January 9, 2006

New Bike

Back in October or something my bike was stolen. This was gutting because

  1. Some fucker took what was mine
  2. I'd had the bike for over a decade
  3. I'd put new tyres and pedals on it
  4. All my very expensive bike tools were attached to it
  5. Now I'd have to buy it all again.

Well, thanks to my brother, I didn't have to buy the bike. For my Christmas and birthday present, he gave me his old road bike, albeit with unravelling bar tape, slashed tyres and a chain that looked like it was composting. Whatever the state of it, underneath it all it's a snappy bike. There's almost no rake to the forks so it's an exciting ride: no sooner than you've thought about turning the bike is leaning over and threatening to spill you all over the road. And that is, in fact, what it did on my first day riding it.

There's something else I should say about this bike: it's got no gears. Well, it's got one gear, which is fixed. This is to say there's no freewheel, which means you can't ever stop pedalling if you want to keep going forwards. You can't freewheel around a corner, up to a stop street, or in a bunny hop to avoid a pothole. No, you've just got to keep your legs going, and if you relax, the pedals don't stop spinning - they give you a nasty bump! This is the classic way that cyclists train during the winter; no gears means less expensive and delicate machinery for the rain and grit on the roads to foul up, and the fact that you have to push down on the same ratio all the time means that you get really strong climbing hills (when you'd usually drop down to a lower gear) and really supple descending them (when you have to spin your legs like crazy to go quickly) - it's a different cycling experience entirely.

So this last wet morning, on my first proper outing, a cut a fast corner the way I usually do and the bike and I leaned nicely. I spotted a double manhole and stopped spinning my legs in order to coast around it. Of course the bike wouldn't let me stop spinning and gave my leg a bump. By the time I had gotten control I was headed straight for the metal plate, and as I hit it leaning over the bike slid right out and I ate tarmac for breakfast. Apart from a graze, a bruide and my nice jeans all scuffed there was no problem, but it was sobering nonetheless. The adrenaline from the fall gave me superb acceleration when I got back on though!

At lunch I went to the cycle shop and bought new tyres, pedals, lights and a can of GT-85 for a cool £110. After everyone had gone home I put a copy of Metro under the bike and around the rear rims and gave the chain a power shower. With the new pedals fitted and the drivetrain clean the bike was even more exciting: I had total confidence in the grip of the pedals and it felt seriously smooth. There's a lot to learn but I'm enjoying it already.

Posted by Oxygenik at January 9, 2006 10:31 PM