TO LOST FRIENDS, LONG SOLD ON

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Go to any cycling forum. Walk up to a cyclist and ask. Nobody will say the same thing. There is no one perfect bike. Just a perfect bike for you and that day’s ride.

Go to any cycling forum. Walk up to a cyclist and ask. Nobody will say the same thing. There is no one perfect bike. Just a perfect bike for you and that day’s ride.

Under Ernesto Colnago's House

May 2010, under Ernesto Colnago’s house. One of these Fireflies X-lights is mine.

My Sunday Best bike is a Colnago Master X-light. It is made of steel. It is heavy. But it is wonderful, mainly for illogical reasons.

The Master was pretty much the best steel frame around when I was a kid, and I lusted after one as I stared out my bedroom window. You wouldn’t want to race it. But I (and maybe you, if you’re that way inclined) would want to glide it through country lanes and down leafy descents. It is flame red, with chrome bits. I chose alloy finish components over black Campagnolo to add yet more shiny bits. It’s got surprising kick and response, but compared to a carbon frame which holds fast, deadly and without murmuring, the Colnago twangs and stretches, laughing with you. It is my better-dressed eccentric friend.

I had to sell some bikes last year to help bankroll Vulpine. Long lost friends like a XC carbon-fibre hardtail. It was entirely unpractical for much of my/our favourite haunt, the Surrey Hills around Leith Hill with trails like Barry Knows Best. It skittered in my nervous, unskilled hands on wet roots. It kicked me in the arse when I was tense. But damn it it was FAST! Stick it on big-ring singletrack and it flew. It killed climbs. It was my scary hard-looking mate with the heart of gold.

I used to have a men’s shopper as a kid. I guess it was what would be called a hybrid now. It was a gate on wheels. But I loved that so much because it gave me independence. It was sometimes a goalpost, I could chuck it on the floor during my paper round, it could be crashed into hedgerows on the way back from boozy nights out in another village (not the same age as the paper round, ahem). I even rode it inbetween grazing cows, in abortive cyclo-cross attempts. That was the bike that forged the love of riding country lanes, and led to my first ‘proper’ bike. It was the childhood friend I lost touch with, that I’d love to see again, even though we’re so different now.

There are so many steads I’ve had over the years. My bikes really are my friends. Hopefully not in a weird, two-steps-from-sectioning-lives-with-his-dead-mother-in-the-attic sort of way.

Like nights out with friends and lovers, I attach particular emotions to each ride/race/trip, and it builds up into a sort of personality. They are still just beautiful tools. They have to be clean, silent and shine in the sun. But they do right by me and I do right by them. They have no names. But when they go, they go to good homes.

Sentimental weirdo.

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