On yer bike.
Updated: May 12
I've always enjoyed cycling. But up until now it has always been cutting through traffic in Central London - not the quiet lanes of Norfolk & Suffolk near my B&B. Will I be able to cope with the transition?
I got my first bike when I was 11. That's me - in the back garden of my house in Leyton.
Up until that point I used to beg for rides on my friends Choppers and Grifters.
Many of my mates at that time went down the BMX route but that was not my style. I much preferred the look of those chaps doing the Tour De France, so I went down the racer route.
The bike you see above took me on a tour of Holland, organised by my one of our teachers as school. We left London and cycled in a day to Harwich in order to catch the ferry to Holland. That ride in itself nearly broke some of the other pupils on the trip and it certainly broke a few bikes - many of which were only used for bombing around the local estates up until that point. Anyhow we made it around Holland - making a stop in Amsterdam's red light district which was a bit of an eye opener for a group of 11 year old boys!
Time to get fixed up!
I went through the usual MTB stuff for a few years - but never really understood them - especially as riding a heavy bike on big fat tyres on the streets is like trying to cycle through treacle! Then one day I noticed a cycle courier hacking through traffic on a fixie. A fixie - or fixed gear - bike are the type of things usually kept on track..
Somehow they had made it out of the Velodrome and onto the streets and I was hooked.
The bike you see above was my introduction to fixed gear riding. For those that haven't tried it - it is a completely different experience. As the name suggests the rear wheel is 'fixed' to a single sprocket meaning you cannot stop pedalling - ever! Some people opt for a 'flip flop' rear sprocket - meaning you can swop between a free wheel and fixed set up. The hardcore even go for a bike with no brakes! Not only very dangerous - but illegal to use on the public road.
What I found though was that the ride was very smooth. Mainly because you learn to look much further ahead through traffic to pick the optimum route. Very important when you can't stop pedalling and only have a front brake - but also you get a 'fly wheel' effect happening on the crank. Making the whole experience quite enjoyable.
That is until a car that you are following stops dead in a junction - which is what happened to me in Hackney.
This ended with me lying in a heap in the middle of a busy junction ( still attached to bike straps ) winded and with a cracked frame. So that was the end of that!
For anyone who is interested I have a facebook group with over 2,600 members worldwide:
Back to the racer.
So it was back to road bike - This time I went for a bespoke build Pinarello. I sourced all the parts and frame myself and had a pro build it to my spec. This included PARIS carbon frame, Campagnolo Record group set, Fulcrum Zero wheels and a sprinkling of M.O.S.T. parts. The whole set up cost more than my car - don't tell the wife!
This thoroughbred served me well taking part in charity rides and sportives across the country.
I am hoping to get out and explore some of the beautiful scenery that Norfolk has to offer. A nice ride ( on lovely flat lanes ) up to the coast or around the Broads is just what is called for after years of riding in the big city.