Jane’s rolling Scottish accent and thundering laughter tends to enter the room before she does and she has the rare talent for the deadly serious while taking the proverbial out of it at the same time. It’s an attitude that lends itself perfectly to the ultra-distance riding she’s been doing for the last few years. Paris Brest Paris? I loved it. I relished every minute of it. But yeah it was brutal.
‘Matthew, I’d like to speak to you about something’ was the message we received from Jane back in November 2017. She’d been hit by a car in East London while commuting to work and was on bedrest in hospital, making plans.
At 45, Jane Dennyson is among the many riders who’ve realised that as they get older, their assuredness and mental state gets stronger, a perfect match for endurance racing, and she needed a bike to match. Jane had been racing and touring for several years and knew what she wanted from a bike: comfort and stability, a bike that steers itself after a long ride. Is that too much to ask?
With multiple pins in her legs, she needed something to look forward to.
During PBP, when you get to the checkpoints, all the local cycling geeks in town hang out by the bike racks while you get your brevet stamped. There were crowds of people looking at the bike, drooling… “what’s the groupset? How do you find Sram? Which dynamo hub are you running?…” these older Frenchmen were hanging about by my bike just looking really chuffed that they’d seen it. They’d lean over the railings trying to get a look at some random little detail.
Her brief to us sounded futuristic, maybe impossible, but we would go on to create an extremely efficient frame that allows her to continually focus on power transfer and cadence; the bike would do the rest.
To achieve this, we needed a unique mix of materials and components: Columbus Spirit, HSS and Zona. The Sram Etap groupset also helped reduce fatigue as did fitting disc brakes for better handling when tired. It required the versatility to go offroad and carry a heavy load without losing stability. It would run dynamo hubs for lights and have internal routing for the rear brake through the down tube into the T47 bottom bracket and out through the chainstay keeping an elegant aesthetic.
With space for 32mm tyres, Jane was even able to ride the bike on the 300km Reiver’s Way, the coast to coast rocky boundary between England and Scotland.
The head tube was custom machined from a solid bar of 4130 carbon steel which took us almost as long as one of Jane’s endurance rides but in doing this we created a tapered unit with internal bearing cups, compatible with Columbus Futura Gravel forks and the correct rake for effortless steering. Recycling as many bits of material as possible, we machined the pinch bolt from a bit of steel we had lying around the workshop.
The paint needs something else…
The design was an ode to the landscapes Jane loves. The Elephant Grey was inspired by her many adventures in Africa whilst the other colours represent her Scottish heritage; gorse yellow and purple heather.
I know: It needs a splash of Irn Bru. Wouldn’t be truly Scottish without that flash of orange, would it?
Jane’s endurance events with her Saffron:
Transalba Race July 2019 – distance:1721km, ascent: 20,172m
Result: 2nd pair overall
Time taken: 6.5 days.
Paris Brest Paris August 2019 – distance 1200km approx, over 3.5 days
(Had to ride qualifiers 1 x 200km, 1 x 300km, 1 x 400km, 1 x 600km)
Coast to Coast Reiver’s Way November 2019
Rode from Newcastle to Whitehaven over 2 days, 50% road, 50% off-road over 2 days with a friend, Emma.
She didn’t bivvy (stayed in a B&B) as temps were sub or close to zero both days.