Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Riding for transport

A week or so ago at the Audax NSW awards night at Harts Pub, it was great to catch up with Adrian, once a blogging peer from Yellow Brick Road, now more wise.

He arrived, very stylishly on a natty Brompton and following a folding/unfolding demonstration we yacked a bit about its utility and how Adrian was using the bike regularly during his day to get to meetings outside of his building (he works at a large University) and across campus.

I thought this approach pretty intelligent and as I frequently find myself in a similar position as my office is offsite to the main building (about 1.2k down the road) and I regularly drive to meetings and return often 3 time each day I had a great idea. A Brompton could be really useful in replacing those car journeys and making an (albeit small) difference to my carbon footprint. And bromptons are really cool. Just ask Will Self .

I descended on the Brompton website and after deciding that I would need the 6 speed, titanium model with the Brooks saddle and custom paint, was forced to consider the fiscal practicalities of this.

On reflection I realised that a folding bike wasn't really necessary as I am blessed with a large garage and loading dock at work, and in my home bike shed I just happened to have a "spare" stealth bike built up from decent retro parts found but tragically unused this last year or so (nitto stem and bars, Selle Italia saddle, Dia compe brakes, sugino cranks and 105 ders - the wheels - Velocity Dyads - were new couple of years ago).

So I dusted off the Stealth on the weekend, placed some nice MKS platform pedals on so I could ride in work shoes, adjusted the mudguards, stuck on the old Zefal frame pump and attached lights front and rear. Took it for a quick spin and realised that 20 some years of working downtube friction shifters never goes away and felt right at home.

I took the bike to work on Monday set it up in its parking spot against the wall and waited for my first meeting. Before long I found myself donning my helmet, and velcro gaiters before setting off on my maiden voyage, slightly anxious for some strange reason. I needn't have worried, it felt great and was every bit like riding a bike!

So far I have done 8.7km just going to meetings and back to the office. The bike runs great, it's an easy flat ride and I can make better time on the trip than I ever did in the car, simply because I can ride right up to the back door and the traffic lights mean everything moves at 25kph anyway.

I also feel "cycle chic" on the rides as I'm in work duds, which is usually a suit and always a tie. It's actually really nice to ride like it isn't a big deal, no gloves, no lycra, no water bottle - just hop on and go. I noticed quite a few WTF looks from drivers and pedestrians today as I rode to meetings and back, jacket flapping lazily, drive train humming, carbon being saved.

At the end of the exercise though, I just really enjoy riding.

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