Do you remember your first bike or a favourite childhood bike?
One of my few regrets is that I can't remember much about any of my childhood bikes. I've always thought it would be great to have a first memory of setting off without stabilisers, and being able to pin down that moment as when I became a cyclist, but I can't. I don remember they were all usual salvaged bikes, second-hand mongrels that were purposeful rather than pretty. Ill fitting for a while, as I grew into them, and then too small as I continued to grow. the first bike I really remember was my first new bike in about '88. My brother and I were both bought Raleigh Magnums with money from our Grandad's inheritance. I've just Googled them and its a stretch to call it a mountain bike, but it was a the bike that got me into mountain biking.
It was through my brother and my friends that I got into cycling. At the end of the 80’s mountain biking was the thing. And I was hooked. All my pocket money was spent on mountain bike magazines and I memorised bike specs, frame builders and race reports. I dabbled in racing and soon discovered that I fitted into the midpack very easily. I didn’t even need to train. Moving to London in 1995 meant that I began my commuting life (twenty years of commuting in London this year!). I soon realised that even with slick tyres I would be better off on something different to my mountain bike. So that led to a single speed road bike. This began my road riding life, albeit a lot later than most people do. From here the love of bikes grew outwards and took in fixed, cyclocross, single speed mountain bikes and 29ers.
Recently I’ve been riding in Essex quite a bit, and each time I ride there I see how much I like it. Away from the places that everyone thinks of as quintessentially Essex (as shown on dubious TV shows) are tons of tiny villages and hamlets, linked together with quiet roads. It’s fairly flat but has an exposed rawness that reminds me of Flanders (in my mind while riding in winter anyway). I can also plot a mean route to put on my Garmin tourer. Looking at a map you can usually work out a decent way to get off the ‘A’ roads and onto something quiet.
Almost all of my favourite cycling memories are linked with riding with friends. I’m a purely social rider and can’t stand cycling on my own. I can’t judge my pace and usually end up riding faster than I should and not really enjoying it. However, it’s really hard to think of single favourite memory. It’s easier to choose trips away, like riding in Fruita, or climbing Cols in the Alps or the Pyrenees. But it’s more the fact that bikes have brought my friends together. For me there is no better feeling than chasing them through narrow sun dappled singletrack at the end of a long day. Laughing at the end of the trail as you are pumped up with adrenalin and endorphins. Then heading back to wherever we are staying for a couple of cold ales and enough food to undo any good that the days exercise has done!
The snow would probably have to be cleared from it, but I’d love to ride the Stelvio in Italy. Its switchbacks are almost clichéd from the stunning photographs I’ve see, but I’d love to go there. I really enjoy climbing roads in the mountains. Many people may see it as purgatory, but the thought of a day spent out in the mountains when you have nothing else to do except settle into the climb and enjoy being away from all the hustle and bustle of modern life. And hopefully no one would notice how bad my descending is on the way down.
I’m not entirely sure. I suggested a load of what I now see as really pretentious names. Thankfully none of them stuck and one of the magazine’s original four came up with the name.
The sad thing is it’s the tedious things like infrastructure, better town planning and the promotion to the masses that cycling is the solution to so many things. It can provide great exercise, reduce traffic probleipms, is usually quicker on short journeys, saves money, doesn’t use as many fossil fuels, makes people feel better mentally and physically. It’s the whole package. The world should be told many more times than it does.
Thanks Philip. Everyone at Bikelands loves the journal, keep up the great work!More Info
Cycle 7 is where we ask the people behind some of our favourite brands and products seven simple questions about their cycling inspirations and the story behind their products.