When a close friend told me about his plans to ride across Iceland next year and that he was looking for something up to the task - I was hooked! If Richard says he's going to ride an event - he rides it. A matter of days later he's asked to try the Fortitude Adventure, before even having the chance to talk him through the benefits of our new creation he's whipped the bike out of my hands & he's off down the road to play. And so Richard aka Wizzers Fortitude Adventure begins.......
"It’s not about the bike……
Well according to a well-known Texan it isn’t, but is it?
I first bought a mountain bike in the early nineties no fancy suspension, no exotic materials, just a run of the mill bike with massively wide tyres, which not only sounded like a Land Rover but punctured every time I rode the thing.
Then came the day when my bike was stolen. Whilst waiting for the insurance replacement to come through months later, I discovered road bikes, and that was that for the next eighteen years.
In 2011 with mid life crisis upon me and thinking of what adventures I wanted to do, and was still physically capable of, I dusted my old replacement MTB off and rode it again for the first time, bringing back memories of punctures, accidents, back pain and rides I wouldn’t dream of repeating. Then an idea came to me after seeing pictures of the Icelandic volcanic eruption and watching a You Tube clip of someone cycling across the barren interior of the island – maybe this could be the adventure I was looking for if I was physically and mentally capable of doing such a thing – thus my Iceland idea was born.
The next question though, was what sort of bike could I use for such a expedition? I really didn’t like my old mountain bike, my road bike was far too fragile and even my trusty old Tourer would probably not be up to the job of transporting me and all my camping gear across such rugged terrain, so what would be the bike of choice?
The requirements were simple – a strong steel frame so if I should ever need it welded in the middle of nowhere it would be possible, plenty of luggage carrying capacity, nothing fancy like suspension to go wrong or knock off on Iceland’s lava strewn roads and a big enough spread of gears to get my bulk up any hills I should encounter. Out of the blue came my revelation – the Genesis Fortitude Adventure.
I’m the first to admit that having not ridden MTBs for nearly 20 years, much has changed, but what is different about the Genesis over my old MTB? Well the first and most obvious thing is that the Genesis is a ‘29er’ , and compared to riding my carbon road and TT bikes it is really hard work, but as Genesis say in their advertising, this is back to basics, real riding – the long and the short is, I feel like I have rediscovered my passion for riding bikes again.
So does it meet all the criteria for my Iceland trip? Well, the frame and non-suspension forks are very well made from Reynolds 725 steel tubing and every conceivable boss you could want is there, from mudguards and pannier racks, to a third bottle location for my stove fuel bottle and on the forks, a triple set for fitting Salsa Anything cages, should you prefer them to a Pannier set up.
The drivetrain supplied is an 11 speed Shimano Alfine sealed hub gear, obviously with a single front chainring. This is the perfect set up for my planned trip as there are no front or rear mechs for either the airlines or Iceland’s rough roads to break and very little to go wrong or require cleaning. The gear change is sweet and as far as I can see, the only possible downside to this is that rear punctures take a bit longer to fix than a standard set up. This is not an issue for my kind of riding but if repair time is a consideration, I suppose the cans of instant inflation sealant would solve the problem.
The brakes are Avid BB7 discs front and rear, which are easy to set up and change, and being cable pull rather than hydraulic, offer amazing stopping power without compromising mechanical reliability.
My Iceland trip is still being planned for summer 2013 which is a long time away, so I have plenty of time to ride the bike and get all my necessary gear organised, and what better way to get to know the Genesis than by taking it to another volcanic region, the Massif Central in France?
This trip would purely be to ride the bike, no camping, no panniers, just the bike in different conditions – grass, forest tracks, mud, sand, water, in rain and sun, day or night. So after this weeklong test session, what are my observations? I simply love it, love it, love it!!
I don’t profess to be or even want to be a technical rider, just someone who has ridden lovely light road bikes for years in local time trials and on Grand Tour stage routes, wanting something different – it’s new, it’s exciting and it’s back to basics – the simple joy of riding a bike again on any terrain I choose. Yes I do find that having no suspension can be hard on my arms but having never ridden with such refinements in the past, I can’t miss it but I think it would be missing the point anyway – this is all about experiencing the terrain for what it is, with no ‘artificial’ aids.
In many ways, I wish my big trip was this year, so I could just be out there riding it, but I will have to be patient, save my pennies and keep planning. In the meantime, thank you everyone at Genesis for providing the means for me to rekindle my cycling passion. One week in France and I didn’t even go near my road bike…… anyone want to buy my lightweight carbon TT machine?