We’ve written a lot on this blog about the Rules for people who ride bikes about the “right” number of bikes being “n+1 where n is the number of bikes you currently have.”
This little sweetie makes my current n 4. It’s been 4 before, but I don’t think it’s ever been more than 4, except for when I also had a refurbed spinning bike. The other three are my glorious, beloved road bike, an extremely sturdy city bike, and a vintage 1970s sky-blue single speed sweetie with a basket and a pretty bell and coaster brakes.
(It’s hard to take a selfie that also shows your bike, by the way. How does one do a bikie?)
She’s a Bombtrack Beyond, a steelframed all road lighter weight touring bike. Over the past several years, I’ve done multi-day trips in Australia, Germany, Laos, Vietnam, Latvia, Estonia, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, and I’ve always rented bikes. It’s convenient to step off a bike at the end of a trip and not have to think about it — but they never fit (I’m super short), they’re always heavy, and they’re usually too-bouncy mountain bikes.
I’ve been thinking about it since my trip in Australia in December, where I really didn’t like the bike I’d rented. But the idea took root when I went out on my road bike for the first (and only)) time about three weeks ago and encountered massively broken post-winter roads. It’s been a nasty, brutish spring with only a few warm, sunny days. (Note I’m wearing a jacket on May 29).
I’m going on an 8 day trip in Newfoundland in a month with Sam and Susan (and David and Sarah, who don’t blog here, but who make cameos), and Newfoundland weather is notoriously unforgiving. I have a vision of broken, gravelly, wet roads and General Unpleasantness. After deking around potholes with a lot of anxiety on my road bike, I realized it’s time for German engineering.
Yesterday I took it out for its first real ride, on the 30km (total) out and back from my house that includes the 2 km Brimley hill at the Scarborough bluffs.
It’s beautiful. I’m getting used to the gears (same shifters for up and down, with different clicks), and the handlebar height isn’t right yet. I sailed down the completely pitted, pot-holed, cracked Brimley road with impunity, almost cackling out loud at the way that the fat tires just absorbed the road.
In moments, I was 7 again, learning to ride a bike by being released over and over down a gravelly, hilly road in a German campground by my dad, no doubt holding a Rothman’s and a beer. By the end of that weekend, gravel in my knees, I’d learned how to ride, and my little blue german folding bike let 7 and 8 year old me sail away to free-range independence, disappearing down little roads in a country where I didn’t speak the language for hours at a time.
Bikes still do that for me, transform me into an explorer, navigating countries where I don’t speak the language with confidence.
This German bike isn’t blue — there were only two X-S in all of Canada, one blue and one green, and the blue one came in damaged. This one is a lovely forest green. And after only one 30km ride, she feels like a part of me.
Now if only I could get a leeetle more riding in so that first 90 km day in Gros Mourne doesn’t kill me.
Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who lives and rides in Toronto and blogs here twice a month.