Seduced by Speed

I have always seen road bikes as superfluous and silly, the toy of transport for the self-indulgent– those who ride for exercise, sport, and speed, with little interest in practicality.

I failed to see the point of a bike with little-to-no fender clearance, narrow tires that suffer through street cracks, and a shameful lack of carrying capacity. My interests veered toward bikes that easily accommodated wider tires, fenders, and racks.

These preferences for a multipurpose setup cultivated a belief that I was prepared for anything, from an unplanned evacuation or cross-country tour to a trip to the grocery store. I patted myself on the back for my devotion to the practical steel touring frame and all its trappings.

Two years ago, impulse overtook my sensible side and I purchased my first road bike, a Bridgestone RB-1. For the next year I let the fenderless skinny-tire bike idle in the Dining Room Bike Shop, denying its occasionally plea to be ridden with weak excuses. It might rain. I might need a triple. Those tires… too narrow for D.C. potholes!

RB-1 Hains

Time passed, and the Bridgestone waited patiently in the Dining Room Bike Shop amid all the touring frames, sure that it would one day have its time.

Felkerino and I put the finishing touches on the RB-1 this spring, and over the summer I took to riding it on sunny weekend days. This little red hot rod showed me the ways of riding light and fast.

That doesn’t mean that I’m actually riding fast, mind you, but compared to our tandem and my other bikes, the RB-1 rides like a rocket. We move swiftly on flats and zip up hills without any additional gravitational pull caused by bags or fenders. Without Felkerino, I’m half a bike!

I smile and pedal away under the summer sun. I feel fit and strong, finally understanding the attraction of riding light. The sensation of speed seduces me, and as soon as my ride ends, I eagerly anticipate the next time I will reunite with my dear little RB-1 hot rod again.

Jerry and part of the Welcome Home posse
Jerry and part of the Welcome Home posse

NOTE:  Shout-out to our friend Jerry, who finished his cross-country tour this weekend– 9,254 kilometers in 9 weeks, including a spectacular rando-style stint between Minneapolis to Pittsburgh (1,570 kilometers in 7 days). You’re amazing!

6 thoughts on “Seduced by Speed

  1. I road my Bob Jackson stepped down road bike today to! Sometimes it’s a nice change of pace. I did really feel the bumps in the road and trail but the brief climbs felt awesome.

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  2. That’s funny I have just discovered the same as you. Using my Roberts tourer I have the convenience of panniers and a bar bag + 28mm tyres so I tend to gravitate towards that when I go out for a ride but having had it hanging on my wall for ages I more recently have been using my Orbea Oinx CF with 23mm tyres. Sure its more bumpy but boy is it fun. So for many rides now until Summer ends I think I will use it rather than the Roberts. But come Winter the Roberts will make more sense. Great to have the choice though. Ride safe.

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  3. I have such an ebb and flow with my desire to ride a thin-tired road bike. This hasn’t exactly been a stellar riding season for me, but there have been times when I just crave pure speed (even if it’s just speed for me and not actually fast by roadie standards). I can push on a heavier, loaded up bike, but it’s just not the same. I think it is the benefit of having multiple types of bicycles – it allows for mood changes and desires to do different types of riding. Or, at least that’s how I justify it. 🙂

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