14 February, 2022

Why Do I Love Bikes?

by Scott

It's Valentines day, and what better day to profess my love for bikes? I've ridden bikes at a "serious" level since I was about 15. By "serious" I mean cycling has been my main interest outside of breathing and eating. It's the thing that if asked what I wished to spend, say birthday money on, I could rattle off a list of parts or books that were all centered around cycling or training for cycling.

But I'm not the type of person to own a bunch of bikes. I have a couple bikes at home, and working here at VO usually provides a prototype or two if I desire to do a certain style of ride. I tend to be rather singular in terms of the style of bike I own, and I've always been drawn to the 'all-rounder" kind of bike - a sport touring bike in the 80's, a mountain bike with road tires in the 90's, and an all-around touring bike since 2001. I suppose I was most influenced by bikes of the early 80's that were used for touring and have never strayed too far from that reference point.

                                            (Scott's adventure bike circa 2016. Yes that is a triple)

So what is it that got me into cycling back then, and keeps me interested all these years later? I suppose it's the same now as it was then - freedom and a sense of exploration. Many people talk about their first bike being the way that they could explore outside of their neighborhood, and I think it was the same for me. I remember going out for rides on a Saturday night, bundled up against the cold of a winter night in Vancouver with a water bottle full of hot tea. The rule was, once the bottle got cold, it was time to go home. 

Today, it's still the exploration aspect that draws me to cycling. Going out and combining gravel roads with a section of paved road, and maybe even a little bit of single track in between takes me back to my Saturday night rides in the suburbs of Vancouver. It's for this same reason that I was so drawn to the RSF books - the lure of what was over the next hill. I tried racing for a season at age 16 and it just wasn't for me. I much preferred riding with my touring club around BC and down into the US west coast. 

                                                      (Scott's bedside table reading pile)

So what draws you to cycling? Is it the adventure, the technology, the competition? Let us know and let's all celebrate our love for life on two wheels!


Ford said...

Cycling for me is about being outside, hopefully in great weather, which we've in abundance here in Northern California. It's also about the friendships with other riders, shared conversations, beautiful scenery and the benefits of exercise that cycling provides. I enjoy caring for my old bike and keeping it ready, safe and clean. I ride for pleasure and fitness but not mileage bragging rights. Cycling is a getaway experience that makes me feel more alive.

Richard said...

It provides a level of decompression and freedom I just turn my phone off and get to ride. It can be as intense or as short and easy as I would like. I don’t ride like I used to. It’s a much more laid back style now.

Suomalainen Cykel Turist said...

It is simply FUN! And you have the additional benefit of saving time, money, Mother Earth, etc.

Anonymous said...

I have a similar view to you though there was a 35 year gap in my cycling career, from 20 to 55. A very early memory is hauling an old blue girls bike out of the garage and riding away for the first time. What thrill!
I enjoy fixing, cleaning, improving and tinkering with my bike, exploring the city and a doing bit of self-supported touring. Though she slows me down a bit (from slow to very slow), it's an activity my wife also enjoys or tries to enjoy.
I re-started my cycling with a heavy, cheap, front suspension model, went to a cargo bike and have settled on a Salsa Vaya "adventure touring" bike. I think it'll be my lifetime bike though the only original parts are the shifters and fenders so it keeps evolving.
When I was still working, commuting to work (about 12km each way on busy Toronto streets) was a wonderful way to relax and put the cares of the day behind me.

Unknown said...

My goal is to put my cardiologist out of business. So far so good 😊

Anonymous said...

nice tough touring rig, scott!!

Anonymous said...

