Saturday, March 20, 2010

Collections 12 - Bikes

A small selection

OK, so I guess this is one of the big ones.

But then I have always loved bikes. And my son was (is) a precociously talented cyclist, so I have an excuse.  There are also five us of us in this family, which would help if the others rode, but they don't - in fact Jane and Dan are two of the worst bike riders I've ever known. Dylan, on the other hand, is five and already has two bikes...

All of which sort of explains why we have sixteen. Actually, that is sixteen rideable bikes; if I put together all the spare bits and pieces that number could rise considerably.

You see, the thing about bikes is that they are more specific than you think. Take Mike for example: he has a lightweight road bike for racing, another for touring, a mountain bike, a BMX and two track bikes for the velodrome (one is for sale if you're interested - a bargain at £600). So that accounts for six and I've already mentioned that Dylan has two, so were up to eight. We also have a spare junior mountain bike (useful for friends) and tag-along trailer bike - so lets's call that ten.

As for me, I have my old faithful racing bike, and a super fast thing that I've never got on with, but which cost so much I might as well keep it. Oh, and my mountain bike, of course...  and, yes, my touring bike, but I've had that for years.  Then there's the single speed for town and the folding bike I keep at the cottage...

That's sixteen, and very reasonable in my view.  Especially when you consider I have a friend whose  shed is twice the size of mine and who lost count years ago. I also know a couple who last year told me their New Year resolution was to ride every bike they own by December - they failed!

I managed to ride all mine -  only just. That's because I've spent most of the last few years holding a stopwatch as Mike flashes past me at the velodrome. Watching your children compete must be one of the most vicarious of pleasures, but it isn't good for your health. I stopped riding, I got fat, and at times I almost passed out with the stress. I think I forgot that bikes are supposed to be fun.

Last year Mike told me he'd had enough of competition. It was sad in a way; he was so talented and could have done more - but I understand. As he said to me recently, 'There is more to life than bikes, Dad; and more to bikes than racing.' Wise words for a fourteen year old.

And perhaps that's why they came to mind last Friday.

It wasn't the best of mornings, but I had nothing to keep me and the bike seemed a beter option than running on a dodgy calf. I suppose I did thirty miles, going nowhere in particular for a couple of hours, But that didn't matter. Because, as the muscles eased and the sun filtered through the grey dawn, I wondered why I didn't do this more often.

Bikes must be one of the best inventions of all time. They are simple, efficient, non polluting, healthy, affordable, ubiquitous. They widen your horizons in a manageable way, keeping you connected to the landscape, unlike cars and motorbikes.

As a child, it was my bike that gave me freedom. I'd ride into the fringes of Northumberland and go camping or picnic by the beach, and maybe visit my wonderful grandparents. I'd arrive home shattered; but shattered in a good way, the sort of fatigue that you sense will make you stronger. It still feels much the same.

Tomorrow I 'm going out with my cycle club. I haven't been for a few years but I'll stick with slower guys, stop when necessary; no doubt we'll go to the caff. I'm sure the legs will be fine.

The only question is... which bike should I take?


PS  And here is how to do it properly

If you have talent... shows in the end.
National Omnium Series 2007


  1. I sort of gasped when I saw that you had 16 bikes, but maybe because I have never been a bike rider. I can almost picture you falling of your chair in astonishment. I was the adored only child of older than average parents and they were very over-protective. I didn't roller or ice skate or do anything really that might have caused injury.

    When I was about 18 a friend of mine decided to teach me but my balance was dreadful and as we freewheeled down a hill (with me sitting on her crossbar) we both fell off and scraped ourselves very badly.That's it I thought - I'm never doing this again.

    Flash forward to about 30 years later. Living by so many canal paths it seemed a shame to just stick to walking. Mr FF rides his bike and I wanted to ride as well - but not a bike (traumatised by the fall all those years before). I ordered a trike online from the UK and since it arrived I have not looked back. Having said that, it has been out of action needing a slight repair for a while now but, as soon as Mr FF returns from Paris, it is near the top of the todo.

  2. I've not been on a bike for years! I used to love cycling (living in a small village in the middle of nowhere with no bus service will do that to you!!) and would regularly phone my friend who lived about 6 miles away and we would leave at the same time and meet in the middle.

    Chris and I are thinking about buying bikes so that we can cycle round here...seems a waste having all that beautiful countryside and just driving through it!!

    C x

    Ps. 16 bikes!!

  3. I adore cycling - always have always will. I can completely relate to your love of cycling.

    However, I just have the one trusty bike! Makes me feel like a lightweight. When I had one of my bikes stolen a while ago, it became apparent that few people deal in the secondhand bike business - so a I bought a fantastic new one for such a reasonable price I thought the world has gone crazy. The chap in the shop said, 'new bikes are so cheap, there's not a lot to be made with secondhand ones, so those trades appear to be disappearing.' This seems very much a symptom of the whole throw-away world we live in...

    My feller is always fishing bikes out of skips and fixing them and giving them away. His little pert in counteracting the TA culture.

  4. Well, so much for my bike ride today. I made it to the meeting place and promptly fell off - first time in twenty years! So after a trip to casualty I am nursing a cracked rib and a VERY sore chest.

    Molly - Bikes are one of the few things that have become substantially cheaper over recent years - mainly because they are manufactured in China.

    FF - A trike! How cool is that. I have always fancied a trike but never had one; except when I was five and it had a metal box on the back we used to fill with leaves. I have had lots of tandems though and only sold my last one a year ago - I've had about five in all.

    Carol - Yes, you live in a good spot for cycling. Nice ride from your place to Cirencester. Or out to Sherston and the Arboretum.

  5. Ouch! I hope you heal quickly. Try not to laugh

  6. Way to go! I only own one single solitary bike but I love it. I love the sense of freedom it gives me but also the sense of achievement when I go out on a long ride. There's something about getting somewhere under your own steam. And with a bike you can still hear the world around you or stop and stare...

  7. I love riding my bike. As with you, it was my freedom when young. I still have that bike, an old 5-speed racer bought for 5 quid at a police auction. It has had a new everything except the frame, I think, over the years.

    just recently (a couple of years ago) I bought fancy new road bike, one that I can explore the countryside in. But the garden has taken too much of my time and I have barely used it. But I have ridden it enough to know that I get on with it, and that it's better than my old one. I will ride it when I can.

    In the years after uni, I didn't ride at all, so when I began again it was in order to get fit. This was a mistake. Getting fit had always been a by-product of exploring the countryside by bike. When I stopped going out to get fit, and started going out to explore the countryside again, I got a lot fitter.

  8. Commiserations on the cracked much discomfort from something that looks like nothing on the x ray sheet.
    Just try not to breath!

    I can't ride a bike...I put it down to balance problems after a middle ear infection as a child..but it means I don't get seasick either!

    Riding was always my pleasure - the horse saw to the balancing bit for me - and I would dearly love to start again, but I don't want to be confined to bridle paths so this clearly isn't the area for a canter across the moors!

    I'll have to move.

    Oh. My word verification was 'wingless' - so clearly I'm not getting Pegasus as the answer to my problems.