17th July 2019

Ride to the sun on: a review of the Giant Defy Advanced Pro 1

Riding from the sun and back

After Ride to the Sun: Giant Defy Advanced Pro 1 2019 Road Bike

A happy Alex after Ride to the Sun.

Coop member Alex recently completed Ride to the Sun, a cross border 100 mile event from Carlisle to Cramond through the night. Fancy it? This bike, along with many others, is available to demo for one or two days. Take a look at Alex’s report:

“Wow!”… That’s how it feels like when you lift up a carbon bike for the first time.

Picture this: I own only one bike, and it is a Genesis Croix de Fer 20 with Schwalbe Marathon tyres. I know, it sounds heavy. It is heavy. Don’t get me wrong: I am very happy with it and has been carrying me faithfully on multi-days trips and on my daily commute since day 1. But the weight element isn’t really noticeable until you get something lighter.

Alex's demo bike: Giant Defy Advanced Pro 1 2019 Road Bike

Alex’s demo bike: Giant Defy Advanced Pro 1 2019 Road Bike

I was planning on doing the Ride to the Sun using my one and only, but I asked the Bike Coop if I could try one of their demo bikes instead, and that’s how I ended up with a Giant Defy Advanced Pro 1 2019 Road Bike (just another term for an all-carbon bike!).

How the Giant Defy performed on the Ride to the Sun:

The Croix de Fer and the Giant Defy don’t belong to the same league, so the differences are dead obvious. On the Giant, apart from the weight difference:

  • The gear shifting is really smooth. Ultegra quality I guess.
  • The top part of the handlebar is flattened and provides an extended rest area for the hands. Very welcome on long distance rides.
  • The hydraulic disc brakes are powerful!

In terms of comfort on the road, I noticed no difference with the Croix de Fer. And at the end of the ride, no pains and aches in the neck, back and legs. Only a sore backside, but that was expected anyway.

Now, on the downside (yes, there is one!), having two rings at the front feels like a downgrade. I am used to a single ring now and I wasn’t missing the sound of the chain rubbing against the front mech. My opinion.

To give extra credit to the Giant, I rode down to Carlisle and back. 300kms in one day is a decent test ride. Hence the title of the article. The Ride to the Sun starts in Carlisle, but given I live in Edinburgh, I need to get there first…

In terms of mechanical, I only had a puncture. But what a puncture! A pointy screw perforated the back tyre in two places. It was a tubeless tyre. I managed to get one of the holes resealed, but I didn’t have much sealant left for the second one. Glad I took that extra tube with me.

[For more info on the Giant Defy Advanced Pro 1 2019, read Dave’s review here – editor]

How is the Ride to the Sun as an event:

Alex's demo bike above Moffat: Giant Defy Advanced Pro 1 2019 Road Bike

On top of the Devil’s Beef Tub, above Moffat.

Now, on the ride itself, I highly recommend everyone to take part in it. Every year, there is an estimated 1,000+ cyclists doing it. It’s not a race, it’s a social event. There’s no start time, no finish line to cross, no cut-off time, no medal, no t-shirt, etc. Just a friendly event, or a challenge, depending on your goal.

The chippy in Moffat is one of the highlights of the night, just like the long and steady uphill that awaits you right after Moffat, just like the pipers who greet you at the top of the climb, just like the 15kms downhill that awaits you after the pipers all the way down to Crook Inn, just like the rave party in Crook Inn that we missed by 10 minutes (because of the punctures!), just like the people checking up on you as they see you stopping, just like the setting and the rising suns, just like the welcome party in Cramond that we didn’t see because my backside had had enough of this, etc. It’s “easy” enough to be accessible to the greater number. There’s no sharp hill, the road is gently undulated.

Honestly, just do it! It was magical.

[Next year’s ride is on Saturday 20 June 2020 and registrations are open! – editor]

Some Pointers for anyone doing the Ride to the Sun:

Now, I need to give you a couple of tips if you’re thinking about doing the Ride to the Sun. It was magical, ok, BUT (and it’s a big one):

  • Bring some warm clothes because it will get COLD!

If the temperature in Carlisle reached a lovely 17 degrees in the afternoon, the midnight temperature in the Borders went down to about 5 degrees. As you stop in Moffat for a grub, the cold will get you and make you feel grateful for the extra layers and warm gloves you will have taken with you. I had 3 layers on my upper body, and could probably have done with a fourth one at times. I felt comfortable enough with my leg warmers. I saw some people in shorts in the middle of the night. Brrr!

  • Food! Don’t underestimate the need for it.

You should eat small and often (like 200 calories every 20-30 minutes). We prepared some wholemeal wraps filled with peanut butter, bananas, dried fruits and honey. Cut the wraps in 3 or 4 pieces, and there you have your half hourly bites. You’ll have a chance for a chippy in Moffat until about 12.30am. After Moffat, the next store is the petrol station in Hillend (~80 kms!). Nothing worse than craving for food in the middle of the cold night.

Final Thoughts

sunny day during a training ride in North Berwick

Sunny day during a training ride in North Berwick.

Finally, I cannot close off this article without saying a big thank you to the Coop for lending me the (super duper) bike, a big thank you to my pal Rémi for being the perfect teammate, a big thank you to the (awesome) gentleman in Penicuik for the (nice) coffee and croissants, as well as the (very handy) electric pump to re-inflate my tyre, a big thank you for all the help received in Carlisle to fix my teammate’s bike, a big thank you to the (super) weather for having been so nice with us.


Road Bikes ideal for Sportive events

For more of a taster about the Ride to the Sun, this video is worth a watch:


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