Project Phil Part 6: First ride

So after a quick build with only a very minor hiccup with the rear hub the bike was ready for it's first ride.  I often explore the countryside on Google maps to find routes, and I spotted this on a public bridleways map.  In the southeast of England this stood out as it was one of the longest and most continuous bridleways which started around Guildford and ended near Brighton.

View Downs Link Ride in a larger map

I Googled it and it was how I suspected, it was a former railway line now called the Downs Link.  I guessed this because it was very straight with only very long gentle turns with a consistent width.  There is more information at the Sussex council website.  The railway line used to run connecting several small towns but was closed during the controversial Beeching Cuts during the mid 1960's.

Day 1: Downs link
The trail starts along the canal towpath and then soon turns onto the beginning of the railway.  The towpath was quite mucky and muddy from the rain in the previous week.  There were a lot of dead leaves everywhere which created some slippery sections.

There were a lot of remnants of the old railway such as these large wide overpasses and the occasional passing loop.  The width of the path was quite as you would imagine, although I started to get a bit bored by the straightness and flatness of the route.  I'm glad I had off-road tyres as the train tracks and ballast were long gone and only dirt was left.

The dynamo lighting got its first real test on this ride too, after the sun set at 4pm or thereabouts it was more or less complete darkness as there was no street lighting out in the country.  The standlight feature on the Cyo was a bit annoying as the Downs link signage (which was quite good by the way) was on unlit signposts; the main beam turns off as soon as the front wheel stops and the little LEDs function as the standlight which makes it difficult to see signage.  Other than that the range of the Cyo was a huge step up from what was used to, the beam was very broad as well which made night riding a completely different experience.

As the route was quite flat I didn't really get to push the braking system to its limits, however the brakes were broken in at this point and even through heavy mud, rain and gravel they gave effortless braking.

  However my bum was quite sore towards the end as the route was quite bumpy, also the saddle I have is a Selle Italia SLK which is a lot less forgiving than a Brooks which is what I'm used to.  Maybe I'll have to save up for one...

The bike however handled brilliantly, it stays composed riding over tree roots, ruts, mud and whatever else you could throw at it.  While it can't replace a dedicated MTB, it sure is very capable of taking on light trail riding like this in a pinch; it's able to ride places where a skinny tyred road bike wouldn't dare venture.

The fit of the bike feels spot on for me, luckily.  I chose the frame size from the horizontal top tube measurement which is similar to what I'm used to, however the bars are still reasonably high currently.   The drivetrain was just as I remembered it on my Cinelli, smooth clicks up and down as it always was.

After reaching Shoreham-by-sea and then heading east for a bit I made it to the familiar Brighton pier.  At this point my body was quite tired, my right knee and my bum were sore but I made it, the distance wasn't even that long but most of the path was dirt which takes it out of you a lot more.

Day 2: Richmond Park
The Sunday after, I decided to go for a very relaxed ride in Richmond park with some friends as a bit of a warm down.  This wasn't really at all challenging but it was a nice way to spend a Sunday chasing some deer.

I had a great first weekend with the bike, even though the next few days my leg was still quite sore and I had a slight limp.  I haven't done a long ride on dirt like that for a while, I really enjoyed it although other times I wish I could have been travelling faster on a smoother flatter surface.  I'm still yet to do a proper road ride, but now I have my slicks on it I'll plan something soon.

The build has met my expectations though, I'm glad I am able to do rides like this and tackle light dirt riding but still be able to ride on the road comfortably.  Even with the 28mm tyres I had on Mr Ramen I don't think I would have been able to tackle some of the mud and dirt that I encountered.  The discs performed admirably as well, giving very precise and consistent braking in all conditions.

Stay tuned for the next ride report, however that's the end of the build diary.  Thanks for reading.


  1. You can't put a brooks on this bike dude.
    What's the plan with fenders, i assume you were plastered with dirt by the end of the first ride? Have you found a solution to that issue?
    Also wondering how the toe overlap is on this bike when commuting or riding tighter city streets where occasionally you need to edge around vehicles etc? (my commuter's hopeless, i had to rip the front crudbuster off because i kept kicking it, and then it would get sucked up into the forks by the tyre.

    Cool build anyway, nice work.

  2. Yeah I don't think I will, I get numbness from my old B17 on long rides so I prefer a saddle with a cutout. Only a little bit of dirt after the first ride, although I may end up putting slightly narrower knobblies (standard CX ones are 32mm) which should fit under the guards.

    Toe overlap is still there, it doesn't ever really bother me to be honest.