I am, despite whatever lingering swash-buckling notions of myself I still might harbor, a serial monogamist. I had two high school girlfriends. I had three in college. The last became my wife. We’ve been together 22 years, and my eye does not wander. I write that, not in fear that she might be reading this, but rather to reinforce the idea that usually identify something I like (love, dear…love), and then I stick by it.
This has largely described my bike riding life, also. I tend to have just one bike that I ride every day, a road bike. I ride it for years. I commute on it. I ride it with friends. I ride it alone on weekends. I take it on vacation with me.
I had one mountain bike between 1996 and 2011. Now I’m not an every-day or even every-week mountain biker, so that’s not as dramatic a statement as it appears, but my point is that, despite collecting a fair number of two-wheeled machines over the years, I am pretty loyal to the bikes that I ride. Too many others have hung in my garage, collecting dust.
But a strange thing has happened in my cycling life recently. I added a “gravel” bike to my collection. This was a purpose-built bike, I thought. I would ride it in the woods. I would ride it on dirt roads. I might commute on it in winter, with studded tires.
Then I walked to the bottom of my basement stairs on a Tuesday.
My road bike and my gravel bike stand there, both facing the door, ready to go. The weather was clear, the road dry. The ride to work is five miles. I reached for the road bike and then stopped, thought for a moment, and then rolled the gravel bike out the door.
Here’s what I was thinking. First, the roads here (everywhere?) are terrible, pot-holed and patched and crumbling. The wider tires on the gravel bike are far more forgiving than the 25s on my road machine. The hand injury I gifted myself in the summer has left me a little weak on one side, so the more jolting I can avoid the better. That ties into my second thought, the disc brakes. A year ago I wouldn’t have told you I wanted a disc brake road bike. I still think discs are not necessary on the road here in New England, BUT there are days when I’m glad to have them.
And now I’m a two bike Robot.
This week’s Group Ride asks, are you faithful or are you a player? How many bikes do you own vs. the number you ride? Are you like me, your idea of what makes the perfect every day bike constantly evolving? Or are you sure of what you want and how you want it to look?