The bike will take you amazing places if you follow it.
Surrey, south of London, on a sunny spring Thursday. Up the stairs to the third floor, beyond the keycard locked door, into a room at the back of the building where the light streams in through tall windows. There sat one bike, an old Battaglin, in a simple rear-wheel stand.
“Do you know whose bike that is?” my host asked. “Have a look.”
It was the bike Stephen Roche won the Tour de France on in 1987, his name hand-painted on the top tube. It had been stuck in storage for years before its owner asked someone in the shop I stood in to restore it.
How am I here? How did I arrive? Other, of course, than the overland train from Vauxhall.
A few days later I stood in Newtown, mid-Wales, where Barry Hoban, once the most successful British stage racer, built his own frames at the Coventry Eagle factory. From there the train to Yorkshire, the site of this year’s Grand Depart, Hoban’s home. I was not meeting the legend. I was only stalking about in his deep footsteps, following the bike.
Back in London the sky is gray with rain and the crowds thinned as I ventured up out of the Covent Garden underground, 193 steps from platform to surface, and found the back alley called Macklin Street, where the men who fit the Trek Factory Racing team ply their trade. We sat in a nearby cafe drinking flat whites and talked about setting up Fabian Cancellara’s bike.
Clocks dripped from trees. Fur covered fish swam by. This, all of this, my friends, was surreal.
I live a charmed life, even if I seldom recognize it. I won’t turn the pedals in anger even once this week, and yet the bike is everywhere as I follow on foot and by train. I am continually amazed by where it takes me.
This week’s Group Ride asks where is the most amazing place the bike has taken you? Up the Ventoux? Across Iowa? Someplace anonymous but magical? Were you riding or racing or just watching a race? Did you expect to get there or did it surprise you? Were you alone or with friends?