Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Being a member of an active NZ Cycling Forum I’ve noticed that cyclists tend towards rather tribal behaviour. The roadies flock together in great bunches, and have secret and esoteric rules that must be obeyed. Their legs and machines are smooth and glistening and many will have a stable a different road bikes for different occasions.

Even more complicated is the mountain biker, whose tribe seems to fracture into more sub tribes with each passing year. There are the XC racers, sneered at by others as weight weenies and jeiboys. The trail and backcountry adventurers. The freeriders and their cousins the Downhillers, which contain within their ranks the infinitely mockable grommies. The jumpers and the urban trials riders. The relatively new tribe of 29ers.
Then there are those that fall into what I’ll call the hipster tribe. The singlespeeders, with their flair for the insane. The fixie riders. The tweed riders. The frocks on bikes women. The whole vintage/retro brigade, including the loonies on Penny Farthings.

Of course amongst all these tribes there are the crossover tribes, the cyclo-cross riders, the cycle tourers, the BMXers and of course the singlespeeders must be mentioned here.

Then finally lowest on the pecking order the recumbent riders.

Often the bicycles in your shed define your tribes and (sweeping and unfounded generalisation warning here) most cyclists will only have one or two types of bikes, even if their total number of bicycles numbers in the double digits. For some, their personality becomes an expression of their collection of bikes, for other their bicycles are an expression of their personality. I believe the last is true of me.

My shed contains 6 bicycles, all different, all ridden regularly and all make me grin. I have my BMX which makes me feel like a kid again and is stupidly fun. I have my singlespeed mountain bike which has taught me how to ride better and made me stronger. I love its simplicity. I have my road bike, which to be honest is more of a winter bike, although I do love the feeling of speed and power I get from riding it. I have my full sus XC bike which is still my favourite. It climbs like a dream, is awesome on the singletrack and can handle the downhill stuff too. I have my newest acquisition, my hardtail 29er. This bike handles completely differently from all my other bikes, it is insanely fast and a challenge to ride. And finally I have my Duchess, my shopping bike. It is this bike that I ride the most. It is my car. It makes me feel free, happy and something none of my other bikes do, attractive. Strange I know. It is this bike that is leading me down a path which will mean my statement that I have attained s-1 is wrong, but more on that later.

Firstly a quick replay of the awesome ride I had on Friday at Greenwood Park before the blasting and earthquake remediation on the road up there closes it for easy access. (It is open Sundays and in the evening from 6pm). My first lap was a bit of a muppet fest to be honest, but it was great fun and by the bottom of the track I was keen for another lap. The ride up the Summit Rd is both lovely, with no traffic, and in one place quite scary, with a badly cracked rock face looming above – waiting to deposit a boulder or two on the slow rider’s head.
Not only does Greenwood Park have outstanding singletrack, the views are exceptional

The second lap was much better. The thing about Greenwood Park is that it is a lovely combination of flowing stuff and really rocky technical stuff. Only recently have I gotten good enough to ride it, previously I freaked out about the rocks instead of just keeping pedalling. I’ve discovered Greenwood Park is a mind game, everything (well apart from one rocky uphill pinch at the end that I have no idea how to ride) is rideable.
In the beginning there was a climb
After my second lap I was getting cold and having pushing my legs harder up the road my tummy was grumbling. It was just what I needed.
Ahhh, tricksy narrow rocks, you won't catch me again!

Then on Sunday, I crossed a line. On Friday, when not riding, I spent most of the day in various op-shops (pining for the quality ones in Dunedin), sussing out an outfit for a Tweed Ride. I was in two minds about going on this ride, firstly I didn’t know anyone else in this group of velocipedes (velococycsts? velotweeds?) , I always find new people intimidating; and secondly I’d been warning that joining this ride could well be a slippery slope to further bike ownership. Putting these worries aside I donned what I hoped was an appropriately period styled if not entirely tweedish outfit and cycled off on my lovely Duchess to the nearby meeting place.
A Cheesecutter is the equivilent of a helmet

I was immediately welcomed into the group, and I really shouldn’t have worried. After all I had in common with these people a love of bicycles, a love of dressing up and a love of things from a bygone area. After chatting and drooling over the many simply beautiful and sometimes amusing bicycles, we were off.
I lusted muchly over these two bikes in particular, with the one on the right being my favourite by a nose

It was a wonderfully leisurely ride through the park, with the crowds entering the Ellerslie Flower Show seeming to appreciate our dapper appearance and glorious machines. On through town we were momentarily halted by the ever shifting road closures and then it was onto Pomeroy’s via the broken riverside roads for some well earned refreshments. I took mine in the form of Pimms, a most civilised drink before noon on a Sunday. Revitalised it was back onto the bikes and onto the Pegasus Arms for yet more refreshment and then off to Hagley Park for a brief, but energetic turn of speed in the form of a sprint race round the outside. I have to say my Duchess performed admirably, and was only really hampered by my need to hold my skirt down while pedalling vigorously.

The Tweed riders collection is quite diverse..

... and lust provoking

After such exertions it was back to our starting spot for the obligatory photos and more talking of the cod shite. I enjoyed this ride immensely and can say that I have been fully converted to the joy of the Tweed Ride by this single outing. In fact I have been trawling the pages of Trademe seeking an appropriate old bike to turn into a singlespeed to race at the velodrome for the next ride. Thanks so much to the Tweed Riders for welcoming me into your group. Such Fun!
Racing time!
Refueled and ready to ride

And to round off this rather lengthy diatribe here is a gorgeous photo of my monster’s black jelly bean feets. I just want to nom them.

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