Friday Group Ride #215

Friday Group Ride #215

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?

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19 comments

  1. Mike the Bike PT

    It has taken me out to the rolling hills of apple orchards, just as the sun is rising, casting an enormously long silhoeutte of myself as I roll along. I was left marveling at the beauty and amazing complexity of this creation.

  2. Cory Burns

    It takes me away, away from the stress, away from the small town mids around me. Lately the bike has been a bit of a savior of sorts, I leave the house somewhat of a wreck and come back clear(er) than I figured I would. Somedays there are no destinations but for some clarity and peace of mind.

  3. armybikerider

    The Bike has taken me to destinations all over the US, Europe and Asia at duty stations around the world while I’ve served in the Army.

    But more importantly, the bike has been the vehicle leading me to levels of self-awareness and understanding, self-confidence and inner peace and many other places in my head that only other cyclists can begin to understand.

    This weekend promised to be warm and sunny here in Northern Tennessee and the bike will take me over 100 miles through the training areas of FT Campbell KY.

  4. Ransom

    It’s funny, for all the things I’ve done rooted in bikes (attempting to move to Durango after high school, working in a bike shop, so many rides mundane or unusual), my brain went straight for my ride through the Gap of Dunloe from Killarney, Ireland. (flickr). Honestly, the riding itself wasn’t that good; I was on an ill-suited bike rented from the hostel, riding in jeans, and when I got there, I could barely take four pedal strokes before another stupidly beautiful scene had me off and readying the camera again. Of course, that last bit is also what made it so amazing and memorable…

  5. Pat O'Brien

    The Little Boquillas Ranch, the Empire Ranch, the Brown Canyon Ranch, Dog Town Lake Campground, the Granite Dells, a petroglyph site along old Route 66, riding with the pronghorn antelope on Ft. Huachuca, and with the elk in Alpine. We, my wife and I, were just riding our mountain bikes around Arizona. The deer and coyote that almost took us off our bikes were a bonus.

  6. Les.B.

    PV Drive West on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, one winter morning at dawn. And what I spied I thought was impossible to see any time anywhere from the west coast.

    I saw the sun RISING over the ocean.

  7. Mike Cress

    Cycling has brought me into a closer realtionship with my 29 year old son than I would have thought possible. The time we have spent on the road together will always be some of my most cherished memories. Just this week as we gave an all out effort on a favorite Strava climb, we encountered 3 horses, seemingly inspired by our efforts, who charged along side us we neared the summit. The spontaneity of the moment and the wonder in my son’s, “Awesome!” will stay with me forever.

  8. Southridge

    Where to start…. Over the years, the bike has taken me to a better, healthier mind and body. It has taken me to a closer relation ship with my adult children. It has taken me to the nooks and crannies of many towns that I have gone to for work, and leave with fond memories. It has taken me on so many memorable rides with friends or only my own thoughts. It has taken me to the ER (collarbone) through beautiful countryside, and some interesting cities. But perhaps the most exciting places are the ones I have not yet gone, such as the century ride my sons and I plan on, or the double century that I know I can do if I just get enough base miles in……..

  9. Bruce Mackey

    The Tour of Jordan. I was stationed at the US embassy from 1989-91 and decided to do a ride from the northern to southern borders with some friends. The first time we went down the center of the country, the second down the Jordan Valley. Both were wonderful, great riding, fellowship and fun. The Jordanians were great, incredibly friendly and supportive. Great Fun!

  10. SusanJane

    I was a freshman in Chico hundreds of miles from the only place I had ever lived — the true desert of California. Chico is beautiful. Trees! Green plants! A real creek that runs through town! Amazing place. Still love it. But. I was suffering in air so thick with pollen you could cut it with a knife, horizons were interrupted by buildings, and these weirdos that came from even weirder places. I needed out. So I got on my crap 10-speed bought with green stamps and picked a direction. I rode until the sky opened up, until there were horizons in the far distance, until the voices stopped… and I really started sneezing. Saved my life being out there every once and awhile.

  11. Adam

    Quite simply The Bike has taken me to freedom. Freedom from the daily routine of a motorised commute to work, freedom from all the stresses of daily life even freedom from myself.

  12. Tom in albany

    The bike has taken me to confident manhood while leaving with me enough of the little boy that it’s ALWAYS a blast to hop on a bike! My daughter (5-3/4 y.o.) just kicked the training wheels. As a family, we’re all BIcyclists now! I can’t wait for the further adventures…

  13. Mike

    My second time riding up Box Hill in Surrey, I happened to be escorting a group of around a dozen riders… including one Sir Chris Hoy. Unfortunately near the top I did an ‘Andy Schleck’ and dropped my chain right in front of the big man. Don’t know why but I declined the helpful push from the six-time Olympic champion and dismounted to reposition it.

  14. W

    On the group ride where I met my wife (18 yrs ago); to the single track of Crested Butte where we honeymooned; to countless local races in many different areas of the country; in to the homes and up to the tables of friends old and new that I have made on or through the bike (s); self supported from Pittsburg to DC on rail trail with Heather and our sons (then 6 and 9); in to the nooks and crannies of our home range, the Catskill Mountains; and, while not necessarily amazing, I suppose Id be remiss if I didn’t mention more then a couple trips to more then a couple different emergency rooms over the past 25 years or so. I can’t wait for the next ride…

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