When I first started cycling more than just casually, it took me a longer time than I would care to admit to fully appreciate my bike. Even when I began riding three or four times a week the bike mostly rested against the wall in the shed space and only got cleaned once it was truly filthy. It shames me to admit that <gulp> rust began to appear on the chain.
But you live and you learn. And after I began to get more serious about cycling and bought my first carbon bike I by necessity also acquired a serious collection of tools, clothes, lubricants and pastes all intended to keep that beautiful machine alive and performing in peak condition. I am constantly checking them over, cleaning them, making tiny adjustments and can tell you more about their composition and set up than probably anything else in my life.
They are the other wives. But they are both incredibly different.
High modulus = High expectations
The first time I rode my Ridley Helium, I was blown away at how agile it felt. How light and responsive it was and how I felt like I was a better rider because of it. The bike was a big step up from my Specialized Secteur both in terms of materials, geometry and overall specification and I felt like I had to live up to the bike. If i was going to own a high specification machine I needed to act like it.
Having owned it for three years, I can safely say that that mindset, that feeling of living up to the bike has only changed me for the better. I was probably a shade over 16st (a little over 101kg in metric) and having that feeling made me began to train properly, consider my diet and not half ass my approach to getting into shape. That bike took me from short local rides, to my first century ride and through the Marmotte and riding up 2000m climbs for fun.
I definitely have a debt of gratitude to my brother in law for all the advise at the start and then Sam and Lucas down at Urban Cyclerly (RIP 🙁 – The shop, not the brothers!) for the encouragement and advice again! Buying that bike changed me for the better.
BUT….it’s not without it’s drawbacks.
I can’t take that bike out for a casual ride. It’s not a pub ride bike. It’s above that type of behaviour. Having bought a power meter I get drawn into watching numbers even when rolling along to meet friends ahead of the ride really starting.
I feel an obligation to this bike to use it solely for what it is intended to do. Go as fast as I can from point A to point B whilst maintaining form and power.
The same can’t be said for my other bike…..
Alright, alright, alright….
If my Ridley is the straight laced, rigid, metrics driven member of the stable then my steel bike from Brother Cycles is the camper van dwelling, special brownie eating, beach bum. It is my Matthew-McConaughey-a-la-Dazed-and-Confused bike.
When I get this bike out it makes me smile. I’m not thinking about sitting at power, I’m not thinking about how stiff and responsive it is (it really isn’t compared to the Ridley).
It’s heavy. It’s comfortable. It’s bright. It makes me smile.
Everytime I jump on this bike whether it’s to commute to work, perform a flawless beer run or get in some longer rides, it makes me smile. That’s not to say that my Ridley doesn’t, but this is a different kind of fun. It reminds of how much fun I had riding my bikes as a kid where having a bike gave you your first taste of freedom and exploration. It’s not a performance machine in the way my Ridley is, but I know it will perform in its own way.
It’ll be the bike to take my around Scotland in the inaugural TransAlba Race next July. I think every bike can take you on adventure and this one is going to take me on my biggest one yet. It won’t stay as pristine as I’ve tried to keep my Ridley, but that won’t be through neglect rather it will be through it living up to it’s intended use as an adventure bike.
Same at the Ridley, it has its downsides! It’s heavy. When you are used to riding a carbon bike the switch to steel and the added weight is very noticable. Whilst it’s a great bike to roll around on my approach to it will change in coming months as it starts getting fine turned for the Trans Alba where I’ll be riding the bike for maybe 18 hours or more each day so there will be an element on performance forced upon it….slick tyres, speed/cadence sensor (I need SOME data) etc.
In a sense, I think they bot complement each other. The Ridley makes me work hard so I can enjoy the Brother Cycles ride. They will certainly both have their role to play in the year ahead and I wouldn’t be able to accomplish the goals I have without them both. Both have enhanced my life greatly and I am truly grateful.
n+1 will always be a factor in any relationship and just because you are on a diet it doesn’t mean you can’t look at the menu and my family of bikes might grow again in the future.
Trek Madone ??