An Ode to Commuter Bikes
For someone like me, who doesn’t own a car, a bicycle is essential. Thanks to this old, battered machine that I found neglected in the basement of our family home, ( It belonged to my grandfather) I have experienced some of the best moments of my life! I’ve seen examples of magnificent nature, breathtaking views and postcard-like villages. I have managed to experienced some crazy adventures that I wouldn’t even have dared to dream when I was younger, thanks to a bike that is probably worth only half the price of a decent, modern saddle!
However, that is not the point I want to make in this article. What I want to talk about is the everyday side of cycling, the daily ride to work, to the market or the bakery, loading your shopping bags and coming back home, this kind of ordinary experience.
Perhaps we never really appreciate our bicycle in every day life. If you have chosen to be car-free, you won’t need me to tell you how much you have gained from making this change. If you use a bicycle you will know the difference it can make in a person’s life. In my case, I think it would depress me if I had to go back to using a car to go to work. The other day I visited a city in which roads were so narrow and so full of vehicles that it would make cycling there almost impossible. I felt depressed at the thought of it, as I stood and watched the traffic. Normally, I would not stop for a second to appreciate my wonderful routine of undoing my bicycle padlock, hopping on the saddle and coasting silently on the road to work. But this thought of living in a city that cycling is impossible made me appreciate the routine and the daily boring rituals of cycling.
If you cycle a lot you may get the feeling that your bicycle is an extension of your body, like mechanical limbs, perhaps. It looks like you just roll along instead of walking as though the bike were your legs! Sometimes you may find your hands pulling the brakes and saving your life without you even being involved in the thought process. You learn to live with the hazards: the slippery roads on rainy days, absent minded pedestrians, maniac drivers or motorists that run over red lights and ignore stop signs. You begin to accept cars braking without warning, car doors open suddenly, noise, fumes and distractions. Your bicycle makes you glad to be alive giving you a sense of freedom and happiness everytime you spring onto the saddle to go to work.
Selling a bicycle that has served you for years and years may feel like betraying your best friend!
What is a Commuter bike?
Can you use your expensive carbon commuter bicycle to ride to work?
The answer is “No!” for many obvious reasons. In my opinion the ideal commuter bike is an old, clapped-up bike that doesn’t look valuable and it isn’t worth much, but it can be maintained and adjusted to your needs. Especially if you built it yourself and you know every nut and screw on it. This is important because if something go wrong, you will be able to fix it, hopefully on the spot. Also, due to its appearance you won’t need to worry so much about thieves.
At first it may feel awkward and clumsy compared to the lightweight aluminium bike, but after you have ridden it for a few hundred kms, it will feel like a magic carpet under your feet!