My New Bike
and the book: Just Ride by Grant Petersen
In 1968 or 1969, I forget which, one of my best friends and I hopped on the GO train and took it to Union Station in Toronto. From there we managed the subway system to Bloor Sport & Cycle. I’m pretty sure that it no longer exists but there are several others in the same area. Or maybe it was renamed. Not sure.
My friend and I bought identical bikes. We each purchased a Dawes Galaxy 10 Speed - Black. It had centre pull brakes and a Brooks leather saddle. We each paid $159.00! You can’t buy the saddle for that anymore.
We managed to ride the streets back to Union Station and took the bikes on the [read more]Go Train back. At the time this commuter train didn’t go all the way to our town so we rode the last few miles. The ride from Toronto to our town would have been about 30 miles, a distance we were doing pretty regularly not too long after our purchases.
The next couple of years I did a couple of good summer road trips on my bike; one through Vermont and upstate New York and another from
Calgary to Vancouver. In Canada in case your geography ain’t so good. That last, out west, was other worldly. I really should do a separate post on that; I remember it in such detail even though it happened roughly 50 years ago. 10 speeds up and down a couple of the highest passes in the country.
I lived in Calgary for almost 10 years more recently and drove those roads from Calgary into and through the Alberta and BC mountains a hundred times. I could never get over the fact that I biked up all those mountains. I even cycled up the road to Lake Louise. With all my gear! Back then, early 1970s there were dozens and dozens of people doing the same thing. We saw the occasional one, very few, more recently.
I’ve had these types of road bikes since the Dawes Galaxy. Nishiki, Bianchi, Schwinn and more recently a Raleigh. All with the gear changers on the down tube of the frame and usually centre pull or side pull brakes.
I’ve watched the evolution of bikes over the years and never really liked what I saw. When I was sizing my bike and setting the seat and handle bars, we had rules of how to to that. Seat height was: 109% of the distance measured from crotch to floor. Use that measurement and with pedal extended in line with seat tube, go from centre of pedal axle to top of seat. When you are sitting on the seat with your toe on the pedal, your leg would then be very slightly bent.
Then raise the handle bars so the top of the headset is level with the top of the seat. Place the seat forward or back using this measurement: tip of your fingers to your
elbow = length from front tip of seat to just touching the handle bar stem/headset.
One could do minor adjustments from there.
After riding these road bike for 50 years or so, I was searching for a bike where I wouldn’t be practically upside down. I’m sure I’d last about 10 minutes before my hands would go numb and I’d have neck issues that I’d never recover from.
On same day that I received my new bike, I came across and downloaded a great book called ‘Just Ride’ by Grant Petersen. His website and blog, are here https://www.rivbike.com The blog is equally amusing as the book.
You can likely find the book at the library, hard copy or digitally or you get here:
I love Petersen’s irreverence. I agree with so many chapters of his book. He lays waste to the false standards that the Bike Racing industry has set. His ultimate goal seems to be to keep it fun. And still use cycling to get and stay fit. Filled with good, useful tips and a hoot to read at the same time.
I’m not retiring my old road bike just yet. The frame is still excellent; I just have to figure if it is worth getting new components, wheels etc. I like the geometry and not sure I’ll be able to get what I want otherwise. We’ll see.
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