Cyclists are not monogamists. N+1 dictates this. The desire to add to our harem never diminishes. End of year sales. Boredom. The need to protect our best bike(s). Bike porn. Ooh, shiny shiny.
Yet we’re in two minds when it comes to the choice of hiring a bike or taking our better halves with us when we travel, especially if that means taking our bike on the plane. Eeek! We want the perfect fit and the reliance of our trusted love yet there’s that nagging image in the back of our minds. You know the one. A team of baggage handlers moshing on top of your bike before they load it onto the plane.
It was with such fears that I decided to hire a road bike on a recent cycling holiday in Majorca. I found the perfect matchmaking site at Pro Cycle Hire, where it was easy to choose a new bride made to measure. Body, size, pedals and gears chosen, all I had to do was show for our first date.
The holiday romance
Hiring a road bike for the week gave me the chance to experiment. An aluminium enthusiast, I went carbon for the first time. We met in a darkened bike shop down a quiet back alley, the illicit affair beginning with a few early morning whispers. Paperwork signed, she* was all mine, waiting for my loving touch, purring in anticipation.
*other genders of bicycle are available
Back out in the shadows of the street, I carefully caressed my new love, not quite sure how our holiday romance would play out. I climbed on and was certain I had heard a voice snipe, “cheater” it chanted from a darkened corner. We set off slowly, my new ride temperamental, demanding my attention and forcing me to learn her ways. Handle with care.
The fit was awkward at first, good but not quite right as we wobbled down the road, first time lovers fumbling in the dark. It takes time. You need to work at a good marriage. Before long the confidence grows and with it the desire to try new things. Descents, no handed, hitting corners fast and low. It’s then that you know, you just know, that this is a girl you can commit to.
Carbon bikes – nice body shame about the face
OK, so I’m a little late to the carbon party and I’m at the bottom end of the market with the Massi Team Carbon. The shape and smooth curves of the frame are a thing of beauty, holes kept to a minimum, cables neatly tucked away. You feel more aero just by staring at its sleek lines.
Carbon frames make you want to touch them. They are sexy. Well they would be if they weren’t dressed like a whore. The designers responsible for the paint jobs must be the very same people responsible for Culture Club album covers.
Subtle, they are not. No matter how well the bike rode, I knew I could not fall for this painted lady, this 80s throwback with go faster lines. It was like taking a Ford Capri out for a spin; all I needed was my girlfriend’s name etched on the left lens of my sunglasses, my own name on the right lens.
The ride – pressing all of the right buttons?
Responsive. Standing up to attack a hill climb, the bike sprang forward beneath me. Was this the bike or the super light, go-faster wheels? Hard to know. Vibrations were something of a surprise. I’ve never quite experienced numb, er, you know, bits, quite like it. Carbon frames are supposed to absorb the road so perhaps the saddle was to blame. The seat had one of those inexplicable holes in the middle. Insert joke here.
The Campagnolo gears were OK. A Campag virgin, I really liked the downshift button, which made me feel like a Formula 1 driver every time I changed gear. Click, click, click. Precision was sometimes lacking but this is to be expected on a hire bike equipped with cheaper gears than my own.
But my oh my did she moan. Nag, nag, nag whenever I wanted to take it easy. The bike was equipped with one of those irritatingly extra noisy freehubs on the back wheel, which tick loudly whenever you stop pedalling. The constant buzz destroyed the silence of a good ride. There could be no coasting in this relationship.
The verdict – filing for a divorce
Hiring a bike is wonderful. That tingle of excitement, the butterflies in the belly, the promise of something new and exotic. On this occasion however, I was not smitten. Lust it turns out, is not love. The sordid little affair made me appreciate the beauty I have back home. It certainly was a memorable holiday romance but the wife back home has nothing to worry about.
Oh, hello darling, I’m back. Mmmm, you’re looking mighty fine if I don’t say so myself.
Fancy a ride?