Apologies to anyone reading this who isn’t an avid cyclist. The next few paragraphs may seem like comedy to you, but I assure you it’s not. You see, I want to explore the rather profound relationship between a rider and their bicycle.
These days I’m not too embarrassed to say my CLX is an extension of who I am. It really is. Like many others, I spend hundreds of hours with my carbon steed every year, travelling to all corners of Sydney and far beyond. It’s a passport to amazingly beautiful places, wonderful friendships and – touch wood – the best health I’ve had since high school.
Sure, it isn’t quite the same as an equestrian rider and his or her horse, a living breathing thing. But it’s close. Travelling at speeds upwards of 50-80km/h, you put your life in its hands on every ride. You look after it. And it will look after you. On the (thankfully rare) occasions when I can’t ride for several days due to work, health or family matters, I miss it and feel a sense of loss that’s often hard for outsiders to understand. But if you ride, you’ll know what I mean. Melancholy is a cyclist unable to cycle.
Given the amount of time we spend together with our bikes, it’s hardly surprising we quickly get to know every centimetre, every quirk, every flaw – from the pressure in our tyres to the height of our seat posts and everywhere in between. Not dissimilar to being married, even the slightest behaviour change is immediately noticed. “Everything alright dear?” Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn’t. But we always notice.
Maintenance rituals are truly cathartic. A painstaking and intimate process that, whilst not always pleasant, always delivers a deep sense of satisfaction when completed as you marvel at a gleaming cassette and chain, or perfectly taped handlebars. These things can also make you go faster, a nice added bonus.
Of course, like the rest of our humble existences, nothing is forever. One day the time will no doubt come to say goodbye to your beloved bicycle. Possibly it will linger on in the garage or back room if your budget allows you to keep it, replaced in the two-wheeled pecking order by something newer, lighter, stiffer. Maybe you’ll scrap it, so it can live on as parts on future journeys. Or perhaps, like my past bikes, it will go entirely via the ignominy of eBay or, worse, to a hipster wannabe at a Saturday morning garage sale. These are bittersweet days. But don’t be sad. Be happy for all those great kilometres you had together. It’ll be okay.