Anyone familiar with the legendary British Sitcom “Only Fools and Horses” will remember the scene when Trigger was being rewarded by the council for his work sweeping the streets. He was proud of having the same broom all these years.
The punchline? It had twelve new handles and six new heads. I can’t remember the exact numbers but you get the point.
My Cannondale Synapse is very much analogous to that famous broom. It was my first road bike and I have been riding it for six years. Sure it has had new chains, derailleurs, brakes, wheels and bar tape but in essence it is the same bike. Strava tells me that the bike has done 14,027km in that time and that is not including my pre-Strava days when I started cycling or do those not count in today’s world.
Those thousands of kilometers have all been on the punishing roads of Scotland through rain and shine. This bike has now found a new lease of life since I stopped using it to commute to work and it has been shipped to Croatia so that I can have some time to cycle there when my partner and her twin sister want to gossip. See my blog on how the bike was shipped for anyone that is thinking of doing something similar in the future.
Anyway, back to the bike. When I bought it, I had no idea about road bikes except for some rudimentary research and was short of time to get one as I only had few days onshore before getting the chopper back to the rig. Inevitably I made a few basic errors but driving my decision was the fact that I felt it would be foolish to spend an obscene amount of money for something that I had no idea how much I would use. The fourteen thousand odd kilometers tell a different story obviously but at the time there was every chance that I would use the bike for my trip through Scotland and then it would gather dust in my flat as work took over my life.
My first mistake was buying a bike with a triple chain set. Even when I bought the bike in 2012, these were pretty much obsolete, being replaced by the much more efficient compact double. I rarely if ever used the granny gear and setting-up a front triple derailleur to shift properly require the patience of a monk.
My second mistake was buying a white bike in Scotland for reasons that should be obvious, particularly for those who have ever owned a white car.
But for all its flaws I bloody love that bike and it has given me so much pleasure over the years.
Like a retired couple, it has now gone to live out the rest of its days in the Croatian sun. One day it will have to be put down, its vital organs donated to other projects, but for now it will roam the Croatian roads.
Cannondale SuperSix Evo
Every cyclist knows that the perfect number of bikes is n+1, where n is your present number of bikes.
As I got more and more serious about cycling I started to lust after a better bike, something light, something stiff, something beautiful. Something shiny. Something pro.
Learning from my mistakes when I purchased my first road bike I set out to do the research and get the best bike for my budget which at the time was certainly not unlimited due to the impending arrival of my first son.
In the end I settled for a Cannondale SuperSix Evo and got a bargain in the end of season sales by buying the bike online. I know this is anathema to those who say we should support the local bike shop but this offer was too good to miss. A bike that would not be out of place in the pro-peloton with full Ultegra group set for just under £1300. I felt no compulsion to switch from Cannondale and because I was buying the bike online I felt more comfortable with the sizing based on my other Cannondale.
Apart from the lightness and stiffness of the carbon frame, the biggest differentiator compared to my standard day-to-day bike was the smoothness of the Ultegra group set. It just works when you need it to work and is super-smooth.
It is the sort of bike that is always clean since there is no better feeling than starting a ride on a gleaming bike with a well lubed chain. It is also barely ridden in winter in an effort to protect it from the demands of the Scottish weather and roads. I love it so much that I want to protect it from the hardships in life.
Sometimes I keep it indoors so that I can look at it much to my partner’s dismay.
Peugeot Upgrade to Single Speed
In an impulsive moment to both be a hipster and to get my hands dirty I scoured the local ads for a bike that could be bought on the cheap and turned into a single speed. There was no logic behind it except that as a mechanical engineer I like to dismantle things and put them back together even more so nowadays that I am stuck behind a desk.
I severely overestimated the amount of free time that I would have to work on it given that I have two young sons and so at the moment the extent of the upgrade has been to dismantle the bike right back to its component parts and make a half-hearted attempt to sand down the frame to its bare metal.
At the moment it lies in pieces in my garage waiting for the day when I have more time to devote to creating this hipster’s dream. Eventually there will be a link here to the trials and tribulations of the reassembly and what it is like to ride a single speed in a hilly part of the world.