I’d pencilled in a visit to Mason HQ, for a routine bike check up and catch up and Cal had mentioned going on a local ride together. This sounded harmless enough, until next thing I know we’re attempting the SD300. Local in theory - never further than x miles from where the ride starts in Worthing, however the route is a meandering and challenging 300km rollercoaster taking in what may well be every trail, track and hill in the southdowns.


I was offered up the ISO for the ride, Cal saying ‘you could do it on your bokeh, but the iso would be more fun.’ truer words were never spoken. My bokeh has been pretty much good enough for all that I’ve thrown at it, its versatility knowing virtually no bounds. So I felt a tad guilty stripping all I needed off my bike to attach it to the ISO instead on the friday night before we set off.


I get a bit edgey riding bikes other than my bokeh. I don’t feel as at home having ridden nearly 25,000km on it in the past couple of years. So on the odd occasion I ride other bikes in between - they tend to feel a bit… weird. Not the ISO though, which feels like a very familiar relative - a bigger, bolder more bullish/braver version but with the same spirit. These differences were most pronounced on the many varied descents of the sd300; hooning it through open trackless fields, bombing down arrow straight single track, or swooping along weaving woodland single track, ducking and diving (more often than not getting smacked in the face by) overgrown nettles and brambles more than my shredded limbs would have liked. I imagine the difference between the two bikes would be best appreciated through my facial expressions while descending. Where on the bokeh I might have a look of wide eyed concentration, sharply inhaling at near misses, hanging on at the edge of control… on the ISO I'd let the brakes go, bombing along letting the bike absorb virtually anything while retaining just enough control to keep things exciting. We'd be forced to halt at the next gate where Cal and I would look at each with knowing grins, buzzing.


I’ve been riding terrain like this a lot in the past year - from the Cape wrath (walking) trail to the high mountains of kyrgyzstan to the very varied terrain of gbduro. While all manageable, the riding wasn't always as fun and effortless as it felt on the ISO, where I could fly and float along the trails with a relaxed ease. The bike felt familiar in so many ways, but it gave me a novel level of confident control making me feel like a more competent and relaxed bike handler. In short - amazing.