I went to Amsterdam in 1999, I think it was, and remember the rush hour parade of big long high black bikes with straight backed riders. I didn’t quite know what I was seeing, and theorized the Dutch were overly attached to some national tradition. My own life in cycling started with a Kuwohara mountain bike bought second hand in 1991—that’s not counting the bikes I had as a kid. As my only means of transport, the Kuwohara got slicker and thinner tires, until finally I traded it for a second hand 531 racing bike that set me on the path to club racing. I trained and raced myself up through the grades, fantasized of, then thought better of, training yet harder to go pro, before settling into a pattern of commuting and racing while pursuing a career more behooving for someone with my awesome IQ.
Now something that started as a consequence of having no money when I was a student, I find at age 42, has endowed me with a strength and resilience to be unconcerned by hills, headwinds, the elements or the rolling speed of my bike. It dawned on me when commuting on the Raleigh a few weeks back, that for most of the journey I don’t care that it is much slower than a road bike. I actually enjoyed the fact that my 30K round trip commute was draining me as much as a 40K training ride. What I most liked was that at knock-off time, I wasn’t facing an abrupt transition from a physically relaxed state sitting there in my office clothes, to a hunched over lycra clad state competing with cars, but was rather sitting up pedaling along footpaths.
The beauty of these upright bikes that are about to get more hip than fixies I know it, is they do not take you away from your daydreams. The steel frame and relaxed forks really do dispense with the bumps. The lights just light up, with no batteries. You sit up, as I’m sitting up now. I’ve put clipless pedals on the Velorbis, so I can get up a smooth cadence on the long stretches between here and the office.
I’ve done maybe 40 or 50k today—a commute plus a ride with the Hon Hamish to take these photos tonight. I’m not sure if that equates to an average day training, but the familiar tightness in my legs as I walk upstairs to my bedroom suggests it’s been as good as most.