Everyone loves a new bike! So does Vulpine employee & cycle style blogger Jools. So now she’s decided to get into road cycling, a whole new world was about to open up…
I’ve had my Aprire Celeste since December 2013 – I still remember the moment Phil Dempsey presented her to me at the Cyclogames while I was working the Vulpine Stand. Overwhelmed by the surprise and emotion, I couldn’t believe that I’d got my first road bike, and that it was really mine. I was determined to ride the hell out of it, as soon as possible.
I did get a few rides in on her over the next year (including cycling from Portsmouth to Bognor Regis and back, which was a HUGE feat for me) but nowhere near as much as I wanted. There were a few reasons for that… “oh, I’m too busy to ride this weekend”… “the weather is really bad so I’ll pass on taking her out”. Excuses – they were not reasons, they were excuses. Partly because I was unsure of myself on a road bike, and also felt like I just wasn’t going to be good enough on it.
Fast forward to February 2015 and BaddGyal (that’s her name – all my bikes have names) went back to Phil. Not because I gave up and didn’t want to ride anymore – she went back for a strip down and a custom paint job to make her more ‘Jools’. Every bike I own has a story and connection attached to it – I’d chatted to Phil about this relationship with my bikes and he came up with the idea of giving the Celeste a more personal touch: we’d work together on a custom design, and Baadgyal would come back home. Me and my road bike would start again, with a whole new story to tell.
After many meet-ups and emails discussing ideas, I got a call from Simon at Aprire last week to say she was ready and coming back. I hadn’t actually seen the bike since she was taken away. There had been no photos in between – just Phil and the guys at Aprire giving me the tiniest of sneak peeks into what was being done to her. A spray paint reference here… a metal flake teaser there… the suspense was almost unbearable wondering if my suggestions had made it though!
And then she returned. And DAMN she was beautiful.
My Carbon Fibre baby had been completely transformed. Gone was the original matt black finish on the frame – this was now replaced by a high shine black lacquer. I couldn’t understand why it was gleaming in the light like there were diamonds in the paint. On closer inspection, I could see dashes of what looked like silver… Phil had put pearling into the paintwork, which was the first surprise. Of course I loved it. Then the flames – I wanted purple Hot Wheels style flames coming off the front of my bike. The idea I had for these was all about the need for speed (when I descend, my inner speed demon comes out to play) – and the flames would cement this for me. That and the fact I bloody love the look of them. Aprire had nailed them. The metal flake flames were now licking from the head-tube and wrapping themselves around both the top and down tube. The Purple blaze continued on the fork – the whole thing was covered in it – glistening and shining like a million crushed amethysts. That was the second surprise. Feeling like a pro, I was over the moon to find the third surprise – my cycling moniker staring at me on the top tube. “Lady Velo”, in raised purple metal flake. This bike was really mine, wasn’t it? As a nod to where I spend most of my days and my constant 24/7 relationship with cycling, the inside of the chainstay has “Vulpine” painted on it. That certainly made me smile.
I loved what Phil and the team had done to her. She’d come back, and actually felt like this WAS my bike. So what comes next? What I didn’t do enough of when she first came to be: ride her. Actually get on the saddle and explore – not only my surroundings on it, but explore my relationship with riding a road bike. It’s not like I’ve never been on one before – of course we had some rides in the early days, and I’ve done Eroica three times on a road bike… but it was only a day on a vintage bicycle that wasn’t mine. Me and Baadgyal need to spend some serious time together.
In spending that time together, I’m so keen to learn but to do it in my own time and at my own pace. I don’t want to be pressured into ‘riding a certain way and in a certain style’ – nor do I want to be told that I’m ‘doing it wrong’ if I’m not riding clipped in immediately, don’t know my cassette from my crankset or not out of the saddle climbing Box Hill in the next two weeks. I want to do these things, but I want them to be fun and enjoyable. I’ve absolutely no shame in saying I found it pretty intimidating when I first got this bike and never really done much road cycling before. There should never be any embarrassment about not knowing it all – it’s the desire to learn more about it which makes it all the more exciting and wonderful.
That’s what I hope to do with my road bike. So, if you’re up for joining the journey, or have words of wisdom and stories to tell, I’m all ears! This one is for the road… and I’m determined to get on the saddle, and drink up every single moment of it.