I don’t really see myself as a cyclist. I am just a woman who rides a bicycle, or at least that is how this all started. The average speed of a car in Edinburgh in 7.6mph, and the average speed I get on my Brompton, in the city, is somewhere around 9.5mph, just above 10mph on a good day. This depends on the route, and on the weather, and what mood I’m in. I tend to go faster when I’ve got the hump about something.
Getting around Edinburgh is, therefore, quicker on a bicycle. Sure it’s got its disadvantages; helmet hair if you wear one and a windswept look if you don’t, you might get a little bit moist although there’s nothing wrong with a quick dash to the bathroom for a wet-wipe and a squirt of deodorant, but it’s cheaper, quicker, cleaner, and a lot more fun than sitting in traffic. It has the added bonus of improving your health and the health of the planet too. Providing nobody knocks you off your bike of course.
If you want to read about my life on my Brompton then I have a sister blog devoted to just that at girlonabrompton.blog
However, things have somewhat progressed in a new direction of late. And I mean late, as in this weekend just gone. You see I turned 50 last Wednesday, a big milestone of course, and instead of having a midlife crisis desire for a sports car and a toy-boy, I had a desire for a road bike and a Chinese takeaway. (As we are still in the Covid19 lockdown, in Scotland, a takeaway is a real treat).
I was a very lucky gal you see; I have generous friends and lovers. I also had just had a wee clear out on a well known auction site. Although a chunk of this went on bills, I really wanted something to show for my 50th. It is a half century so I figured I deserved it. I didn’t want just anything though, I wanted something that would bring more to me than the object itself. I am not a material person, I prefer to have experiences and create memories than fill a house with objects.
My friends think I’m very odd because I’ve never owned a TV, but I’d rather see it and smell it, touch it and taste it, for myself than watch some overpaid presenter do it.
I have not been in Edinburgh that long, and so I also want to make some new friends here. From 2004 until 2018 I lived in the Highlands, and I’ve found meeting new people in Edinburgh, with the same interests, quite difficult.
Whilst out on my Brompton I go overtaken by the Breeze ride girls, and since then they have been encouraging me through various social media encounters to join them on a ride. I was put off before because they’d overtaken me a few times and I knew I couldn’t have kept up on my Brompton. I know they will slow to the pace of the slowest rider, but I didn’t want to be the slowest rider. It’s vanity…I know.
Anyway, I had also been planning some trips for myself whilst stuck here at home. I have been looking at Sustrans maps, guidebooks, and website. I fancy some things like riding out from Edinburgh to the Kelpies at Falkirk, and maybe one day tackling the Coast & Castle (South) long distance multi-day ride. I could do these things on a Brompton, but it would be easier on a touring bike.
There is of course also the cyclists theory; the number of bikes that should be owned by a cyclist is N+1 where N is the number of bikes currently owned.
All these factors combined around my 50th, and so I went out to look for a touring bike. I came back with this:
Excuse her being a bit mucky, I’d just rode her home in the rain.
Yes, I know, it’s not a touring bike. It’s a road bike, and a nice 2014 Specialized Ruby Triple at that. She’s a 9.5kg carbon road beast as she sits in this photo, she could be lighter with different tyres, but Gatorskin’s are supposed to be puncture resistant so they’re staying on from my experience of cycling in Edinburgh.
Fitted with a Sora groupset, which I understand is quite good, she has 27 gears so she should make mincemeat of the hills in Edinburgh and I need all the help I can get. She should also be great for 50mile rides, once I’m fit enough, and much more beside.
Riding Tuesday* is very different from riding the Brompton. For starters, it’s easier to go a lot quicker, and the riding position is different. There’s a lot more feel to what the bike is doing and every little movement brings a response. It is both un-nerving and exciting at the same time.
I am very excited to ride her, and now she’s had a decent wash and I’ve cleaned and lubed the chain with my preferred dry lube.
She is a real stunner, and I feel I might have to make a bit more of an effort to dress the part. This is part excuse to go shopping, part long distance practicality and ride comfort. I am an advocate of cycling in your normal clothes, jumping on the bike for every trip in town you can, and even not wearing a helmet away from traffic when we have safe segregated infrastructure, but I’m planning proper cycling now, so maybe I’m destined to be a cyclist (like my Dad) and not just a ‘woman on a bicycle’.
Yes Dad, I’m finally turning into a proper cyclist. I watched the whole of the Tour de France last year, you’d have been proud.
(My Dad was a climber and converted the spotted jersey, we watched the Tour when I was a kid, and I suspect his spirit lurks around the mountains of the Tour more than anywhere else).
*from the song Ruby Tuesday, by The Rolling Stones.