This is one of the most inspirational pictures I’ve come across. Its adorns the greeting page of Vintage Bicycle Press an excellent magazine about randonneuring. It says many things to me, but one thing stands out very clearly, you can reach some of the most spectacular places by bike. That’s Paulette Porthault ascending a pass, I’d imagine, somewhere in the Alps in the 40′s. The lightness of their load, the fatness of their tires, the road condition, all make me wish I were on that trip at that point in time.
This is what riding a bike is for me. This is why I’m inspired to build bikes that don’t stop if the pavement ends, or it gets dark, or it rains. All of these things are very common when exploring. The grades of the roads are steeper than expected. You’re running low on food and you’re getting more and more tired. It’s taking way longer than it should. The schizophrenic weather patterns pushed a little storm onto you for the last half-hour. But you’re prepared, or at least your bike is. Lights to light up the coming of night, tires that absorb the less than ideal road condition you’ve found yourself on and are light and quick even on the freshest roads, fenders to at least keep you clean and mostly dry (you still have to worry about the stuff falling down on you) and a bit of luggage to tackle the range of weather that can happen in the mountains.
I’m working on my next bike and its coming along rather slowly. I still have to hold down a real job, train for brevets, and enjoy my family life. I’m also machining parts and fixtures to inevitably make the process a bit more quick all of which take time. In a couple of weeks I’m venturing out on the SIR Mountain 600k. I hope that the route is as inspiring as this picture (it likely will be). I’m stoked, and so far, not nervous about the ride in spite of this being my longest distance, and the sheer amount of climbing that the course consumes. But I’ve prepared the best that time allows and, if nothing more, then I’ll have an epic 30 hours (or more) on the bike.