Bike Week, a poem; The things I’d miss

The things I’d miss; sailing neck and neck
With the porcelain, jewel eyed gull
On a sunny morning through the park.
Other days, swifts riding my bicycle’s bow wave
Weaving patterns in the air before my spinning wheel.

I’d miss the system check of ascent and descent; first
The heart races, shouts “still here, still beating” then
Over the top and gravity’s reign loosens
And air rushes like breaking waves, the freewheel’s tick blends to a hiss.
These are the things I’d miss.

On a warm evening, climbing out of town
Passing the Irish bar, ‘Danny Boy’ in doppler effect
Spills from the doorway like a lush. A few doors up
The smell of coffee briefly joins the senses’ tableau, replaced by baked pastries, fried chicken and oregano as I climb the fast food strip.
The sun is still warm on the neck, the breeze cool on my face, the forces are balanced and I’m spinning in bliss. These things and more, these are the things I’d miss.

Hidden places, the city’s secret corners, the nuances of place, the olfactory soundbyte of a woman’s perfume as I pass, the cigarette smoke from a car window, brief snatches of strangers’ conversations spilling onto life’s cutting room floor. I’d miss the keen connection with the ying/yang of hill, of weather, of visceral life. These are the things I’d miss
If I didn’t go by bike.

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Everyday Cyclist Profiles: Geoff Briers

Here’s another Everyday Cyclist profile, this time from Geoff in the Isle of Man. If you’d like to submit your profile, just send your details, using the format that Geoff’s used below to edmundallen@blueyonder.co.uk with Everyday Cyclist Profile in the Subject line. You can send pics too!

Profile

Name – Geoff Briers

Age – 48

Location – Isle of Man, British Isles.

Occupation – Part owner and director of 2 small businesses (computer services and road haulage).

My Commute – about 6 miles each way, usually on a Honda 250 (ridden gently can get 85mpg), sometimes on an old mountain bike along an all too often muddy track. Very rarely use the car.

My Bike – Moulton TSR9, modified with an extra chainring to give wider gear range and now with drop bars (still friction shifting a 9 speed!)

Tortoise or Hare? – Tortoise, but one that likes to sometimes go quite a long way.

Favourite Local Ride – Early Sunday morning schlep over to the café on the seafront in Laxey with a couple of pals, round trip about 40 miles. Great tea & bacon butties!!

Top Tip – For those of us who’ve been around for a while, take time to warm up, ease into the ride gently and don’t start off trying to be a hero – after 10-15 minutes you’ll be ‘in the groove’.

I got off at the wrong station…

I got off at the wrong station last night,
Miscounted the stops. Realised too late
Alighted to save face. The evening
Was hot and hazy. One of those nights
When serendipity stalks. A cruel mistress
She is sometimes, but kind this night.

I pushed off away from the station
Up the pleasant lane of brick and black
And white houses, heading to the main road.
Then I saw it, the sign for a path undiscovered.

Tyres quitted tarmac and went silent
On compacted dirt. The path sliced narrow
Between suburban gardens, golf links
And forgotten patches, bramble lined and overgrown.
A very English jungle.
Spiny tentacles fingered the
Spokes of my wheels like a harp. Gravel
Pinged from my tyres like buckshot from a sling.

Wild garlic filled my senses, the path snaked
Gently down over cobbles and roots until
the evil fizz of traffic became a roar.

I shouldered the bike, heavy with daily bags
And climbed the motorway footbridge,
A narrow pontoon of concrete across a raging river
Of urgent metal. I stopped a moment to see
If I could see the whites of the drivers’ eyes
Through the glass. I could. On another day
That would be me, a rabbit caught in my own
Headlights.

I descended the bridge and followed the path
Cut by foot and wheel beside a vast field of wheat,
Its green heads swaying. Past the horses itching
Against rough hewn fences. Past the man walking his mastiff.

The path ended as it had to, finally spitting me out
On sadly familiar tarmac. I spun home happy though,
Knowing I’d charted new courses, ground new gravel,
Just a few miles from home. Later I pondered
The law of happy accidents.

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Two Hobos Hitch a Ride

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Lady Hobo bike spotted on the train today, nestled against Hoborectio. Crummy picture caused by poor light, phone camera and lurching carriage but you get the idea.

Note if you can the high quality yet dishevelled pannier, bar wrap repaired with electrical tape and polythene bag bungeed atop the rack.

She’s a hobo and no mistake, on the road to who knows where…

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Hobo Bicycles

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In my recent real world and virtual wanderings I’ve become aware of a hitherto undiscovered or at least less-commonly-classified species of bicycle, that I like to term ‘the Hobo’.

You won’t find the Hobo bicycle in any product catalogue. No sir. It’s not a bicycle that your average marketing department could or would sell.

It’s not a touring bicycle in the traditional sense but it’s a bike that evokes thoughts of travel, independence and everyday wanderlust. If Huck Finn owned a bicycle, it would be a Hobo for sure. 

The Hobo bicycle cannot be created. Rather it grows out of the heady brew of usefulness, necessity, love and neglect. Beausage is its watchword; it knows not the life of the pampered Sunday Best bike.

The Hobo can be any kind of bicycle from any era. It’s classification comes from its level of cosmetic neglect and functional adornment. Indeed, it is almost beyond definition. You’ll know one when you see one.

I entertain thoughts of Resurrectio attaining Hobo status. However, one must realise that such status is largely beyond owner control. Besides, I polish her too much.

I’ve included an image of a bicycle that perhaps epitomises the Hobo better than any I’ve seen, Grant Petersen’s Rivendell Atlantis camping bicycle. An expensive bicycle with an exquisite frame and fork and some choice components. But proudly Hobo nonetheless.

Over the coming hours and days, I’ll post some more pics that define Hobo chic. Indeed, dear reader, feel free to send your Hobo bicycle pics to me at edmundallen@blueyonder.co.uk, with the word Hobo in the subject line.

Nb: image of Grant’s bicycle from the excellent blog http://pushingthepedals.com. No harm intended.

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Everyday Cyclist Profiles – David Estes

Here’s another Everyday Cyclist reader profile, this time from David in Kansas. It’s great to get such an insight into the real world cyclists that inhabit our little corner of the online cycling world. If you’d like to send in your profile drop me an email at edmundallen@blueyonder.co.uk with ‘Everyday Cyclist Profile’ or similar in the Subject box. If you’d like to, send in a profile picture too of you, your bike, or both.

Name: David Estes

Age: 57

Location: Leavenworth, Ks. (near Kansas City metropolitan area)

Occupation: Project Manager (Telecommunications)

My Commute: 2 -3 days a week, partial commute. Commute is 40 miles, I drive 25 and bike the last 15. Usually roads, but sometimes multi-use path and roadway.

My Bike: 2010 Trek FX-3 fitness hybrid

Tortoise or Hare? Tortoise.

Favorite local ride: Rides out into the farm land north and west of Leavenworth. Usally 20 to 30 mile loops.

Top tip: Ride like you drive.