Thursday, 20 April 2017

Old Bikes....and Beer!

With the Easter festivities behind us, Gary and I found ourselves conveniently free on Tuesday. The ideal situation then to get the 'old bikes' out and give them a blast. Eroica is just around the corner and we know that riding these old machines requires some practise.

To be fair, I've already been out a couple of times on my Colnago - each time making a few vital adjustments: raise the saddle a few millimetres, lower it again etc etc - fine tuning is key here. In the end I changed the saddle completely and now the ride is altogether more comfortable. Likewise changing gear - no easy, simple-click-of-a-button with these babies - oh no - it's a case of reaching down to the levers mounted on the down-tube and then pulling and pushing until something happens, all the time attempting to keep eyes on the road and remain in a straight line. Invariably there's lots of crunching noises and I've ended up on the opposite side of the road.

But the hardest thing (at least for me) is getting my feet into the right position on the pedals - remember, no cleats here - we're working with metal toe clips and leather straps - the whole resembling some sort of poacher's trap. The technique seems to be to get one foot in and secured while still stationary, scoot off and then perform a series of flicking and tapping movements with the (still) free foot on the remaining pedal. The weight of the clip and strap means that it's always hanging down, so much so that it scrapes the road - it requires the dexterity of a tap dancer to accomplish the required action - most times it will take me half a dozen attempts before I'm in. Then there is a further lean down to the pedal to tighten the straps and finally we're off. By the time all this is done you can bet that we've arrived at a junction - and there's a frantic, flailing display to reverse the above procedure and get a foot out before coming to a halt. Failure to do so will result in the embarrassment of simply toppling over, both feet firmly clamped onto the pedals and with just hands and arms to cushion the fall.

We met at our usual rendezvous location - Gary had managed to get there without once changing gear - thus alleviating half of the problems. On the journey from my house, my bike had developed an annoying problem that resulted in the axle holding the pedals moving horizontally about a half inch - this was deemed serious and there was much staring at the offending parts. Gary thought it best to repair to my workshop whereupon a more calculated appraisal could be made - I stared a bit longer before we agreed to cycle a few miles in that direction and 'see what happens'.

At Congerstone we halted next to the bus stop and I turned my bike over on the conveniently situated patch of grass. I was then able to tighten the loose locking nut that holds the axle and pedals in place - just using my fingers - I couldn't get it really tight but I did manage to solve the immediate problem. All good then? - we decided to carry on.

Before setting off on this ride we had planned to avoid any hills - the gearing on these bikes is such that only men with proper thigh muscles could possibly move these machines up any kind of a gradient - so I was surprised that Gary suggested making our way to Market Bosworth - not least because the hill to get there is formidable. Even more surprising was that I agreed to his ludicrous idea. But we managed it - and (the most surprising surprise of all) it wasn't bad! - we got up it relatively easily.

We called in at Velobici - a designery cyclists apparel establishment, very cool, very 'with-it' and very expensive - nice stuff though - and an interesting collection of old bikes used as part of the shop display. By now it was past lunchtime - we decided a pint would be a good idea and after another five minutes of scraping toe-clips and flicking feet we arrived at the Black Horse - essentially a restaurant but with a quite welcoming patio area round the back, ideal for this (mainly) sunny Tuesday afternoon. Gary bought out a couple of 'Doom Bars' - he thought they were cloudy, which they were, but seemed to taste okay. We followed that with a couple of Italian lagers and a bag of Kettle crisps each and then it was time to ride back. We headed back to Congerstone and I pealed off for the 3 mile climb back to home, All in all a good few miles - Gary has now used all his gears, I know I need to tighten that lock nut and we've both enrolled for tap dancing lessons.

Old man on old bike cries 'rape'