Ah, the search for “The One.”
|1892 wedding picture. Courtesy Pikes Peak library.|
The One who will make your heart flutter, your insides tingle. The One who will have you walking around in a dreamy daze.
The One you will travel the world with, over smooth roads and rough terrain. The One who will be with you when you take in amazingly beautiful vistas. The One who will be with you during your most mundane moments, such as grocery-shopping, hardware store runs, and commuting to work.
The One, for better and for worse.
Have you found The One?
I thought I had 10 years ago. She was an Italian-made steel road bike, versatile enough to be my commuter, my century ride, my light tourer, my grocery-hauling do-it-all multipurpose bike (you knew this was about bikes, right?).
But time and experience will change a man.
I still believe that steel road bikes make the best all-rounders. But what if you want to do some fully-loaded touring or bike camping? Then maybe the Surly Long-Haul Trucker is The One, or if you love vintage bikes maybe a 1980’s Miyata 1000.
|The 1983 Miyati 1000. Credit: MiyataCatalogs.com|
What if you want to take in some dirt? Then you may want wider tire clearance to allow for fatter tires, if not knobbies. Of course, this point is arguable. In a 1993 article in Bicycling magazine, Chris Kostman wrote: “I routinely dust every mountain biker I encounter on the trail. And I ride a road bike.” Of course, he is a cocky S-O-B: “More bluntly, a road bike is equal to or better than a mountain bike if ridden with skill like I have.”
Grant Petersen pursued the dream of The One during his tenure with Bridgestone. The result was the XO-1, which he touted as “the most versatile, the most exciting bike we’ve ever made; and under the legs of a strong, skilled rider, it can do almost anything.”
|An ad for the XO-1. Credit: sheldonbrown.com|
The XO-1 became the Atlantis when Petersen started Rivendell, but the XO-1 has plenty of other progeny as well, including recent entrants such as the Rawland Sogn and perhaps Surly’s soon-to-be released Troll.
|The Troll (note to Surly — please rename). Credit: Surly Blog.|
Surly says “the idea behind this sucker is a commuter, tractor, off-roader, tourer, dethmachine.” By the way, Surly is quite serious about the “tractor” part – they’re coming out with a trailer for 2011 that they claim can haul 300 pounds of cargo.
There’s nothing wrong with pursuing The One. But I’ve found a special joy in owning a bunch of bikes and riding them all frequently. I currently have five very different bikes: the aforementioned road bike, an XO-2, a mountain bike, a fixie, and a 60-year-old English 3-speed. I find that I am riding more than ever.
The 1994 Bridgestone catalog included an article titled “How To Ride A Bike Forever,” which recommended owning multiple bikes:
Make your bicycles so different that your experience on one is unlike the other — a mountain bike and a road bike, a multispeed and a single speed, or a clunker, or a recumbent. For some people, even different handlebars are enough of a change. It’s worth a try.
|How To Ride A Bike Forever – click for big if you want to read the whole thing. Credit: sheldonbrown.com/bridgestones|
So there you have it. It’s okay to be with multiple bikes. And don’t worry: they never get jealous.