Friday, 17 February 2012

Cycle musing

I've been really enjoying cycling the 12km each way to work and back, and as I bike I often have a wee think - recently about cycling clothing. Disregarding the lycra brigade, who are not Our Kind of People, there are still several schools of thought about appropriate cycling clothing.

First is the "back to Amsterdam" school, who want us all to cycle like those in Denmark or Holland. Wearing business suits and overcoats, with briefcases, travelling at a stately 10-15 km/hr. Not very likely, except for short trips in flat towns.

A related movement, Frocks on Bikes, aims to convince women that you don't have to be lycra-gym-goddesses to bike, and it's quite possible to bike in work clothes.

Then there's me. I wear bike shorts under my work pants, and an old t-shirt for my ride to work. Once I've cooled down at work, I have a quick body wash, change into regular underwear, and change my shirt. Nobody's complained so far, after 8 years or so.

For my ride home, I sometimes change back into the bike shorts, but now my bum has adjusted to regular riding, most days I ride home in ordinary clothes. I have steel clips for trouser cuffs, the bike has mudguards, and panniers for wet weather gear, shopping, and other stuff. I go at 18-25km/hr depending on the wind direction, and I work up a light sweat. But I do appreciate the bike shorts on the morning ride, they help the day off to a comfortable start.

I've developed a sort of mild-guerilla style of biking in traffic. I don't go out to assert my rights, but in heavy stop-go traffic I stay in the lane and behave like a car. I'm as fast as a car through a roundabout, and it means I'm seen as part of the flow. I don't hide behind vans any more, they can accelerate and leave you dodging some jerk with a moustache driving a panzer 4WD.

I also give hand signals - why don't other cyclists do this? It's in your interest to keep the other guy alert to you, if nothing else; "I just didn't see him" is the sadly true statement from many a cyclist-killer. So I eyeball motorists at intersections, indicate turns or going straight through, and give a friendly wave to people who've been polite. And returning to clothes; hi-vis jackets or vests, plus lights on bike and helmet.

My Blade loaded up for a trip through the Haast Pass in 2010
I'm thinking of trading up to a new bike - since 2005 my faithful Avanti Blade has done over 16,000km, and a lot of components are wearing out. The integrated brake and gear levers don't behave properly, the chain and sprockets need replacing for the 3rd (or 4th?) time, and generally it's tired. I think I'll replace it with another Avanti, a new design called the Explorer; these are hybrid road-mountain bikes, with 38mm 700c tyres, suspension front forks, and a medium upright riding position - great city bikes that will handle a bit of kerb jumping and gravel roads.
Explorer 2, with disk brakes

1 comment:

Red Nech said...

MMmmm.... mate of mine has bought one of those Avantis - he keeps putting pix on face book with comments like " still purrrrdy"