In early December, a group of our Support and Store Heroes went on a wintry training adventure with our Sonder and Alpkit Product Design Teams.
Day one was all about the bikes with Sonder Product Manager, Neil, and Sonder Technician, Liam. To kick off the proceedings, Ambleside Store Hero, Eric, talks us through the morning session:
I’m not sure what the collective noun for Caminos is, but we needed one for our staff training session. Perhaps a cavalcade. Or a convocation. Both would be fitting, considering their more common uses. Whatever, there were six Caminos in various guises, and a guest appearance from a Frontier. I was riding a Camino Ti Force 1 using 700x40 tyres, although between us we had most options covered. I have to admit that I was a little sceptical that they would cope with the demands of gravel tracks and rocky bridleways, but everyone else seemed confident, so we set off on a pleasant December morning.
The plan was to ride on the road for a few miles then link together a few tracks until we reached Ladybower Reservoir. There we would ride on gravel tracks around the twin horns of the lake until we eventually returned to the road we had started on. Leaving Hathersage, I used the initial road section to get used to the gear shifter which, once it had been explained to me, was easy to use, providing smooth, quick shifts for the rest of the ride.
Our initial off-road section was on relatively flat tracks and I was surprised with how the Camino handled the terrain. The bike seemed to like the mud and bumps and, as a result, so did I, until we got to our first hill! Personally, I would have liked a second, smaller chain ring to allow for easier pedalling on the hills, but that’s a reflection on my fitness levels, not the capabilities of the Camino. (Neil says a better option would be a smaller single ring setup - a standard 2x drivetrain doesn’t give as easy a gear as the standard 1x setup we use on the Camino).The tyres provided enough cushioning to help smooth out the bumps and my scepticism began to wear away; this is a great bike to ride. There was one small section of steeper, more technical descending and the bikes all took them easily in their stride; some of the group took this at quite a pace and it was impressive to see how well they and the Caminos performed.
After a few more miles, we reached the road again and while everyone else was crossing it to go up and over the long, steep hill ahead, I chose to stay with the flatter road and meet them further along the route. The Camino handled the transition from track to road effortlessly and I had a wonderfully smooth, speedy ride on the (thankfully) quiet main road before a few more miles on a minor road to the meeting place. Ten minutes later the rest of the group arrived, speeding happily down the fire road from the top of the hill. Big smiles all round. A combination of more bridleway alongside the reservoir and a cycle path most of the way back into Hathersage made for an easy finish to the ride.