damerell: (cycling)
[personal profile] damerell posting in [community profile] bicycles
Hello. My name's David, I never travel by car, I own too many bicycles, I build all my own wheels, and this is way too long.

The bike I got first (bought for me as a teenager in about '91) is what I now think of as my audax bike:


About a decade ago I started commuting 22 miles a day on that bike. I was pretty fit while I was doing that, but largely stopped when I broke my jaw a few years later. I've replaced bent forks and had three cracked downtubes mended on it - the third time, I sent it to a different framebuilder and also had the lower headtube lug replace, and it hasn't happened again - and essentially there is nothing left of the original bike save 2/3 of the frame, two brake levers, and one of the gear shifters.

I still think of it as the audax bike even though I've stopped riding audax for the time being. I've ridden a 300; I've ridden four 200s in the same month; but I'm not actually convinced I enjoy it... apart from the 100km London Sightseer, which is like nothing else (the routesheet is longer than that for the 1400km London-Edinburgh-London). My friend [personal profile] tajasel likes to ride tandem, and the main reason I don't like riding audaxes is riding alone and going quietly mad (mp3 player notwithstanding), so perhaps that'll pick up again.

I don't know what to do with this bike, short of getting another job 11 miles away. It's fast (not like some carbon-fibre confection, but like a practical gentleman's light tourer) and a pleasure to ride, but too precious to take 2 miles and lock up when I could just use my oldest bike...

... my oldest bike is the Triumph, a Raleigh back from when Raleigh had bought up a number of other names and released bikes with their names on. It's probably from about 1970, but who knows? I've had a chainguard put on it since this photo, but:


The original hub was shot, so I stuck on a Sturmey-Archer S5; the original BB was shot, but the late great Sheldon Brown suggested you could have it rethreaded to modern spacing, and it worked; the original front brake bolt wouldn't fit a headlight, but I bought a newer bolt from a bike shop in spite of them insisting it wouldn't fit, and it did. I did the Dunwich Dynamo (overnight 180km ride to a sunken village on the coast) on this bike with an acquaintance on her penny-farthing (made for her by the great and not-late Joff Summerfield of round-the-world penny-farthing fame) and I also got a bucket of rivets and studded some tyres up to ride in the ice and snow:


However, mostly I ride a Brompton - given the difficulty of taking non-folding bikes on trains in the UK and that I have a partner halfway across London, I suspect I ride more on the folder than every other bike combined. I don't have a photo of that but hell, it's a Brompton, they all look the same. Mine is only unusual in that when the seatpost used to slip down (as they do) [personal profile] ses spilled a lot of stout on it, and even after every trace of the sticky coating was gone, it didn't slip anymore. Years later I bent the seatpost riding down a slope that turned out to be stairs-slope-stairs-slope and so forth (it caught me by surprise and there was nothing to do but point the bike down the centre, get off the saddle, and try not to have a prang) and I immediately coated the replacement with stout.

The only bike I've had stolen is a Brompton. Since then (insurance replaced it) I never take a lock with me if I'm on the Brompton. If you do, you might be tempted to lock it up and not take it with you. I've done a 200km audax on the Brompton - at 150km or so, I said "fucking hell, never again" - and I was beyond thaxted [1] afterward. Later that year I did the Dunwich Dynamo on the Brompton and at 150km or so said to myself "a) fucking hell, never again b) remember this time, David". I also took it touring this year in Switzerland - via the Wave-Gotik-Treffen in Leipzig - but since I was with my parents who are a tad older, the distances were not excessive, although I was a bit alarmed to find myself doing 38mph downhill on a clown's bike _and_ being dropped by my dad.

I also own a tandem. My friend Robin and I bought it on ebay for 350 quid in 2004 from a chap who lived 2 miles away; we literally went over there after work and handed him a brown envelope full of money as if we were bribing a Tory. We got it to do the Land's End to John O'Groats, and I've never regretted it:


Since then I've had it fitted with S&S couplings and repainted (in British Racing Green, obviously), but I've got no photos of that. I use it a bit these days; one of my inamorata has a bad back, and her pain per unit time is roughly constant whether she's walking at 2.5mph, riding her bike at 10mph, or riding the tandem at 20mph.

Oh, and there's a frame and parts and a back wheel in the bedroom (presently there are also two bikes in the bedroom) with "fixed gear?" written on them, but I'm too lazy to put them together.

[1] All audax rides in Essex go through the village of Thaxted, which is obviously therefore at the top of a hill. Ben and I came to use "thaxted" to describe an intermediate state of tiredness, more tired than tired but less tired than...

... well, the story has it that a British and a French rider were riding together in the Paris-Brest-Paris, and the Brit enquired of the other chap if there was a more emphatic expression for tiredness than "tres fatiguee" - the normal idiom is "crevee" but that also means "punctured" so is no use in a cycling event.

The Frenchman turns to him and says "Oui, monsieur! C'est 'fuerked'!".

So "thaxted" is between "tired" and "fuerked".
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