Turf Blog 28-06-24

Finally, yes finally, I’ve got my new turfing bike fully kitted out, dialled in and can now say I have the ultimate turfing bicycle. Well, in my humble opinion anyway. And that is quite timeous as yet another message pinged into the inbox this morning asking when I’d be posting an update on this topic. The email was rather curt but was from a turfer in Sweden and perhaps English was not her first language. So, no problem, here was go.

The base of my ultimate turfing bicycle is a medium Ribble CGR SL with the Shimano 1o5 group set. I chose the carbon fibre frame option as it weighed the least and also because I’ve always wanted one. Other frame options include the cheapest aluminium, traditional Reynolds 725 steel and silly money titanium. The bike is marketed as a jack of all trades, the CGR standing for Cross, Gravel and Road, which seems the ideal option for a turfing bike where you will encounter just about every type of terrain available, and that in a single turf session.

First item to be changed were the tyres and inner tubes. I wanted a good solid set of tyres and fitted a set of 35 x 700 Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour (bought previously for another bike but not used), essentially heavy-duty touring or expedition tyres, something you might use for a wee trip around the world. They offer great puncture protection and a decent tread for off-road riding while still being fast running. The main thing they offer is confidence and a degree of comfort on any surface. The inner tubes were fine but as the valve stems could not be removed to allow puncture sealant to be inserted, they had to go. While fitting the tyres I also added set of basic SKS Bluemels 45mm plastic mudguards. Seems daft getting wet and muddy when you can stay dry.

Next pedals. Bikes these days do not usually come with pedals, even those costing £10000 and above which to the lay person seems crazy but it is what it is. I had a set of DMR V12 MTB magnesium pedals which I used on all my bikes. To me it does not seem sensible to go for clipless pedals when turfing, an activity that has you stopping/starting and off/on bike possibly even 100’s of time in a session.

Next, load carrying. I’ve never been very keen on using rucksacks while cycling, long preferring to have the bike carry the load rather than my aging, and occasionally aching, back. Initial thoughts were for a custom frame bag but I eventually settled for the following: a 4-litre Alpkit Toploader* handlebar bag and 2-litre Possum frame bag along with two side-loading bottle cages, one for the tool kit and another for the water bottle. Means I have to minimise on what I can carry but that’s no bad thing.

Now, handlebars. I knew the initial drop bar setup was not ideal and set about a few changes. A set of Redshift Topshelf flared handlebars gave me the 50mm rise I wanted, along with a slight increase in width. Reversing the handlebar stem, so that it pointed up rather than down, also added a few more millimetres rise. I did need some experimentation as to the position of the brake/shifter levers but after much trial and error, found the optimal position for myself. The setup now feels very comfortable and no back ache! The cockpit was finished off with a bell, the phone mount and a Knog Blinder Road 600 as a flashing daytime running light. Sorted.

There is one possible future addition I’m considering and that is a Redshift Shockstop Stem. It’s essentially a replacement handlebar stem with built-in suspension. It will not match the capability of suspension forks but will even out some the vibrations you get at the handlebars when cycling on rough surfaces such as gravel and even degraded tarmac roads. However, at around £160.00 for the privilege, some further thought and research required first.

And to finish, a warning to all turfers who venture into the countryside this time of year. During two turfing sessions, one around Melville Castle Hotel and another around the Millerhill area I picked up three ticks on my legs. And this was either cycling or kick scooting, both while wearing shorts. So, as ticks can sometimes carry the very nasty Lyme’s disease, please check your body for the little blighters and remove them. Kind of puts me off going into the countryside. More soon.

*Shaun the Sheep loves riding in the Toploader.

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