Thursday, October 27, 2016

Living in the past

There's a series on PBS called Grantchester. It takes place in rural England in the early 1950s. One the protagonists is a clergyman who, when visiting his parishioners, almost always rides his bike. He never seems to be hurried; he's going somewhere, and the bicycle is just the way he does it.

I admire that attitude; bicycling not as a goal, but as a means. It's been pointed out that there is a segment of the population who, when they take up a hobby, go all in. Or all out. They have to become the best. For many in bicycling, that's racing. In racing, it's easy to tell who's the best, because of course it's competitive.

I've been finding, though, that that attitude seeps into other aspects of bicycling. The group ride becomes a matter of getting to the goal in the shortest time possible. The social ride becomes a competition to see who can "lead the pack".

But what if you don't subscribe to that attitude? What if your goal is not to get to your destination as quickly as possible, but simply to see what's on the way? At that point, the journey becomes the goal, and you are not primarily a cyclist, but someone who travels by bike.

When you take that attitude, that the bike is a tool and not a platform from which to compete...well, then, what sort of bicycle do you get. A hybrid? A touring bike? An "all-around" bike?

Seriously, I'm asking. If you don't think of biking as competition, what is your goal, and what kind of bike do you think will help you realize that goal? I'll go first: my goal is long-distance riding, not just to get somewhere, but to be able to be in different places every day. The bike I think of doing this on (in my dreams) is a steel framed bike with a Rohloff IGH. And a dynamo hub up front, so I can be the power source for the bike lights. This hypothetical bike will also ride best with a front load; two panniers and a handlebar bag.

How about you? If you're not competitive, why do you ride a bicycle? And what bike do you think will help you realize this goal?


  1. Very thought provoking topic! I imagine every bike rider will answer this one differently. I ride a bike to get places and to keep fit. I also hate to drive and dislike traffic. My preferences for bikes have changed over the years, and ran the spectrum from classic steel steel touring bike to mountain bike to now transitioning primarily to two bikes : an old step-through mountain bike for around town rides, to a new step-through Rivendell for touring.

    As an aside, I'd love to see a photo with every blog post.

    1. I don't see many people riding mountain bikes around town, so that's pretty interesting.

      As far as pictures go, I simply forget to take pictures most of the time. That's why I'm a failure at coffeneuring. I ride three miles for a cup of coffee, but just never get around to taking pictures of the coffee.