I’ve got this theory. If you think about the best two bikes that you’ve ever owned, and you have to choose one as the best, it won’t necessarily be the bike with the highest level of capability or highest cost that wins. This theory is not dedicated to the hard core cycling group either, because a lot of people have had bikes in their lives, and usually more than one, so they fall into the scope of my theory.
So, if you have to choose one bike out of all of them that you’ve owned, or borrowed perhaps, one will stand out as the most memorable, and for the right reasons. I believe that it is (usually, but not absolutely exclusively) because at some point during the ownership of a particular bike, you had one or more, really epic rides on it. Regardless of the bikes’ technology, capability, cost and overall good looks, it will be the memory of that epic ride that will make you look back fondly on that particular bike.
Let’s just understand what I mean by the term ‘epic ride’. A common definition, and one that I’m using, is that an epic ride is a ride that, like a long film or book, contains a lot of action, a journey, a challenge and life experience. The term epic is therefore usually about a historical subject, because in order to describe something as epic, you’ll no doubt be referring to a ride that has already taken place. You might want to plan an epic ride, but it doesn’t mean to say that you’ll get one. I went for the bread this morning on my bike. It was a great, early morning, spring ride through woodland that connects our village with another village that has the source of the great bread. Was it an epic ride? No.
As I’ve been cycling for some time and owned a lot of bikes along the way, I can recall a few epic rides. For example, my epic ‘100 miles in 5 hours’ event that I did on a cheap-ish Peugeot road race bike, and only achieved due to some slipstreaming of two fast men on a tandem half-way through the event, before they left me behind, some help with a ‘mechanical’ from another rider, and the post-event party. It was a rolling course and the weather was good, and I got a small mass-produced medal after crossing the finish line. Epic? Absolutely.
Another memorable one was on my first ever mountain bike (a Kona Lava Dome) and riding up a Welsh mountain in the snow, in January. It was so cold, that when I pulled out my ride nutrition (a Mars Bar), it broke perfectly in half like it was made of, well, very cold chocolate. It wasn’t easy to eat either, but I managed it. Climbing onto the monument at the summit realised the feature photo of this post, and of a ride that was epic, and fabulous memories of my Kona bike.
There’s a previous post that you can read here https://diaryofacyclingnobody.com/3-boys-3-bicycles-a-castle-and-a-great-mountain-in-wales/ that was an epic ride with two friends and on my Cannondale Super V mountain bike. Another epic ride was on my 1950s French Raphael Geminiani randoneur, on which I cycled from home to a ski resort 4 hours and one hell of a climb away, and in amazing scenery. I had just restored this bike and wanted to experience the old alpine cycle touring of the 1950s. My wife met me at the end of the ride and we had a picnic in the car as it was too bloody cold to sit outside. The experience of riding a bike with only 8 gears, 650B wheels, a ‘suicide front derailleur’ and one that came out of a shop new, nearly 70 years ago, was very epic.
I don’t limit my theory to just bikes either. It could be a car, a horse, a guitar, a sewing machine, a record or music track, or a book, or anything that has provided an amazingly, memorable experience. Something epic. The rides I mention above mean that whilst the Kona, the Cannondale and the randoneur haven’t been the most capable or expensive bikes I’ve ever owned, they are now locked into my memory as the most epic bikes. That makes them very special and with a strong, emotional link in my life.
As we’re always in search of the next best bike or whatever the object is, we usually end up selling the ‘epic ride bike’ to get an even better one, only to find that it isn’t, and never provides a ride as epic as the favourite did. This means that in the future, every time we see a bike just like our old, epic one, we get that ‘best time of my cycling life’ feeling, a warming sensation in the loins, and a strong yearning to have that bike back, even if it was of a technology from a long time ago.
What happens next is that we then go out and re-buy the same bike 20, 30, 40+ years later, because we strongly desire to feel that riding experience again, even if it isn’t on the same epic ride. We’re even happy to trawl the internet for original parts if some are required. This approach then drives the massively growing, vintage bike scene. Even the fashion of manufacturers to re-create a modern version or look of your epic bike, just like the 2020 trend of light coloured walls on tyres has re-emerged to help us re-connect with the bikes that first came out with those tyres many moons ago.
I have, just like some others no doubt, even thought of re-creating one of my epic rides, just to experience it all over again. Sadly, it won’t ever be the same, although on a positive note, it will always be epic in my mind and heart. It also means that I need to make every future ride as epic as possible.
Of my epic bikes mentioned above, the Kona was sold to buy the Cannondale, which I still have and enjoy riding to this day, because it is an epic bike for me. The Peugeot was swapped for another bike and I still own the 1950s randoneur, which provided another epic ride that you can read here https://diaryofacyclingnobody.com/tuscan-trip-managing-lifes-3-main-priorities-successfully/ Whilst I’ve never wanted to buy back my Peugeot, I have done exactly what I identified above, and bought another vintage Kona. It doesn’t have disc brakes or full suspension or a dropper-seat post etc etc, but it is as much fun to ride as my first one. Now all I need to do is have an epic ride on this Kona, and I’ll have gone full circle.
If nothing else, I hope that this post has allowed you to re-think those epic rides and the bikes that you did them on. In the meantime, keep searching for those epic rides, because it’s not about having the best, coolest, most expensive bike of the moment.
All Photos by or of, the Author – Apologies for the ‘not-very-epic-photo-quality’ of some of the images👍🍻