Let’s begin by casting our minds back to last year. Sounds like a long time eh? Hmm. Specifically December 2012. More Specifically December 30th 2012 where words* rationalising and advocating the current bike collection were met by three things. By you; amusement and disbelief. By Carol; eyebrow raising good nature and by me; nods of approval and a warm feeling of a job well done.
It seems appropriate – if mildly uncomfortable – to use this very same medium barely a month later to recognise that my previously firm position on what constitutes the perfect shed of dreams may have softened a bit. It started with a tweet and ended, not much later, with a one word reply from the controller of all thing financial and final authority on what’s beyond taking the piss that went something very like this ‘LOL’.
It’s hard to know what cuts deeper. The fanboi’ism of an apparently slavish brand allegiance to a small bike company run out of an industrial unit somewhere up north**, or the indisputable fact that this latest pointless purchase is basically a mountain bike mutant. The endless piss taking of my friends isn’t even a consideration as this would only impact a man still in possession of even a shred of dignity.
There’s an arms race escalating in cycling – dreamt up by desperate marketing men, who care about market share and engineers who really should just know better. It’s either long travel this, electronic that, or carbon fandangling of the other to create ever thinner slices of a market that – even ten years ago – was pretty much fat or thin tyres.
But in some deep dark tea time of the soul, somehow we’ve allowed ourselves to become complicit in the acceptance of THREE wheel sizes. I’ll not bore you with the details, let’s just call then perfectly adequate, pointlessly large and somewhere desperate in the middle. I’ve always been a 26inch man which frankly is enough for most humans, but the 29inch solution/solution looking for a problem has insidiously been working itself into our psyche via glossy magazines and endless rainbow chasing newer is better.
They roll over stuff better. Oh yeah, right. They retain speed. Whatever, you can get arrested for that. They add three inches to a critical measurement that you shall be judged by. Hmm, okay there might be something in that. Honestly it’s bullshit wrapped in bad science presented in a steaming package labelled ‘this could be the one‘.
Except this misses the rather important point that the one is you. Spend a hundred quid getting some coaching, not thousands on something so achingly now, it really must be the future, today. I never worked out why people don’t get that this makes it the past, tomorrow, but what I really don’t get at all is that I bought one.
There’s no good reasons. There’s – as ever – many excuses. I tried one for five minutes and it felt quite nice really. I’ve owned / rented the ugly stick for a year now which in my bike rambling pantheon of try/buy/discard is a suitably epic epoch. I stupidly entered the HONC and didn’t have a bike for it***. I don’t have the stomach for it either, but that’s an entirely non bike related issue and has no place here.
I even tried to blame the new bike bought at the back end of last year. I can’t remember quite how that worked, but it was good to be able to blame something else for my fiscal recklessness. Only on the hedgehog, can we hold up a recently shiny new bicycle as the PROBLEM that only a further new bicycle can solve. It’s a talent of that there is no doubt.
Anyway it’s done now. Mostly. Funny sized forks and tyres are here. Wheels to follow. A rape and pillage of the ugly stick covers the majority of the remaining components so I’ve put the hammer on standby. Once Cy frees up his ex-demo frame, a plunge into the abyss of the novelty-niche is merely a few percussive strokes away.
I’m not normally troubled by feelings of guilt, but this does feel on the wilful side of profligate.
Originally this entry was bookmarked to extol the simple joys of winter riding and the beauty of a snow bound vista. Moreover, something about how sledging with the kids was a reminder of how fantastic doing stuff as a family can be. But that was a week ago, and – as we’ve seen – that’s a bloody long time on the hedgehog.
Tell you what, here are some pictures. They tell the story better than I can.
Until next time then, let me leave you with a useful tip: ‘when it comes to bikes, everybody lies‘ 😉
* okay, lies.
** run by a very nice man called Cy Turner who makes lovely bicycles and has seemingly infinite patience for my stupid requests.
*** Two things. I did, it’s called a cross bike. And that’s an argument generally pressed by the fairer sex when being presented with an invitation to a posh do. It’s a bit of a tragedy this is now my world as well.