I have been training for Irelands coast to coast race. The race takes place on the weekend of the 14th and 15th May. Training has been relaxed in my usual kind of way. Half marathons here and there with a few long rides on my road bike. The Kayak training has been little to none with other things getting in the way. I have had a few nights on the water but not near enough.
One main concern I have had was my road bike. I think my bike is close to 12 years old and way to small for me. I took it for a 130km ride on my own and knew the pain I was in after was not down to distance it was down to the bike.
I have always been told to prepare right for a race, so race day is all about racing. With this in the back of my mind I decided the bike had to be changed. I decided if I wanted a bike for the race I want a really good bike. Sean Kelly is brand ambassador for Vitus Bikes so this was the bikes of choice for me. Sean Kelly is one of my all time favourite Cyclists so what is good enough for Sean Kelly is good enough for me.
The Vitus Dark Plasma VR will be the bike I ride for race day. The bike comes with a very smooth looking carbon frame, full carbon fork and steerer. The groupset is the shimano 105 with a compact double 105 chainset. The bike boasts a really neat wheelset in the Pro-Lite Merano with Schwalbe race tyres.
I was smiling at how nice the bike looks with its striking white, red and black colour and bold graphics. I just had to get straight out on it with a small 40km blast to get a feel for it. Clipping in and I was of (Like a rocket) The bike is just 8.5kg and this light weight frame can really go. I had to ease up as I wanted to go through the gears, find how how the shifting felt, feel how it braked. All the usual things you do with a new bike. I sometimes take a few rides to get a comfortable riding position on a new bike but this felt so comfortable straight away. After slowly working the gear range and testing the brakes I decided to take the bike to a nice flat road. I knew from the moment I got on the bike that it could move but I wanted to see how it felt at speed. I flicked the chain into the big ring and got the head down pedalling hard the bike just responded so well. I could feel it powering forward with every pedal stroke almost inviting me to give it some more. So it felt good pushing it hard next up I would try it on the corners. With the wheelset and tyres I was confident they would do their job but how would it feel as an overall package? I headed out of the city and into some quiet country roads that I knew had a few nice bends. Again pushing a big gear I picked up a bit of speed and took the corners with ease. The bike steered really well through the corners so I increased the speed on the next few. It was feeling better and better with each bend in the road. The bike felt really solid as I leaned it in. There was no twitching from the bike giving me more confidence with each turn. This was the first ride and all good rides have to include a steep climb. I stayed in the saddle and pushed it as hard as I could. The light weight frame, smooth pedal stroke made this normally tough climb feel easy. It almost felt I was getting some help as I pedalled up the hill. In a way I was with what is turning out to be a great bike. Next I think I will take it for a good long ride to see how comfortable it feels over distance.
With the bike ticking all the boxes so far I know what you are thinking. How much does a bike like this cost. Well this bike is aimed at a mid price road bike market. The complete package comes in at a very competitive £1499.99. There is a full description on the Chainreactioncycles website for those who want more info or are in the market for a new bike.
• Frame: HM Carbon 12K
• Forks: Full Carbon
• Handlebars: Controltech Viento Frame size-bar width 50cm-380mm,53cm-400mm, 55cm-420mm, 58cm-440mm
• Stem: Controltech Estro Frame size-Stem reach 50cm-90mm,53cm-100mm, 55cm-110mm, 58cm-120mm
• Bartape: Vitus Dual Compound
• Headset: Semi-Integrated
• Chainset: Shimano 105 – 50x34t
• Chain: Shimano 105
• Cassette: Shimano 105 – 12-25t
• Shifters: Shimano 105 – 10 Speed
• Rear Derailleur: Shimano 105
• Front Derailleur: Shimano 105
• Brakes: Shimano 105
• Saddle: Vitus Cr-Mo Rail
• Seatpost: Controltech M Post
• Wheels: Vitus by Pro-Lite
• Tyres: Schwable Blizzard Kevlarguard – 700x23c
• Weight : 8.22kg (56cm)