In my last blog, on tubeless tyres for road bikes, I alluded to some cross-code dalliance.
This, as ever, set my thoughts at a tangent. I began my cycling ‘career’ on a donated Holdsworth 531 sports bike (as they were known then) as a means of escape from teenage monotony and village life. This led swiftly to membership of the local road club. Time trials and such seemed a bit stodgy to me, so cyclo-cross became a staple: an hour in hell to prove that, yes, indeed, I am an average bike racer.
The faithful Holdsworth was soon planted into the rear of a parked car and taken on a final voyage to the scrap yard: an episode that brings a tear to the eye 25 years later (what a machine that was!). It’s replacement? One of these new fangled mountain bikes, able to go anywhere and perhaps better suited to my, “Oh dear, I appear to have broken that” riding style. Bikes of various colours and creeds have followed, but I have increasingly found it difficult to define myself by any title narrower than “cyclist”.
So where do these meanderings lead? I have worked in the bike industry ever since and have had the pleasure of riding some of the best and worst machines available. If there’s a single thread that unites these experiences, it’s one mentioned in my last blog: if it’s human powered and has wheels, there must be pleasure to be wrung from it. The Experiments In Speed video recording Tom Donhou’s latest project provides a forcible (and highly enjoyable) reminder of the veracity of this theory.
Why then the need – a powerful one if the cycle industry is to be judged on its marketing – to put everything in a niche? The myriad of bikes needed to fulfil the advertiser’s dream would surely make a head mechanic weep. So this week’s blog is to remind myself as much as you guys that all we need to remember is the simple pleasure of riding a bike, be it a road, ‘cross or, dare I utter it, a mountain bike. I try to focus my thoughts on the freedom offered by one of man’s greatest inventions. If you can spread a bit of this enthusiasm to a non-cyclist, perhaps even achieve a fabled “conversion”, you will have done a fine thing.