I'm 64 years old. Bikes were freedom and transport as a kid. Then I got a paper route and they became a way to earn money more quickly than pulling a wagon. I wasn't very cool after the paper route was completed though with that ginormous Wald basket that could hold 50 newspapers bolted to the front of my Schwinn Typhoon. Then I got a summer job and rode 20 miles to and from on busy suburban Chicago streets, this time on a Schwinn 5 speed. The big leap came when I bought a Peugeot UO-8 at about 16. I rode long miles to the Chicago lakefront from my O'Hare airport area home and down Lake Shore Drive to McCormick Place all the way from Devon avenue and back listening to a transistor radio. I also learned how to tear apart and rebuild the entire bike. It was stolen out of my garage, so I upgraded to a Peugeot PX-10 with sew-ups. I recruited some friends and we did some fully loaded touring and camping. Rode from our suburb to LaCrosse Wisconsin and back. And many other adventures like that in Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan. Yes, I switched back to clinchers! In 1982 I bought a Specialized Expedition, one of the great fully loaded touring bikes. I still own it and it is in fantastic condition. I managed to squeeze some 37mm tires on her, even with fenders. Then I bought mountain bikes and did single track in many places, including Western North Carolina near Asheville, and during my 2 year stint in San Diego. I added a Specialized Allez to the fleet for day rides with buddies. Then we bought a lake house which devoured all of my time and attention with sailboat racing, etc. Thus a 15 year gap in any serious riding. A big event this past year or so has put me heavily back into biking. I received a Christmas card from a childhood buddy who had just retired and rode across the country. After his epic ride he discovered he had stage 4 cancer that had spread. I got in touch with him and renewed our friendship. Both of us had come to Christ during the 35 years we had been out of touch. With much prayer by many including me, the Lord has beaten the cancer. He mentioned he needed someone to ride with. I got the Specialized Expedition refurbished and we did the GAP trail last fall. We will do the Ohio to Erie trail in June. And I dove back into the deep end of bicycling, adding a Burly Bridge Club to the fleet for fatter tires even on pavement and the occasional gravel road and the 18 inch low gear for the 14% grades in my part of Southern Indiana. Now I expect to be pedaling until I drop. I will succumb to an e-bike when the time comes. With age comes wisdom, and I ride at a "pleasure pace" with my primary objective of exploration and enjoyment of the scenery God has blessed us with. You would even hear me singing praise songs out loud if I passed by your place. And that is why I enjoy biking at 64 years old.

Anonymous said...

I'm the 64 year old guy from the previous comment. I forgot to mention that after doing the GAP trail, I too discovered I had cancer. Surgery was in January. They got it all.
So if you see two older guys riding fully loaded on the Ohio to Erie trail in early June, chances are it us two cancer survivors. Praise God!

Pat2b said...

Hi, my parents bought me a second hand bicycle for my 8th birthday. It was a mile to school and I road it every day, even on those days with snow that was at most 12 cm in total depth in the town where we lived. Many decades have passed since then and I still ride. More recently, my love of bikes must have increased as I share my bedroom with my bikes and built 2 of them from scratch. One nice thing about bikes is that when your income goes down you can still own one, unlike some transportation vehicles, and, then when it goes back up again, well, there's always a nicer bike to have, eh? Or some parts from stores like Velo Orange.

Mike said...

A long ride on a nice day is like a floating dream.

Anonymous said...

Walking to work takes 45 minutes each way. Bicycling to work takes 10 minutes each way (I am really lucky as I can roll bike inside to a super secure room across from my desk!!!). With a young child, dog, chickens, garden and, a spouse who works overtime, its simple-taking that much time to walk is selfish (I go to the gym for an hour in the morning already). So bicycling gives me the environmental benefits of walking but the same time as driving (being able to roll bike inside negates the car being faster).

Anonymous said...

Sorry to get heavy but when I was kid, home was not always a good place to be, and that's the understated truth. Since my very first, bikes provided escape, independence, and so many positive learning experiences. Biking gave me a sense of connection to nature and the world. No wonder that mine were the most immaculate and perfectly maintained bikes in town.

Bikes have brought me to my wife and family and to many friendships. It has brought me to a life of travel and adventure. One of the things I've come to most appreciate about biking is that it never gets old. Even after 50 years of riding every one, even those on familiar routes, gives me a different experience. Every ride is enjoyable, but I feel a little different on every ride. Tuning into those differences and experimenting with that helps me maintain awareness of my body and mind and lets me be in the flow of the world. Having many different bikes definitely enhances this (road, city, touring, bikepacking, single, hardtail, dual suspension, vintage, modern....).

Although I love and am fascinated by the science of cycling, it's the simplicity and dependability of a well designed bike that I love most. I guess that's it for me. Bikes have always been something I can count on. So yeah....I love bikes.