That is right. Cycling is a dreamworld. The sportive cyclists, the racers, the club riders, or even the tight-jean hipsters skidding all over for the hell of it are in a fantasy world. Even I am in a fantasy world. Being able to spend ten hours or more of your week on a bicycle worth more than many people’s cars is a world apart from everything else.
There is a broad difference between what we would consider a typical cyclist and the typical bike owner. From an outside realization, most people see bicycles as toys or things meant to rust out in the back yard. You can thank that all bicycles have been sold in the toy section of department and big-box stores for as long as I can remember. Bicycles have been relegated as something to look down upon. (This could spark a whole week worth of posts)
I decided to take a ride around town and see if I could find any examples of any serious or utilitarian bikes or cyclists; here is what I found.
Buckhannon is a college town. There would of course be bicycles. The ones here were all low budget department store bicycles left out in the elements all semester which make me wonder why they were brought to campus in the first place. There were no outstanding specimens or anything I could say anything special about in concerns of the usefulness of the bike.
These two bicycles were locked up to the patio of a local business. Once again, nothing really outstanding about these bicycles… The Schwinn is roughly a $200 bike, with Shimano Tourney products. This bike is worth noting since it is a department store bike that reaches that upper-end price range that nears that level where you know it will be a reliable product.
I took this shot on some old man’s porch. He has more drop-bar bikes than anyone else in town. Most of them are lower-end, but terribly reliable. It seems he still does some store riding or something with that folding basket setup. One of his bikes even had a sturmey-archer 3spd hub.
Another example of a family’s bicycle pile locked up to something to rust to junk. I see helmets and a baby rack on the back of one of the bikes, but I’m not sure this means anything.
This was the creme-de-la-creme of the day. A french Peugeot mixte frame with mafac brakes, handlebar turned backwards (for length?) and drop bar brakes for a reverse style lever. This Peugeot also had a rear wheel dynamo attachment with a front and rear light. Someone knew what is up when they made this. I mean… look at that rack. Rubbermaid makes panniers? Hey… it works and is quite utilitarian. This bike has a lot of charm.
My spin around town futher makes me realize that people on sporty bikes strapped with GPS and what not are actually the fringe group of cyclists. Not everyone is going to wear lycra, and most definitely not everyone is going to buy a four figure bike. I do it because it is what I enjoy, so maybe I shouldn’t skoff at others for what they enjoy. I just find it sad that people could easily be pedaling 3-5x faster than they could walk, and become more fit by doing so. What will it take to find that perfect harmony between cyclosportive type and the walmart bicycle-like-product? I think if people had a good bike, and saw the benefits that it could open up to them, it would really change the outside viewpoint of cycling and make it become a reality for everyone. I have also come to understand that I enjoy my dreamworld, and challenge people to join me.