It's got one of the newer "everything with an allen key" handlebar arrangements; seems to work well, except that I tend to scrape my leg while honking up a hill. The ride is firm but comfortable; the larger tyres makes bumps that would have rattled the Dawes non-existance, while the greater mud guard clearance leaves space for more (I'd upped the tyres on the Dawes till I had only a few mm of space). In short, nothing exceptional, just everything well put together.
The group set is similarly functional. The STI gear levers work reasonably but are not as nice as the Dawes: the main lever has a little too much sideways, and seems to get away from you when braking. The second lever (on the side rather than a dual lever) is functional but can only be operated on the hoods. Still, the play in the brakes is more than made up for with the secondary levers --- more than a suitable replacement for the old suicide bars; these are so good that I have started to use them as my main downhill brake.
I've been bombing around the countryside since I bought it; up to 200 miles so far, including a run out to Hexham. It may not be the fastest bike in the world, but it's so comfortable that it feels like I could go for ever.