Can a bike have a soul?

I look down in horror, glaring accusingly at my back wheel, with rising concern and the sickening realisation that all is not well.
It shouldn’t look like that, how the hell did that happen. Impossibly contorted, I can feel the tension, as the rear mech quivers, waiting for something to give, to relieve the tension and send springs and bolts shrapnel like arcing into the undergrowth …
Extrications, roadside repairs and I am off limping home, turning an impossible gear , knees complaining as I grind homeward. My mind churning, worried.
A pang of fear that I could lose an old friend.

Dependable and loyal, my reliable mount gets me home, complaining, chattering and creaking and it is with great relief, we finally roll into the garage.
Cup of tea in hand I can survey the damage, she is mud splattered, oil and fine grit congealed in places, her smooth rear end bent, she looks forlorn, broken. A pang of guilt as I gulp my tea.
Things will never be the same again.
A part of me feels bruised, this thing, this bike, has served me so well.
The slack Lemond geometry took some getting used to at first, but I have built up trust and a real connection.
Every component was pored over and bought individually, relentlessly upgraded by hours sourcing increments through ebay. Hand built, hand selected. Steel frame, hand built wheels, Campag components .Pride and soul imparted by my decisions and by reflecting my choices, a part of me,
Like all relationships…… built on trust, dependability, shared experiences and an intimate passing of hours and miles.
Tears, laughter, travels, wind, rain, sun, snow, grit, mud, blood, painful crashes, suffering, even glory, the whole range of human emotions. My old friend and raconteur now aching, needing help in front of me.
Is it possible that it feels the same as me? Does a bicycle have a soul?
Steel, Titanium with their springiness ..What about lifeless plasticy carbon? Or coke tin dull aluminium? Is ‘soul’ the feedback, the bike answering you back, like a petulant child? Is that soul?
Can a frame built in an Asian factory have soul? Does a hand-brazed frame absorb a little bit of the craftsman who built it?
My wheels were hand built, I replaced the factory built Electrons, (even that name implies electronic, robotic) Andy of Rock n Road laced them, I remember the pride as he handed them over (they are still the best wheels that I have ever ridden)
The sum of the parts, to make the whole, does it reflect my own riding soul. Maybe slightly retro, a tipped casquette and belief in the glorious history of our sport, yet with modern materials.
I am the engine and the passenger and yet in what other sports does the participant have such an intimate connection with his equipment and medium? ( maybe swimmers)

I take her to bike hospital, placing her in the hands and mastery of the bike surgeons,

( Pic from Fixymatosis)
She is damaged, but forty minutes of gentle(!) massage and she is returned to me. She is ok, will roll with a limp, or squint at the open road, but she is whole, and ridable. At the end a Lemond frame is just a Trek… (despite the fact that I despise the robotic bloodless marque synonymous with the great needle monkey himself) factory built, in Taiwan. A Platinum OX front triangle with a pig iron back end… it might be that malleable soft back end that saves her Ass this time round.
I am already poring ebay for a replacement mech, maybe I can source a 9 speed Record.
For now she is resting, gather dust and strength, soon to be mended and out together again, rolling through the lanes of our courtship, grateful for familiarity.

What does your bike say about you? What would it say to you?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: