Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Cycling: it's time to come clean

And there's a lot to confess. It's going to take some time. So I'll start off with a picture:

That's my bike! It's a 1974 Viscount Aerospace Pro, a beautiful thing which shares its creation myth with the Advanced Passenger Train and the TSR-2 - talented aerospace engineers put energy into doomed later flowering of British industrial prowess, since forgotten by nearly everyone. Actually, I think I might have made up the Viscount's inclusion in that myth myself. But it kind of fits.

We have done some amazing things together. That bike gave me my first, genuine, entirely-cycling-fuelled
moment of euphoria.  I was half an hour into the Pendle Witches Vintage Velo ride a couple of years ago, and along with a couple of hundred other riders, I'd climbed out of the Irwell Valley to the hills above Padiham and Burnley. The sun came out, and half of Lancashire was spread out in front of me, with the road down into the valley twisting and turning nicely. "Oh yes!" I thought, instantly ruling myself out from any future competition to find the next Poet Laureate.

An amount of acceptance of the effects of gravity was required, along with a high degree of faith in the forty year old bike I was sitting on. A bike which had until 12 months previously, been in bits in a box in a Brummie bloke's garage. I stuck my head down, tucked my elbows in and dialled in some more speed as gravity took over. Smashing down  the hill with a sonic boom rattling the windows of the houses is probably one of the finest things I have ever experienced, or ever will experience. There is something magical about how little stuff there is on a bike. It heightens the illusion that it's just you that is racing down a hill at forty five miles per hour; that you have been endowed with modestly superhuman powers for a short while.

That picture above was taken on January 1st 2013, and I can vividly remember the screaming red wine hangover which I had at the time. It's a measure of how much I love being on the bike that when I rolled out of bed that morning, I somehow landed in the saddle.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely piece!

    I clicked on the tag "Viscount Aerospace Pro" and was dismayed to find that this was the only related post. Rectify this quickly!

    It is indeed rather insane/revelatory how little there is to a bike, and yet how fast and how far it is possible to go on one. Also, how robust they can be, and how incredible cheaply they can be made.