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The Essence of Cycling?(18 posts)

The Essence of Cycling?Blue Crown Jewel
Jan 30, 2003 6:04 AM
Reading through the many threads, I cannot help but notice that they tend to repeat themselves, the themes invariably turn to lighter weight, stiffest bottom bracket, Dura-Ace vs. Chorus/Record, etc. etc.

Which has me thinking that there must be something else to cycling besides the lightest, stiffest, smoothest, gadget that captures a cyclist's imagination.

In my case I have an Independent Fabrication Crown Jewel from 2001. It was custom made and has a full Chorus group with a Record crank. It is a metallic blue with white panels on the seat tube and the down tube and the kind folks at IF sent me decals with the word "Chimera" to put on the top tube.

I looked long and hard for the bicycle, captivated by the aura of steel. I loved the straight blade steel fork, the silly looking IF logo on the chainstays, the classic look of the painted panels. I love the artistic lines of the Record crank, poetry in motion I like to call it. And I love the feel of the shifters and their funky paddles. I love the little key holes on the inner levers and was pretty indifferent to the carbon levers of the Record group. My bicycle has simple Chorus hubs with French Blue Open Pro rims, nothing outstanding, but it all looks so beautiful together.

I suppose I am rambling, but for a change I wanted to see some other reasons why people would ride and be obsessed with their bicycles. Maybe it is the purity of form, the elegance in the lines, the classic shape of the double diamond design without a slopping top tube.

Mind you, there are some other delectable and classy bicycles I would like to have (Oh, the one Eddy Merckxx that Spirito posted, a classic celeste Bianchi, the single speed Cannondale track bicycle, the new Bianchi single speed track frame, the Look 381i(I am always warry of which is the right numerical designation) in matte black, one of those fine titanium bikes from Seven, and others I am sure I am missing). But despite these desires, the Crown Jewel keeps me happy every time I ride it, I learn something new about the bike, the road I am on, the scenery I am passing by.

Kind regards,
re: The Essence of Cycling?theeatkins
Jan 30, 2003 6:43 AM
For me, the bike is the means to the end. I ride a Calfee with Mavic Mechtronic powertrain. It's both unusual and
lightweight. I roll on Corima Aero tubular wheels. Again, unusual and lightweight. But what really gets me going
is that I can get home from work, jump on the bike and find myself 50 miles away exploring new roads and ways
to get from point A to point B. I love the solitude and the comaraderie. If I see someone having problems, I will
always ask if I can help. If I'm by the side of the road for whatever reason, someone always asks me if they can
help. I love things mechanical, and am always tinkering and polishing. But my ride is just a means to an end.
Ride On~
re: The Essence of Cycling?teoteoteo
Jan 30, 2003 7:06 AM
I have to agree. For me it is about being out. It is my peace and quiet. Whether I am commutting on my new "frankenbike" or out for nice ride on my OCLV.

Don't get me wrong I love my bikes. My shop co-workers laugh at the frenquecy with which I deal bikes. From the first time I wandered from home at age 6 cycling has been my sport. My dad says it was even before that. He was a motorcycle guy that would take my older brothers. I was too young and could only have a big wheel.

According to the stories I should be a pro on the Norba downhill circuit. He used to worry that bikes would be a waste of my time and a distraction. My old stepmother used to force me into Tennis and Golf lessons becuase she swore
that "When your 30 you can't go ride bikes and make business deals while you do it."

By the time I was 30 my business deals all revolved around bikes and though I was not a millionaire I was in my element. Everytime I publish an article now or put my soul into a piece of a cycling related work I think about the path I have chosen.

I don't shine with confidence over any other subject, only bicycles. It only needs to get me out to make me happy. It is my world.
A bike is just a tool.MB1
Jan 30, 2003 6:49 AM
The essence of a bike is not what it is but what it does.

