Gearing Up again: Never delay a Bike Ride


A (re)start with an old bike is rarely perfect

“It’s not always rainbows and butterflies it’s compromise it moves us along”. When listening to LA band and seminal mid-00’s philosophers Maroon 5 many may think back to a difficult patch in an old relationship – maybe why you and ‘the one’ went bust before you got back together better than ever – but cyclists know that song is clearly about a bike.

Cycling in the rain, cycling in the dark, cycling in the winter (often a combo of the first two), can certainly make a rider feel a pedal up the hill at the end of their street is your own personal Alpe D’Huez. Regular cyclists encounter regular challenges. Yet, beyond the daily rider there’s another in this mix: the new beginner daunted by the brave new world.

The cycling boom is very real

Cycling today is big business. Sure, it is not news many kids have grow up wheeling a BMX around their neighbourhood, but the rise of cycling’s popularity in numerous western nations (such as the US and Australia outside of the traditional European heartland)has brought with it a huge surge in sales, demand, and overall purchasing power in the industry.

Accordingly, while this is a fantastic thing all up – for a bigger audience and bigger market brings with it great diversity, new technology, and opportunity to pursue a passion – it has also given rise to the prominence of what can only be known as bikeporn (safe link to click) and the disdain some share for owning a banger.

Historical sketches don't survive to show us what Da Vinci envisioned as an old banger - but this is surely close.

History doesn’t record exactly what Da Vinci envisioned as an old banger – but this is surely close.

Lest this get x rated banger is an old bike or car in Australian parlance. To a committed cyclist it’s that bike you might no longer use, the sort of one you lend to a friend or take out for a spin to the milk bar when your odds of coming off and popping a tube as as big as crushing the 2L of Pauls on the trip back home.

Indeed, it may even be the one you cheekily hide away when your lycra clad mates come around post ride for a Saturday afternoon of explaining pedal by pedal your best Strava times – but for a new cyclist this is right now well up the road. There dilemma may be something altogether different: I want to ride but don’t have a great bike.

The issue may be real. They get smirks when you ride it. Anyone in a 5 foot vicinity of a carbon fibre frame is aghast at what it’s sight when you ride by – but you love it. Also, despite the cheeky smirks, it’s a known fact: even those very serious owners of one of those bikes that cost in the thousands have an old bike in the garage. Everyone also has one: a old and ‘gnarly’ bike. Indeed a former Australian Prime Minister was even known to keep one in his office.

Bike at Beach

If it takes you somewhere fun and gives you fun as it does its the perfect bike for a beginner.

The real shame: not getting into cycling at all

And herein lies the issue; just as one need walk before they can run so too need a new cyclist be set on getting onto the road by any means necessary. Do so shamelessly, do so indulgently, do so inelegantly if you must – but just get riding. Any cyclist worth their weight in chamois cream would do well to encourage a new rider on the road, not shame them.

So if you’ve the urge to ride do so. While a good helmet and bike lights are a must – and be sure to do a inspection to ensure you bike is safe and sound to ride – just be sure to get riding. Get your heart racing, get your cadence going, and (re)familiarise yourself with the fundamentals of gearing up and down, taking corners, and so on.

Once this is done and you’re outgrowing the old bikes capabilities? THEN go get something pretty from Italy.

Ed Kennedy is a journalist, ghostwriter, and web developer from Melbourne, Australia. Contact Ed via on LinkedIn or Twitter@EdKennedy01

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