Sarah’s words at the end of January 2012:
“Fresh from the bike shop, where we have had to buy a new hub for me and a new bottom bracket for Tom, we head to an Outdoors shop. I lean my bike against a pole outside and empty out the frame bag, thinking to myself, If someone nicked my iPod and passport while I was in the shop, that would really suck .
I find a nice water bottle in the shop and ask the girl if I can try it on my bike. I return to the door – and stop, stunned to see the Big Dummy standing in solitary splendour.
I spend several moments just staring. Maybe if I look harder the scene will change. Nope. Just a big empty space. I feel sick.
‘Tom. We have a problem. I’m so sorry’.
In many ways, I feel worse about this for him than for myself. It was the first bike he built up himself from the frame up, using a combination of components from our mountain bikes at home, and carefully selected new ones. He has maintained, nursed and cared for her since Canada, noticing problems before I do, replacing parts as needed. He knows every last nut and bolt on that bike. She was my much loved companion and faithful steed for over 24,000km – but she was Tom’s baby.
What does a cycle tourist do, without a bike? The obvious answer: buy a new one, is difficult to accept while still deeply mourning. Feels a bit like buying a new kitten the day after your cat dies. Or maybe getting married again the day after your husband dies.”
The bicycle-lost was the nearest I could get to Sarah’s geometry with a production hard-tail mountain bike frame. An overly jacked up fork/front end was a compromise in function to give the best possible fit. She’s gifted with long legs that can walk and ride for continents, but relatively shorter arms and a neck/upper back that doesn’t tolerate being too stretched out.
Part of the transition from post-loss-stasis towards leaving town on a bike-that-would-do was some advice from Joe Cruz (paraphrasing) – “Get a good enough bike to finish the trip, then buy the bike you’ve always wanted”. The temporary battering and bruising of identity was soothed by a path forwards.
To those for whom a bicycle is merely a means to a personally-varied end; this investment of such significant meaning will likely seem excessive and ‘stuff-related’. For those who might think differently – you understand.
One bike to rule them all
This is the phoenix from the flames. A bicycle that can run 29er mtb wheels (for mtb or road slicks) or soft-stuff friendly fat tyres (Joe has a lot to answer for in providing the inspiration for this desire too). As much ‘fit and forget’ as possible.
For the detail-people, have a look here for more information.
In ‘thin’ guise it’s already making Sarah’s bike-life easier with better fit and handling than the old aluminium Haro mtb it replaces.
Our first proper ‘fat’ outing was this weekend after a taster curtailed by toddler-melting temperatures last weekend. A mildly abbreviated version of the Waterous Loop got us out of town (finally).
This brief foray – the beginning of many, many more.