Monday, October 29, 2012


I like bicycles. I like them A LOT. I have five of them at the moment, plus lots of bits and pieces of other ones. I'm a serial bike owner.

I don't think I've ever written a post about a bike before, and I hope you'll bear with me, because it's something I feel really quite strongly about. I'd also like to know your opinions.

The reason I have five bikes is because I reckon there's a bike for every type of riding. If I want to ride off road I need one type of bike. Riding on the road requires another. One of my bikes is almost exclusively for riding to the shops.

This is not the bike you're looking for.

Indulge me for a moment in some fantasy. Imagine the perfect bike. Imagine the bike that could make even someone like me think that no other bikes are necessary. One bike to rule them all.

The snag with the perfect bike is it comes with a contract. When you buy the perfect bike you sign the contract. The contract says you agree that you will never ride another bike again and no other cyclist is allowed to ride the perfect bike. It is for you, and you alone. If you see another bike you like the look of, you CAN NOT RIDE IT. Nope.

But remember, this bike is perfect. You've considered your purchase long and hard. You've had a very thorough test ride. The saddle and your buttocks come together in perfect, pain free, harmony. The handlebars are just the right distance away. It is fast, but at the same time forgiving. It is strong. It will last for as long as you need it to. It will never let you down.

You love the bike.

So you sign the contract. Of course you do. Why wouldn't you?

You sign the contract and you begin a glorious life together, bike and rider as one. Happy.

What would have to happen for you to break that contract just five months later? For you to think that the bike which was perfect just twenty weeks ago could now be bettered? A new bike on the scene perhaps? A bike made of some magical new material, with some magical new perfection-beating properties?

First, you ride that bike in secret, but after a while everyone finds out. The perfect bike falls by the wayside. People think what you're doing is wrong, but you don't seem too bothered about that. The new bike is exciting, and fun.

I don't know. I can't work it out. I just can't fathom how a feeling so strong could change so quickly. Remember how that first perfect bike felt. Remember how you decided you could have that one bike, to the exclusion of all others? What happened to that feeling?

For that to change in five months, well, that's got to be a problem on the part of the rider, hasn't it?

I suppose the fortunate thing about it is that a bike is just a collection of metal, plastic and rubber. You can't hurt a bike. It doesn't feel anything. It is an inanimate object which exists only to serve the needs of the rider. No-one would treat a person that way.

Here endeth the poorly conceived and written metaphor for my brother's failed marriage.


  1. Wow. I wondered where you were going with it. oof.

  2. How very sad. Just five months, wow.

    Brilliantly written piece btw

  3. That is so shit, hope he's okay. Love what you have done with the writing :)

  4. Oh blimey.

    That is so sad, it doesn't feel that long ago you were tweeting about the stag and wedding.

    Another well written piece.

  5. Oh dear, that is sad. Five months isn't long at all (although still longer than some celebrity marriages!). Hope your brother and everyone involved can find a way through this difficult time

  6. Beautifully written and so sad sounds exactly what happened to my brother.

  7. I think sometimes people make a commitment to the perfect bike when the initial thrill has worn off and they are hoping if they commit to it that excitement will return. It is often the case that these break before the years guarantee is finished. Sadly.

  8. Happened to my bro too. I don't understand it. Hope I never do. Much like quantum mechanics I can read books and study but it always feels it will be out of my reach by millimeters; that the knowledge was never meant for me. I know it takes work, sacrifice and commitment from both parties. You both have to want it.

    Brilliantly written by the way and fantastically conceived. Well done that man.

  9. First of all you can never have too many bikes, we both know that. BUT if it's a metaphor for marriage then I'm with you, who hasn't been tempted or thought about it? But really all you like is the excitement and the newness you're forgetting about how that one bike makes you feel, how it knows how to make you laugh when you are sad or reassure you when you're worried.
    Owning one bike is about more than shiny sparkly newness, if you make the commitment you better bloody work at it and stick it out.

  10. Nice story - as a man with 5 bikes and one wife, I can relate. But hard as it is to understand sometimes, it is actually ok for old perfections to be replaced with new ones, bikes or people, so long as it is done with care. It might be for the best - for none of us can read the future, not even on the happiest day of our lives.

    Besides, some people's perfect bike would be a tandem.

  11. Sometimes all you can do is stand by with a puncture repair kit and do what you think is best. Sometimes no matter what you think or say some cyclists jump the red lights or turn left beside lorries. All you can do is step forward and pick up the peices. Sometimes being out on your own mountain bike means your out of range and people have to walk home the long way in the rain by themselves.

  12. Mmmm, not sure if your brother is the bike or the rider, or if it makes any difference, but either way it is unbearably sad.

    Without wanting to be clumsy and not knowing what the bike or rider is or how you feel about them....but that bike cant have been perfect for that rider. There is a bike for everyone and I think it's is a painful way to find a bike you thought was for you wasn't.

  13. Sorry, its offgridalex above, not sure why my name cut off. Hope you and everyone involved is not too hurt (futile hope I know) and that one day the perfect bike finds a perfect rider and the reckless rider finds their perfect bike

  14. I feel a duty to point out that I'm the bike that got left behind. Many commenters have hit the nail on the head, and I'd like to thank everyone for their kind words. Onwards and upwards.

    I'm a little disappointed that this post isn't actually about bikes. I like bikes, but I think I'll walk for a while :-)

  15. amazing post! I must say, I've noticed before that people have been riding their 'perfect' bike, keeping it in their house etc for really quite a long time, THEN they sign the contract and then it all seems to fall apart... Not sure why that it is...