Take that bike of yours and ride it in the worst conditions you can find. Don't clean anything but the drivetrain. Lock it to a parking meter in the city. Throw it in the back of a pickup truck with 5 other bikes. Do this for a few years.

Now get out and ride.
I love what everyone has said, but must also agree with youTig
Jan 30, 2003 8:38 AM
Everyone who has responded so far with their words on cycling and bikes has crystallized my feelings. However, I must agree with you when you say, "The essence of a bike is not what it is but what it does." As much as I love the mechanical beauty and elegance of a bicycle, the mere act of just riding is the true essence. Put me on any bike (except for something that is Barbie pink or is way over or under sized) that functions well and I'll have a great time. I think that goes for all of us as well.

I'm sure I'll keep enjoying the pleasures of a finely crafted precision bicycle, but I'll never lose the pure and simple enjoyment of riding. Maybe the single speed has taught me something much deeper than just improved fitness.

I'd still have a difficult time thowing this baby in the back of a truck with 5 bikes!
What are those rims?Alex-in-Evanston
Jan 30, 2003 8:44 AM
Those are very handsome.

The rims are wood. Richard Moon's personal fixed gear bike.Tig
Jan 30, 2003 8:57 AM
a trophy bike, not ridden? nmDougSloan
Jan 30, 2003 9:03 AM
Free your mind and your life will follow.MB1
Jan 30, 2003 8:50 AM
Pour a can of 30W over that thing and take it off road. ;-)
re: The Essence of Cycling?manicoti
Jan 30, 2003 7:38 AM
I ride a blue Klein Quantum Race (2001) and while it may not be as nice or expensive as alot of the beautiful bikes I see posted, I love it and how I feel when I ride. I feel faster, stronger, leaner, and better when I'm on a bike, and maybe it's wrong, but I do get a superiority complex about being a cyclist. I've only been riding for a few years and I'm sure that as I mature I will feel differently, but I enjoy how I feel now. I know other athletes in other sports have the same bond, but it feels good knowing that I can feel pain and fatigue riding a bike, and pass some guy or girl on a bike going the other way and know that they have probably felt the same at some point or another. After a good ride it feels cathartic, and I like being able to recapture that once and awhile.
Strange satisfaction...biknben
Jan 30, 2003 7:38 AM
I ride for many reasons but recently I've been getting a strange satisfaction out of making what people think is extraodinary seem ordinary. I guess I am fueled by the doubt of others.

Co-workers, family, strangers all think I'm a little strange because I don't hop in my car and go to the gym like everyone else. They think riding in rain, snow, cold, and heat is unimaginable.

This past week we had bitter cold weather. While dinning with friends the topic of my bike commuting to work came up. I mentioned I had riden in 4 days. A friend was baffled. She said she was reluctant to take the train to work because the walk from the car to the train was too long and cold (a couple minutes). While I just smiled and showed little emotion, I had this deep satisfaction that made it all seem worthwhile.
Unique, conscience altering activityContinental
Jan 30, 2003 8:01 AM
An addictive state of mind is reached through the rhythmic, sustained physical exertion, the visual stimulation of changing scenery, the exhilaration of speed, the pain, and the fatigue. The essence of cycling is the beauty and absurdity of a consciousness pedaling a bike for an infinitesmal blip in time on a tiny speck of dust in the vast universe. The shared experiences among cyclists ranging from Pro racers on custom bikes to weekend riders on hybrids binds us together as a community.
My Escapeabicirider
Jan 30, 2003 8:38 AM
For me riding racing, its my escape my Bike and I don't argue with each other, my mind is able to let go of any all daily pressures that have been placed on me. Like I have said before, you can take my car, my house, evertything else but you had better not touch my bikes.
Yea riding and racing is my escape and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Be safe out on the roads
Ray Still
Mooresville, NC
re: Each time I ride I feel part of a little miracle.dzrider
Jan 30, 2003 11:33 AM
I've never lost my sense of wonder about a bike, supporting a rider, on skinny little tires rolling down the road without falling over. I've never lost the feeling I had as a kid that my bike is what takes me away from my parents and school. I never got a new bike as a kid and I've never lost the joy of having a new toy when I get a new-to-me used bike. Topping a tough hill, flying down the other side, the last few miles of a long hard ride are still among my most satisfying moments.
re: The Essence of Cycling?rwbadley
Jan 30, 2003 12:36 PM
The essence of cycling varies for each person and circumstance.

