I think I will never be able to forget about last year. 2014 was the year I fell in love with riding a bicycle - again. In fact, this already happened in 2012 and it was inspired by my father.
My father is a bicycle aficionado since, well, ever. He rode an old road bike back in the day. I still remember the down tube-shifters made out of plastic. His next bike however, was a beautiful Koga Miyata TerraLiner Oval. This was in 1999, when I was still a kid.
I didn’t really care about bicycles and I was riding a new Scott mountain bike back then. However, whenever my father allowed me to ride his Koga for a while, I felt this incredible joy of being on a really fast bike. The feeling faded though. Then came puberty, girls started to be far more interesting, booze had to be tried and Black Metal to be discovered. It was a fine time and I enjoyed it a lot. At that time the bike was reduced to a vehicle of transportation. This way it was possible for me to stay longer at a party because I did not have to take the last bus, which left earlier. When you are literally too drunk to walk a straight line, you can still ride a bike with one eye closed. Yes, I was a bit more stupid back then. Life happened. I left Münster to become an apprentice in IT which lead me to end up as the systems administrator I am now. I moved to Erkrath, finished the apprenticeship, got a full time job, moved to Düsseldorf. And here I am now, 3 years later, with 4 bikes stuffed into my 55 square meter flat.
In 2012, while I was visiting my father in Münster, he told me to take one of his bikes with me. He remembered that I always liked it and I was complaining a lot about the public transportation in Düsseldorf, so he thought I should just take the bike. He did not give me just a bike, but the Koga Miyata. It was collecting dust in the basement and he had not used it since he bought a modern Steppenwolf-hardtail mountainbike in 2007. Of course, I gladly accepted the present. It was still in a pretty good condition. It was just perfect.
This was taken during a short ride with a friend of mine in 2012.
I rode it throughout the whole summer of 2012 and I had big plans for 2013 - which I totally forgot about afterwards. I was preoccupied with work. I stopped smoking and got depressed. I stayed away from Chaosdorf, my favorite Hackerspace. In 2013, I rarely touched the bike, so it collected dust inside of my flat. I wasn’t feeling well at all.
Back on my feet
Things changed when I suddenly felt the urge to be on a bicycle again. It started right in the beginning of 2014. Suddenly, I noticed that the symptoms of my depression decline when I’m on a bike. The more time I spent on my bike, the more I started to feel like a person living a life worth living again. It made me feel like I was really alive again. It gave me freedom. Otherwise I would have spent my day at home or waiting for a tram; or ranting about delayed trams on Twitter.
One of my many trips to Kaiserswerth. It’s a decent, bike-friendly path along the rhine.
This picture was taken at the other side of the rhine. A friend of mine showed me this side at the beginning of summer. I can definitely recommend riding there.
The person to inspire me to get a road bike was FAZ blogger Don Alphonso who keeps on posting pictures of rare, beautiful classical road bikes in his blog. I liked how these things looked and that you could reach insane amounts of speeds on them. Thus, I came to the conclusion to just buy a used road bike from the Ebay equivalent of Craigslist.
While I was visiting my mother in Lingen, I told her about my plans and we visited a small bicycle store in Rhein where I was told to get a modern road bike instead, especially because of the increased stability of a modern aluminum-frame. I wasn’t sure yet, if I wanted to spend more than a thousand bucks on something that might just end up as another bike collecting dust.
At first I eyed a Cube-entry level bike and then my eyes caught a glimpse of a slightly more expensive one. However, as soon as I was ready to place an order for the Stevens bike, the dealer told me that the frame size I needed was no longer in stock and that he was unable to get another. I wasn’t quite sure about the Cube anymore and so I decided to order a Canyon RoadLite 7.0 instead. Ironically, just two days before it finally got delivered, I had a cycling accident that put me into the hospital for a few hours. The muscles in my left leg overstretched and I had to let it heal for a few weeks until I could finally ride the new bike.
The very first ride with the new bike after my injuries had time to heal
During a holiday where I spent about 3-4 hours per day on the bike.
Another picture from the same holiday in East Frisia
This is how you transport a bike in a Deutsche Bahn InterCity train.
During descends, I peaked roughly 65 km/h on this bike and according to Strava, I rode about 1500 km on the RoadLite from July to October. A few hundred kilometers might be missing because I sometimes forgot to enable the tracking function of the app. However, I am not riding the bike for mere statistics anyways.
But something was still missing. Now I had a super-modern road bike with a complete Shimano Ultegra setup and I still felt like my life wasn’t complete without yet another bike. I scoured Ebay for an old road bike so I had something to play with, which I didn’t depend on for transportation. Thanks to Don Alphonso, I found a nice old road bike with a beautiful steel frame in Cologne - for which I paid only 300 €.
There are also special bicycle-compartments in Deutsche Bahn Regional Express trains
At first, it looked kind of ugly, due to the Milka splattered handlebar tape. I quickly replaced it with a nice white tape. The tape seemed a bit off and I noticed a few mistakes I made while tightening it, so I got myself another replacement. I ended up with an old Vinyl tape that might just be a few years older than I am. The brake handles also didn’t fit to the bike, so I replaced them with Shimano 600 levers completing the Shimano 600-group of the bike.
The beautiful Shimano 600 levers
There just had to be one of those Hipster-pictures
Winter is coming
Road bikes have one disadvantage: They don’t perform all particularly well in winter. So there had to be yet another bike in my collection, more suitable for bad weather conditions. At first I considered getting a hardtail mountainbike, but I didn’t like the straight handlebar and I was convinced that an MTB wasn’t the right bike for riding in a city like Düsseldorf. One of the Youtube channels I’m subscribed to had a report about a Cyclocross mastership and after some digging, I knew I wanted a cyclocross bike. It’s built like a road bike but comes with disc brakes out of the box and slightly wider tires featuring a treaded surface.
My budget was a bit tight and so I tried to find the right crosser for roughly 1000 €. But my local dealer told me right away that I won’t find a crosser with disc brakes which are able to stop a person of my size and mass for a price below 1500 €. So he recommended hydraulic disc brakes instead of mechanical ones to serve this purpose. At first I considered to let him replace the standard issue mechanical ones with the semi-hydraulic HY/RD from TRP but that would still have cost me about 1600 € including working hours for the modification. Fuck it, I thought and just went with the Cannondale CAADX SRAM Rival group and hydraulic disc brakes, resulting in a 2000 € bill.
Well, that escalated quickly. Thanks to a great employer, I was able to order the bike for my daily commute to the office as my Jobrad (that’s german for “bicycle for work”) - it’s a process that comes with the same tax-benefits as a company car. It took a few weeks until it was all wrapped up. Of course there were lots of signatures involved and the process took a quite some time, with all of the parties involved being spread across four different cities. Mid-November, I was finally allowed to take the bike with me.
I’m not sure if my current collection satisfies me with having “enough bicycles”. I don’t think so. I’m looking forward to what the year 2015 will bring in regards to bicycles, though. I’m pretty sure I’ll spend a lot of time on my bikes.