A (FXD) Roadie Out In The Wild


This is an experiment.

So….42miles per hour (approx.). That’s what I’ve been toying around with lately. And guess wha…surprise surprise, that wholesome number has been on a geared bike.

Yep, toys with gears have joined my set. A classic steel joy from Vernon Barker and an alloy Viking race bike now sit pretty next to my usual fixed and single speed rides. 

Vernon Barker. A classic steel frame built in Sheffield, and probably the lightest and most comfortable bike I’ve ever riden.
Sitting pretty on DT Swiss R460’s: A modified Viking road bike that I now call…”The Phantom”

Slowly rollin’ to feel comfortable on geared bikes has been a learning curve of sorts. At first all I could muster was gear crunching and skipped ratios. Slugging along through hills and being dropped on the other side by space-suit clad lycra dudes who always seem mute to voice, and never say a word to anyone – not even to fellow cyclists. 

That has been one of the strange situations that I’ve come across out there in the wild as a new road-runner. Most so-called ‘roadies’ (on the other side) appear to have such stiff upper lips that make responding to a friendly wave or tokens of “Hello” or “Good morning” seem alien to them. 

Most times these mute-roadies are sad to watch out in the wild. Cursing at drivers – spitting on the street – while all the same decked out and dripping head to toe in nondescript corporate ads on lycra. Now you see, most of these guys consider themselves to be serious cyclists. Local pro’s on carbon. Let the newbies be dammned, Lord knows the Strava KOM is God!

Maybe it’s a lack of coffee, lack of friends or just pure arrogance. Either way, coming from a fixed gear and single speed perspective, the attitude of fellow “trying-to-be-cool-oh-look-I’m-so-pro-roadies” against “other-typa” cyclists who are not “elite” enough has been a sight to behold – and mystifying.

Sometimes it makes me wonder whether those Strava KOM’s and power-meters are just turning cyclo-guys into robots as compared to us mere mortals. 

The “Cyclist”…explained

So, yep the road geared bike experience has been a learning curve but it’s fun out there. In the midst of all the arrogant lycra prancers (who I’ve come to realise are a small minority by the way), are good ones who adore the fun of cycling – and are actually smiling when I fly past them on the road.

Sometimes I stop and chat to seasoned geared vets who appreciate the steel Vernon creed, and love seeing fellow cyclists out on the road – especially on cold winter days.

I’m enjoying the ride. It’s fun, and riding geared bikes is helping me explore the new high speed descents and climbs that I’ve been tagging for my next summer tours — on my usual single speed and geared bikes of course.

The gear ratios at hand on Vernon have also helped me spin away at speed, but not enough to match my top all time record of 52mph that was set on my fixed and single speed bikes. 

Sherwood Forest is amazing in autumn – even on 23mm tyres

The winter ice and slippery morning roads have had a say in limiting my top speed at the moment. That, and the fact that I normally have to rush back (at a reasonable cadence) to pick up kids from school after work. Flying on slip streams, whilst dicing between black ice and foggy roads has meant that top speed checks on my new geared bike will be tucked away and logged for spring and summer. 

As a customary blessing – the chain fell off cos’ of the cold and ice – so single speed conversion here we go!
Contrary to popular opinion, 23mm tyres are excellent on ice – they just cut through the snow like nothing else.
The Vernon Barker is a highly versitile steel frame – soon to be converted into a single speed summer cruiser

And I say, geared bike because I’ve already disassembled the Vernon Baker for springtime prep as a legit 77GI cruiser project. More on this will be revealed when the days are warmer. 

For now, I’m enjoying the roads, and can legitimately say that I’m not a “roadie” yet.

I’m just a cyclist out there in the wild, havin’ some good ‘ol fun. 

It’s cold and dark again…
Geared bikes are great for exploring, but the Dawes fixed gear is always the best on snow!


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