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What We Ride: Emma’s utterly marvellous Cannondale R1000

Emma Cole
15 Jun 2022

This bike was my entry to road cycling, the beginning of it all

This Cannondale R1000 CAAD 8 is the reason I love cycling. It is a truly marvellous bike which has taken me on some wonderful adventures and brought me total, utter happiness.

I was lucky enough to get it second-hand, and I love the stories its wear and tear tell.

So let me tell you one now.

How I came across the bike

In the spring of 2018, I was working in London at a fintech start-up riding a burgundy 5-speed Raleigh Misty I had bought from a charity shop.

I was whipping up a storm riding through the streets of Hackney, chasing down men in Lycra, having the time of my life.

But it was a constant battle of cat and mouse, me rattling past them at first, but soon enough, click click and they would whistle past me, the whirr of a bike with more than five gears echoed in my ears.

I was starting to get frustrated with my beloved Misty.

I needed more speed. I needed more gears.

That’s when my friend’s dad Jamie, a cycling enthusiast, said he might have something in his garage.

And thus, it all began.



That moment

You know when you try something for the first time and it just clicks?

Well the day I sat on my 10-speed Cannondale R1000 was one of those moments.

I had a bike fit in the now sadly defunct Pewsey Velo shop and as I leant on the drop handlebars wondering why cyclists put up with such an odd position, I felt a hint of adrenaline, of intrigue, a tingling sensation in my belly.

The shop owner, Nick Gordon, dibble dabbled around me, tinkering here and there, explaining to me what I needed to change and what he thought might suit me.

I pedalled away as he aligned this and that, explained how the gear shifters worked, and I was beaming. I couldn’t quite believe this marvellous machine was all mine.

My Cannondale R1000 build

Handmade in the USA and with a beautiful aluminium frame, my Cannondale R1000 has a mostly Shimano Ultegra groupset.

A Deda Zero 100 stem and handlebar make up the cockpit, a combo which I think looks cracking whilst a Truvativ Rouleur Carbon crankset, Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels and Goodyear Eagle Sport clinchers complete the look.

And of course, what battered saddle can you spy?

Whilst in the Pewsey Velo shop, Nick picked up a second-hand Selle Italia Diva saddle and told me I would probably like it.

With zero knowledge of the cycling world, of the long history of women struggling with saddle sores, I just shrugged and said I would go with his thoughts.

It would only be later in my cycling life that I would realise this was a phenomenal choice.

Before long, Nick had turned the Cannondale into something ridable, and something I could really play with.

And oh, have we played.

Slight digression

Back in London, I was now really racing commuters, and frankly the men in Lycra had nothing on me and my jeans-tucked-into-socks look. My Cannondale roared and so did I.

However I had soon had enough of that job and I headed off around the world in search of something better.

I traipsed around the corners of Morocco on foot and by bus, explored the crevasses of Kazakhstan, the weird and wackiness of the West coast of the US but a familiar thought often came wavering back to me: wouldn’t everything be so much easier if I just had my bike?

The making of a cyclist

I came back and realised I wanted to see where my bike could take me.

First things first though, I wanted to clip in and become a ‘real’ road cyclist.

The first day I tried out the 'clip in' side of my Shimano PD-EH500 pedals (double sided wonders, not pictured because I upgraded to fit in), I rode around my parents’ garden wobbling like a bowl of hyperactive jelly over mole hills.

It was a three-part saga. Brake, panic, fall.

Luckily, there isn’t much a few YouTube videos can’t fix, and soon I had figured it out and was feeling like a fully-fledged road cyclist. I had the shoes, the shorts, even a jersey.

And let’s not forget the dodgy helmet from Sports Direct.

So dressed to impress, I set off on a 700km solo cycling trip around the Southeast of England.

For context, before this I had only ever cycled a maximum of 40km in one go, mainly because I didn’t really know anything about cycling and because most my friends lived that far away.

To say heading off on this big trip was daunting, is a small understatement, but to say I was naïve is a tenfold understatement.

To add to the adventure, I had never tried cycling with bags on my bike until I set off. Oh my, was I in for some fun.

Pedal, pedal

I rode from the delights of my hometown West Woodhay, (it’s closer to a hamlet but that’s what people say right?), to Burley in the New Forest, a place I later discovered was renowned for witches.

I wiggled my way through peaceful country lanes and admired the beauty of the New Forest, it was glorious.

Next up I rode to Bognor Regis, and had a not so delightful near-death experience on a roundabout near Chichester where I failed quite spectacularly to clip in.

Nothing like beeping car horns to inflict some panic.

Soon enough, I was heading to Eastbourne, and then to Folkestone via Dungeness, the latter a place I am never visiting again.

From there I looped back through a little village called Brightling near Tunbridge Wells, then to Guildford, and finally back to my home hamlet.

I rode for between five and six hours a day on that Selle Italia saddle and suffered not a single saddle sore.

I was laden with everything I needed, which was a pair of trackies I stole off my sister and a not very waterproof jacket from the delights of Sports Direct.

I didn't have a bike computer, I doubt I knew they existed. I had my ancient iPhone secured in an Argos-special phone holder frame bag, and yes, that is a puppy collar attached to the large waterbottle to stop it from shaking. 

It was me, my bike and I. And a lot of jam sandwiches.

Some days were 80km, others over 100km, some were total agony, others flew by, but all I know is that it was the best adventure of my life.

And what kind of adventure doesn’t include a few mishaps…

Somehow, I bent my rear derailleur hanger on day two. My 10-speed became a 7-speed, and the hills turned into mountains.

There was the agonising pain in both knees on day three as clearly I hadn't set my cleats up properly. Out with the clippy shoes, in with the trainers, onwards with the challenge. 

Another day I forgot to eat. I realised 80km in that I was pretty much going backwards, and I was in a terrible mood.

I stopped at a chippy on the side of the road just before the whopping climbs into Eastbourne and desperately shovelled chips into my mouth as quickly as I could. Thankfully I don’t have a picture of that.

Instead I have the memories of making it to the top of Eastbourne.

After having navigated the incredibly busy and stressful A259, whose unrelenting steepness was severely unwelcome, I tried to cry with happiness. I was so dehydrated no tears came.

All in all, this trip was when I realised just how great cycling is. And how much food and water a bedraggled cyclist needs.

And most importantly, I had my trusty Cannondale, which despite the wonky rear derailleur, performed like an absolute champion.

Would I change a thing?

One day I might replace the bar tape. But that day is far, far in the future. Only when the tape starts to peel and wither like a forgotten satsuma at Christmas time. 

A new wheelset wouldn’t go amiss as the rear rim is slightly buckled and in a dream world I would upgrade it to a 12-speed and actually enjoy climbing. 

But for now, it's just perfect.  

My Cannondale R1000 is a marvellous bike

In a world of swanky, shiny (and clean) bikes, my Cannondale is still the one for me.

It is my favourite thing in the whole world, having shown me what can be achieved with a slither of perseverance, a ton of naivety and an enormous dollop of madness.

When I ride my Cannondale, it’s me and my bike exploring the world, and nothing else matters.

I can do anything on my Cannondale.

Emma’s Cannondale R100 spec

  • Frame: Cannondale aluminium
  • Fork: Cannondale premium
  • Groupset: Shimano Ultegra 6600 10-speed
  • Wheels: Mavic Ksyrium Elite
  • Tyres: Goodyear Eagle Sport clinchers
  • Cockpit: Deda Zero 100 stem and handlebar
  • Seatpost: Full Speed Ahead
  • Saddle: Selle Italia Diva
  • Pedals: Shimano Ultegra

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