UK Pistola Adventure Part Two: Oxford to Bath

Riding the 72 miles from Oxford to Bath was hard. It rained. I got wet. The wind blew thin sheets of mist in my face for much of the ride. The journey from London to Oxford the day before left me with sore legs and red marks on my shoulders from carrying the heavy backpack. With that, the ride to Bath brought me through incredible landscapes and treated me with some cool surprises along the way, like the Neolithic monuments of Avebury, roughly 20 miles north of Stonehenge.

From Oxford to Bath

When I rode upon these I honestly had no clue what they were, but I had the sense they were historically significant in some way. I learned the next day that these standing stones were Neolithic monuments! How cool is that? This is the joy of traveling like this. You stumble upon history and learn by experiencing it.

Luckily I brought a jersey made from the hair of the animals shown in the picture below. Baaah!

From Oxford to Bath

Yes, the wool jersey kept me warm amidst the rain, cold and wind. With fewer than 30 miles completed on the 72-mile journey from Oxford to Bath I had to stop for some hot coffee and unique treats. These pastries hit the spot way more than the Firecracker Lobster crisps the day before.

From Oxford to Bath

Soon after the wool jersey, coffee and pastries I was back on the road traversing the carefully sculpted landscape of England. Some of the views were astounding and I found myself hitting the brakes to take a picture. My legs were still begging me for forgiveness and my backpack never quit letting me know it was there, but how could I be too concerned when the scenes around me looked like this:

From Oxford to Bath

The stretch between Oxford and Bath was incredibly beautiful and full of interesting parks, historical sites and rolling roads. It felt like I was riding through a history, geography and sociology book all at the same time. All of these elements were filtering through this incredible riding experience. It stood in stark contrast to being encapsulated in a car, bus or train: the expressions on peoples’ faces when they see you in the rain on a bike, randomly stumbling upon neolithic sites, seeing and smelling the textures of exotic roadkill, navigating foreign driving etiquette on a bicycle…this all culminated in an experience that is so real that it seemed unreal, too good to be true. The photo below randomly happened while I was taking a photo of this historic building. This classic car just happened to be driving by at the time, and I can hardly believe I had the opportunity to spontaneously take the below photo on October 14, 2008. After taking this photo I slid my camera back into my jersey pocket right next to my Iphone. It was like a scene out of Back to the Future!

From Oxford to Bath

After 72 miles and several hours in the saddle I arrived in Bath right at dusk, the smell of diesel fumes circulating through the air as people made their way home after work. People were riding their upright bikes in the bus lane, looking at me like I was crazy as I passed them with my HUGE backpack. I was proud to have made it to Bath, physically depleted but mentally energized from the experience I just had riding the Pistola from London. I checked into my hotel, took a shower, then hit the streets for some food. It ended up taking a few hours to get food because I couldn’t stop taking photos. Bath is a beautiful city.

From Oxford to Bath

The Pistola impressed me in it’s ability to absorb road vibration and dampen larger impacts (ruts, asphalt cracks) to the rear triangle. I had about 20 pounds of backpack sitting on my lower back, so the forgiveness that the 11mm seatstays added was much appreciated. Overall, the geometry and frame construction felt very well balanced. On the front end, the Alpha Q CS 10 fork (with OX platinum steerer) kept handling solid and predictable. The tall headtube kept me in a position suitable for a long haul ride such as this, while still allowing for a performance-oriented position if I needed to get in a tuck while descending.

From Oxford to Bath

The tall and wide interface between the chainstay and BB shell provided impressive drivetrain stiffness for a steel frame. With my backpack, I weighed about 210-215 pounds and did not experience any chain rub on the front derailleur while riding out of the saddle cranking on the pedals. Some of the 12% sections on the old Roman lanes really put this to the test. The 2009 SRAM Rival components performed flawlessly on the Mavic Aksium wheelset.

It was an exciting late summer/early fall season of riding Salsa’s new 2009 road products. The Podio was well-suited for my ride across Switzerland, where there was significant alpine climbs through the Alps on very smooth road surfaces. With it’s Scandium tubing it is light, incredibly responsive and the flattened stays allowed for adequate compliance on Swiss roadways.

Likewise, the Pistola was well-suited for the ride from London to Bath, where I encountered beat up roads built hundreds of years ago by the Romans. There was adequate drivetrain stiffness to help over the short and steep climbs, with an incredible amount of vertical compliance to take the edge off the, at times, relentless road surface.

With that, I’ll sign off by saying, take life by the handlebars and pursue countless riding experiences you will carry with you for the rest of your life!

David Gabrys

From London to Oxford

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Essie Reeves | January 12th, 2012

I so love the structure of the church. Is it a church? I admire your determination on your ride. And I love the part because it’s true. There’s more to life than bitterness.

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