It would be painful for me to imagine Moon's masterpiece being used as a donkey in southeast Asia. For some, a bike is a tool for work or conveyance, no more than that.

For others, (probably most of us here) the bike is not only conveyance; it reflects who we are, how we ride, and the artistry we appreciate.

Your Crown Jewel is a great ride and certainly one could lust for nothing more in a bike. But we all do! Gee, it would be fun to have a fixie, I really need a commuter, how about an mtb....Wow, look at that nice old Paramount!

Filling a need for transportation via bike is pretty easy (in our developed world). Human desire for something new and exciting are age old. Once we have the basics of food, clothing and shelter taken care of; we want more!

I am obsessed with the bike as a low cost, highly efficient, low emission means of transport.

I am obsessed with the feeling of freedom, accomplishment, and energy I get from riding.

I am obsessed with the bike as an art form ('tho some of my bikes may be attractive only to me). Seeing a gorgeous bike that is well ridden and well taken care of is highly satisfying.


I know there are many people that really just need a bike to haul the crop to market.

For me...funknuggets
Jan 30, 2003 1:09 PM
The essence of cycling is the cool breeze that meets you as you clip in and roll out of the garage in the morning.

It is showing up for the group ride and seeing a particular rider or riders that you know will put the hammer on, and being oddly excited about the impending pain.

It is stopping at a convenience store on a century for a drink and some curious customer asks where you rode from and see their jaw drop when you tell them a town 50+ miles away.

It is the quad-pumping thrill of waxing some teenager in his car in a series of stoplight sprints.

It is being able to see a fox or a mountain lion crossing the road ahead of you.

It is the confidence of cresting a mtn or completing a ride you had once considered too difficult.

It is the feel of a tailwind when you really need it.

It is the anticipation of seeing the box to the new frame finally arrive after weeks of wait.

It is the exhilariation of downhill turns that you take a little too fast for your comfort.

It is the excitement of finally riding into your driveway after far too long of a day in the saddle with a headwind all day.
Ride On!theeatkins
Jan 31, 2003 9:35 AM
I like the way you describe all of this. I would have to add some of my own, but you hit it pretty good. It is the feeling of rightness of a good crisp shift as you are pushing. Personally, it is the feeling of seeing a 20 something go off the front of the pack, and know you can go after him. And wax his butt up the next hill! And then have him say to me it won't happen again. Ego, I know. I have had it happen to me. It's as much "the engine" as the bike.
cycling to me...desert-rider
Jan 30, 2003 3:54 PM
-It's the shattered feeling after a long ride / race, where you just lay down on the cool tile in the kitchen and relish the exhausted feeling, knowing that you gave it all you could on the bike

-It's the 3-hour cruiser ride you take with close friends, chatting & catching up the whole way, just enjoying the company & scenery

-It's the epic day on the trails, then adjourning to a brew-pub, telling stories past & present, which somehow always brings us closer together

-It's a refuge from the world....when everything seems to be crashing down around me, I can take the bike out...and as the miles & effort pile up, I can get lost in the simplicity of whirling gears & moving pavement...almost a meditation. It never fails to ease my mind, and re-center everything. I guess the simple enjoyment makes me realize how useless many of my worries are

-It's also about feeling alive, the rush of adrenaline on a 56mph descent, the screaming legs & burning lungs of a mountain pass, of becoming more in touch with my physical side (after being a book-worm for high school & college, this still amazes me sometime...)