Sunday, June 14, 2009

Short, Fun, Retro Ride

I know, those of you who know me, or follow this blog, are thinking "isn't EVERY ride a Retro Ride for you Tim?"

And yes, it's true, the vast majority of my many bikes are what one would call retro. But tonight was a step further that way. Not a huge step... I didn't hop on a penny-farthing in wool knickers or anything like that... but a little more retro or "classic", you might say, than usual.

To start with, I rode the '73 chrome Schwinn Paramount. It's probably the bike I've tried the hardest to keep "original", since it came to me nearly completely equipped with original parts. And when it was time to accessorize it, I went with things that were period correct... the New Old Stock Schwinn Touring Saddlebag, the Bluemels Club Special fenders. And tonight, before my ride, I dug out a pair of Campagnolo Superleggera track pedals, with Christophe toe clips and ALE straps. Can you say "old school"? I've previously been riding the bike with modern "clipless" pedals, but have been wanting to go with something more traditional. The original pedals for this bike would be the more common "quill" version of the Campy SLs, and I have them, but with wide feet like mine, the track pedals work better. I used to ride with clips and straps all the time.. I only tried clipless in the late 90s, long after most "serious cyclists" had jumped on that bandwagon. I think what won me over to clipless in a big way was the advent of cycling sandals that can take the special cleat for the pedals. I have to admit, I love riding in those.

But sometimes I like something different. I've got several bikes set up so I can use cycling shoes OR regular shoes, and a couple with plain ol' flat pedals, and at any given time, I generally have at least one bike with clips and straps. So tonight I decided to set up the Paramount that way, and I'm glad I did. It just felt right to be cruising along on a lovely warm evening before sunset, feet in toe clips, hands in gloves with cotton mesh backs and leather palms, sans helmet. Yes, you read that right... I rode without a helmet! I generally wear one, and pretty much always on the road, but tonight I was on a rail-trail and in the mood for the wind in my hair I guess. And it just completed the trip down memory lane in a way... to a simpler time, when I was younger and less aware of my mortality... when my best buddy and I would cruise the streets after dark, with neither helmets nor lights, in a quiet neighborhood on the edge of Baltimore. Back when a grand total of 10 or 12 or 15 "speeds" on a bike seemed an embarrassment of riches. When we didn't need to don our lycra, and our special sunglasses and our special shoes, and our head armor for a simple ride around the quiet streets.

Tonight was like that... a quiet evening, soft light of the fading sun, only a few folks on the path... my old steel bike feeling so comfortable and right beneath me... non-cycling shoes in toe clips... wind in in my hair... five sprockets on my freewheel... shifters that don't click into each gear, and mounted on the down tube... and cotton tape under my palms. Beautiful night, beautiful ride.

About the only thing missing would be to have some kind of mechanical odometer... can you say Huret Multito? (the old bike geeks just chuckled to themselves)


Anonymous said...

This old bike geek may have a spare Multito... email me.

doc said...

Oh no! I had a Schwinn branded old click style odometer that I cleaned out of my parts box probably a month ago. I went down last night and confirmed it - I tossed it. I could kick myself since it would have been a great down payment on my Goshawk!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Tim -- I found the Multito -- lemme know (by email) if you still want it. And one of these days I fully expect to see you stride one of your "Retro" rides clad in oxford shirt, loafers, knickers and argyle socks...