Monday, 30 August 2010


I've been trying to remember when I bought my first mountain bike, my beloved GT Tequesta, and I think it was 1992. I loved this bike. I still love this bike.

I bought it from Graeme Obree, when he ran a small bike shop in Prestwick. When I trashed the back wheel, Graeme built an absolutely bomb-proof one for me. In case you don't know, Graeme is a legend in cycling; read his story, and watch the film The Flying Scotsman.

The bike got abused, and maltreated, and always came back for more. I cycled straight into a parked car at 20 miles an hour and bent the forks right back into the frame. New forks (and a new helmet for me) and it was back skipping round my ankles like a happy puppy, desperate to be taken out again.

The very last time I rode it I took it to the beach. And rode it through the sea. All that poked out the water, like some steel framed nessie, were the saddle and handlebars. And then I put it away.

A dozen years later and it should be one big rusted lump. Gears, pedals, wheels, everything should be seized solid. But... the wheels spin freely, the pedals go round. And the gears shift seamlessly!

I love this bike. So have lavished a little tlc. New tyres, some shiny bolts, handlebar grips, pedals and a new saddle.

Isn't she lovely?

Friday, 27 August 2010

A proper cyclist

Sometimes I'm reminded that, even as a born-again evangelical cyclist, I'm really only playing at it.

For some people, like my former colleague Pauline, cycling is in their very soul. It is part of who they are in a way that almost nothing else is.

Take a little time to read about her current endeavour; she's currently in Spain as she cycles round the world. You know, as you do.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

My world of endorphins

I'm a geek. I'm turning (back?) into a bike geek right now, but I'm a lifelong geek in oh, so many ways. So, perhaps being back in the saddle is just another way for me to indulge my geeky nature?

My first real bike/gadget geek crossover is Endomondo. Endomondo works on GPS smart phones (like the iPhone I don't have, and the Nokia N97 I do) and tracks your efforts in a range of breathlessness-inducing activities.

It's in two parts: a downloadable (and free!) app for your phone, and a website to which, once you've registered (also free), you upload your info. Basically, the GPS unit on your phone tracks your location, distance travelled, speed, (as well as linking to your bluetooth heart rate monitor if you have one) and once the info is uploaded to the website you can see all kinds of cool stuff. Like how slow I am.

I like it. It ticks my boxes. See if it ticks yours.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Mid life crisis? What mid life crisis?

The Guardian newspaper's cycling blog says "Research suggests a boom in cycling among affluent 'mid-life crisis' men and car owners."

Umm... is that me? Maybe. Let me tell you a story. Are we sitting comfortably, boys and girls? Then I'll begin...

One of the reasons I'm back on my bike after all this time is that a friend of mine - let's call him 'Chris' - has made a similar return. Chris and I used to cycle together way back when, and when he called to say he was in a bike shop and could I check on the internet for reviews of the bikes he was looking at, I just knew I was going to get roped in to the energetic, out of breath part of cycling.

And, sure enough, a couple of days later I had to dust off my venerable, retired GT Tequesta and accompany Chris on a ride. It was tiring (I hadn't just given up exercising for a decade, my decadent lifestyle involved no exercise at all) but really, really fun. I was hooked. And more on the GT later.

This is where the evidence of a mid-life crisis might be said to exist... with Chris on new wheels I just had to upgrade. Enter, Focus Bikes' 2010 Black Forest Expert. Isn't she lovely?
Yes, this was quite a lot of money for me. It's a grand's worth of hardtail - that's a mountain bike with suspension at the front wheel, but not the back, fact fans - and although I got it in Wiggle's sale, it was still a lot... spending more than I perhaps needed to, on something that is perhaps a bit too flashy... mid life crisis?

No. And here's my justification. This bike is too good for me. It requires a level of skill, commitment and confidence I just don't have. Yet. It's an aspirational purchase - I aspire to be good enough to deserve to ride this bike.

And, by George, it is light!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

I used to ride... then I stopped... but now I'm better.

I'm cycling again. I was cycling before, now I'm cycling again.

Before to again took ten years. That's quite a leap, and this is where I'm going to tell you about my experience as it unfolds. If you, like me, are a lapsed cyclist, maybe you'll be encouraged to take it up again. If you're an active cyclist, maybe you'll look at your activity with new eyes, just as I'm doing. If you've never cycled, maybe you'll think about giving it a try.

If you're a golfist, you're in the wrong place.

I'm going to talk about how much my legs hurt, and how much my bum hurts. And how quickly these bits of me stop hurting. I'm going to talk about the places I ride, and the things I buy.

This is a geeky blog about bikes, and riding, and the cycling culture. Welcome!