I was impressed with the ride-ability of the Raleigh Twenty after I rode the Twenty on a recent Bike to Work day and now am utterly impressed with the Twenty after taking it on the first of my non-sanctioned 2020 Tour de Whatcom (TDW) rides.
Yesterday I left super early to do the 20 mile out and back route between downtown Bellingham and what would have been the last checkpoint in Ferndale, had this been the real TDW. I figured that if 2020 hadn’t been weird enough already, I’d throw riding my Raleigh 20 on the 2020 TDW 20 mile route into the weird mixerator, it seemed a good fit.
My non-sanctioned outlaw ride didn’t start with all the fanfare like the real ride. Rather, at 5:00am on a Sunday morning Bellingham was as quiet as I have ever seen it. Quietness was probably from a mix of the early am time, the previous day’s protests/vigil, the Covid virus, and likely the imposing cloud cover. Whatever the cause, the quietness was a bonus weird that I wasn’t even thinking about until I stood around in the middle of Holly St taking pictures with no cars or people in sight.
I figured that riding the Twenty in town would be where the it shined, and it did. No issues, it just rode like a bike. With the Twenty’s small 20 inch wheel’s, I did pay a little more attention at railroad tracks and on uneven patched sections of road, but I pay attention to those things anyway even on normal wheel size bikes. Riding out of town north on Eldridge things continued to be just a normal bike ride as long as I didn’t think about, nor look at the bike I was riding. Even the 3 speeds available to me seemed to fit perfectly during this mostly flat route. First gear on the few isolated uphill sections, third gear on the long downgrades or flats with tailwind, and second for pretty much everything else.
The rain which began as I hit Marine Drive pointed out a good thing about the Twenty as well as a really bad thing about the Twenty, both of which were not due to the Twenty’s dimunitve nature. First, the Twenty’s mudgaurds, aka fenders, worked great. The fenders aren’t just little add on items, they are full coverage fenders befitting a utility bike rather than a sunny Sunday ride bike. Second, when the chrome steel rims the on the Twenty are cold and wet, I’d have better lucks stopping by dragging my feet on the ground than pulling the brake levers. Riding this bike downhill in the rain is dangerous, that is just a fact.
Rain or no rain, brakes or no brakes, I enjoyed riding the 20 mile route, a route that I likely wouldn’t have ridden, on a bike that I wouldn’t have ridden, in a normal Tour de Whatcom year. The 40 mile route is next and it follows much of the same roads, but just extends out to Birch Bay area. I am thinking that it will be done on the Raleigh International, hopefully in the warm sun.