Yes, I know it’s a bit of a blindingly obvious title, but please stay with me. When it comes to bikes my view has always been spend as much as you can manageably afford, as I genuinely believe you get what you pay for. Shop around and buy smart, so if your budget is £500 spend it well and get the best bike you can for your cash. If your budget’s £5k and you can afford to spend the money then do, I doubt very much you’ll regret it. Of course there are plenty of people out there who’d disagree with me I’m sure, but having ridden a number of bikes are both ends of those price points I know which end I’d spend at, as long as I could spare the money. I’ve enjoyed my riding much more on a great bike and it’s encouraged me to do more riding too.
There’s also no doubt I’ve also ridden faster on my most expensive bike and kept up on rides where I wouldn’t have on my cheapest bike but …. and it’s an important but …. My £5k bike doesn’t and never will turn me into a great rider on it’s own and neither would doubling or tripling my budget again. The law of diminishing returns applies. However my best bike just massively increases my enjoyment of the getting out and riding.
Last weekend I was lucky enough to go and join Mark Tearle’s La Doyenne du Eastbourne adventure with a 50 mile social road ride followed by a few hours in the Belgian café in Eastbourne where I was also extremely pleased to meet Twitter legend @festinagirl. You can read the write up on the day here: http://30daysofbiking.com/blog/?p=268 (I’m in the middle of the group photo in my blue Gore Phantom jacket if you’re in the slightest bit interested).
On the ride I met Simon Wicks (@thefixedfactor) who I’ve been following on twitter for sometime. Simon’s a lovely guy and was definitely one of the strongest riders on the day. On the climbs in particular he pretty much smoked most of us. Fortunately it was only a social ride. Not content with simply doing a 50 mile group ride, Simon had ridden down to Eastbourne from Surrey first (another 60miles), as the trains were not going to work for him to get to the start on time. It was a fine effort.
Whilst riding and chatting with Simon I asked about his bike, which is the 2008 model Cervelo R3 featured in the pictures – a good bike and a bit of a modern classic in many respects. What was especially good to see about Simon’s bike (apart from the pace he rode the thing) was that it looked exactly how the designers would have loved to see it after this period of time. It looked like it had been really well looked after but ridden well and often. It looked like a bike that could tell you some great stories from climbing cols in France and Spain to many, many miles through the rolling English country side. I thought it looked terrific and I hope that in another few years time my Alize will look as well used and well loved for as Simon’s bike.
That’s the long winded point of this post – once you’ve got your great bike – it’s the riding it that’s the most important thing and the more miles and use and wear and tear the better. Cycling’s an honest sport in the respect that ultimately good bike or bad bike you can’t hide behind your form on the road each day and ultimately you’re only competing against yourself (unless you’re racing). If you’re not riding well it shows and vice versa. To that point I asked Simon what the secret of his good climbing was and it was refreshingly simple: Ride lots of hills. Simon regularly rides loops with a minimum of 1800m of climbing in 80 miles, including a mixture of short punchy climbs as well as longer draggier ones. Funnily enough over time he’s got really good at climbing doing this.
From time to time I get too carried away by my bike tech, whether it better or lighter bikes and components as I love all of it. But it’s great and important to be reminded from time to time that even with a fantastic bike and set up – most of all you’ve got to keep those miles clocking up as that’s where the real joy of cycling is always found.
Thanks for reading and thanks Simon for the photos