When I took out my endowment policy the nice, shiny-shoed man promised a rosy future. A quarter of a century later my mortgage would be paid off with enough left over to buy a boat. I don't know why either he or I thought that a boat was a good idea in the landlocked Midlands but I admit that I was so much of a sucker that I went along to the local sailing club and took lessons.
So now I've reached the age that seemed unimaginable when I bought my flat. I've moved home several times and long-since lost the mortgage but I kept the endowment policy out of some kind of misguided nostalgia. At the beginning of June, my endowment policy matures. It will come as no surprise that it wouldn't have paid-off my mortgage. The yacht will have to wait a while.
It will, though, allow me to buy a new bike. But which one? How on earth are you supposed to choose? I've narrowed it down to three models. I've been into bike shops and asked online. In every case, the answer seems to be that the perfect bike for me is the one they happen to sell.
Can anyone, please, help me?
These are the three bikes in my shortlist:
The Felt ZW5
This has the biggest gear range as far as I can judge. Perhaps better for getting me up the two big hills on the Ride London 100 course?
The Colnago CLD Ultegra Women's http://www.evanscycles.com/products/colnago/cld-ultegra-2013-womens-road-bike-ec045763
This includes the word 'Ultegra'. I know that this is a good thing.
Finally, The Bianchi Intenso Dama Bianca 105 Compact http://www.evanscycles.com/products/bianchi/intenso-dama-bianca-105-compact-2014-womens-road-bike-ec059365
This is beautiful and described as a very comfortable bike for my kind of riding.
By the time I buy my new bike I will, in effect, have been saving-up for it for 25 years. That knowledge makes it even harder to decide. I've got a responsibility to my younger, naïve self, to get some benefit from a bad investment.
So, I am short. Only 5ft 4 ins. I struggle a lot on hills. I am desperately trying to find anything that might help me get up to the 11.7mph average speed required for the Ride London 100. Also, I seem to have a weirdly short handspan. Not being a pianist, this isn't something that I'd ever noticed but on my current bike, I can't use the brakes on the hoods. I had to have a pull-up pair added to enable me to stop.
Which is another thing. The shop I quizzed said that it would be impossible to add these kind of brakes to any of the above bikes. Is that really true?