After the trek through the Pyrenees back in August, I decided to have a rest day by hiring a cheap bicycle to explore the surrounding mountains in the Pyrenees, it was an awesome ride getting soaked up in the amazing vista of each twist of the road.

It also got me thinking about the bicycle in general, during my short jaunt around the Pyrenees on a hired bicycle, I never thought about how stiff that Orbea Aqua is (horribly so), the tight clearance with the 25mm tyres rubbing against the chainstay, or the odd levers/handlebar shape that I find a little uncomfortable trying to brakes from the hood and the drop.

All I remember thinking was admiring every single small thing I notice on the road, hell, I didn’t even notice how uncomfortable the saddle was until the last flat 15km ride back into Luchon.

Perhaps the expensive carbon job with one extra cog and hand-made tyres make it more enjoyable, or perhaps I might not even notice the marginal gain in climbing with a lighter wheels, all I remember is that I enjoyed that day.

Explaining the difference between everyday cycling and sport cycling, source. Explaining the difference between everyday cycling and sport cycling, source.

When it come to ascending the mountain on a bicycle, I’m not sure how to described it, all I can says it’s probably one of those age old male trait of getting it done, needing to complete it, an ego booster, or simply climbing for the sake of climbing, in fact I really don’t know why I liked doing it, perhaps it’s the pain cave? the achievement or lack thereof? or the challenge? 

Then I remember George Mallory’s comment when asked why he climbed Everest, and his respond is simply;

"Because it’s there"

I reckon that summed it up perfectly, simply because it’s there was enough reason for me to ride the passes, humanity has always been trying to reach out, to leap before you look, to take risk, having says that, it’s not exactly a risk climbing Hardknott, it was as 48 hours prior to arriving in Cumbria, Hardknott was impassible covered in snow and black ices, I knew this but pressed on out of sheer stupidly (or braveness they’re in all honestly the same, you can’t have just the one).

Bike Rules

I’m not a member of the “roadie” sub-culture, nor do I particularly wish to be (some of the rules are funny, some are sage, many are totally ridiculous), but it made me realize that I have formed my own set of rules after several years of cycling in London. Some of my own, some are adapted from the advice of others and some are stolen. Here are the ones that spring immediately to mind:

  1. The daily commute is not a race. If I overtake you it’s not a challenge, it’s because I’m faster than you, so don’t feel compelled to start mashing your pedals furiously, wheezing and causing havoc in my general area. Likewise, if I’m riding slowly it’s because I’m enjoying the lazy pace or I’ve had a heavy one the night before. Looking over your shoulder with a shit eating grin as you “leave me for dust” just confirms that to me that your partner and ambitions are unfulfilled and you make up for it by pedaling furiously to a job you hate. The other possibility is that you’re an abject wanker.
  2. The only vehicles that have any place on a pavement are children’s bikes and mobility scooters. If you’re riding a bicycle on the pavement and you’re older than twelve you should contemplate the series of unfortunate events that have led you to behave like a water-brained sociopath and might even consider seeking professional help.
  3. It is good to have a slow friendly bike with paniers and a bell to keep you from taking the business of cycling too seriously. The bell should be loud, clear and desperately cheerful so people are inclined to hop out of your path with a smile and a wave. However, when you are taking the sleek and speedy road bike, fixed gear or single speed (none of which should have a bell) this all changes. As zombie commuters step blindly into your path without warning, a short and sharp – but inoffensive – vocal command should be issued to remind them that not everyone inhabits a vacuously swirling world of Starbucks muffins and smart phones filled to bursting point with anodyne bullshit.
  4. Hero worship is for spods and nonce-cakes. Fantasizing about licking Bradley Wiggins’ rippling calves is fine if that’s your thing, but don’t confuse those feelings with the joy of riding for the thrill of it.
  5. It’s not shameful to wait in a queue of traffic if the only other option is ending up as a streak of tarmac jam. If you are unable to anticipate the likely outcome of coasting between busses or carving up criminally negligent nose-pickers in Porsche Cayennes then you should consider cycle training or trading in your bike for a Super-Deluxe Platinum Oyster card.
  6. Everyone in or on a motorised vehicle is a fuckhead unless proven otherwise. So are most pedestrians and cyclists. However, those who drive, cycle or walk with care, skill and grace should be met with an appreciative smile and a nod. And a reacharound if you have the time.
NB. These rules were written on whiskey, as all rules should be.
As written by Lawrence Brown
Note to self:
1: Do not take a camera that you hasn’t use before, you will get bad shot when you’re not comfortable with it.
2: Get some strap on the camera so you can use it while riding and not worry about dropping the fragile thing onto the worn tarmac. 
3: Don’t take enough food to feed the entire group, fruit, sweets and brownie is more than enough to consume you, especially when you’re planning to stop at a pub for lunch at halfway, the ride is only 75 miles.
4: Don’t take extra layers of clothes, they sound great to change to after a wet day of cycling, but it’s not necessary, merino baselayer and spare socks is enough for a day ride.
5: Get a better framebag, the cheap Abus one is too small and very unstable, barely waterproof to keep the camera dry.
6: Keep riding. Note to self:
1: Do not take a camera that you hasn’t use before, you will get bad shot when you’re not comfortable with it.
2: Get some strap on the camera so you can use it while riding and not worry about dropping the fragile thing onto the worn tarmac. 
3: Don’t take enough food to feed the entire group, fruit, sweets and brownie is more than enough to consume you, especially when you’re planning to stop at a pub for lunch at halfway, the ride is only 75 miles.
4: Don’t take extra layers of clothes, they sound great to change to after a wet day of cycling, but it’s not necessary, merino baselayer and spare socks is enough for a day ride.
5: Get a better framebag, the cheap Abus one is too small and very unstable, barely waterproof to keep the camera dry.
6: Keep riding. Note to self:
1: Do not take a camera that you hasn’t use before, you will get bad shot when you’re not comfortable with it.
2: Get some strap on the camera so you can use it while riding and not worry about dropping the fragile thing onto the worn tarmac. 
3: Don’t take enough food to feed the entire group, fruit, sweets and brownie is more than enough to consume you, especially when you’re planning to stop at a pub for lunch at halfway, the ride is only 75 miles.
4: Don’t take extra layers of clothes, they sound great to change to after a wet day of cycling, but it’s not necessary, merino baselayer and spare socks is enough for a day ride.
5: Get a better framebag, the cheap Abus one is too small and very unstable, barely waterproof to keep the camera dry.
6: Keep riding. Note to self:
1: Do not take a camera that you hasn’t use before, you will get bad shot when you’re not comfortable with it.
2: Get some strap on the camera so you can use it while riding and not worry about dropping the fragile thing onto the worn tarmac. 
3: Don’t take enough food to feed the entire group, fruit, sweets and brownie is more than enough to consume you, especially when you’re planning to stop at a pub for lunch at halfway, the ride is only 75 miles.
4: Don’t take extra layers of clothes, they sound great to change to after a wet day of cycling, but it’s not necessary, merino baselayer and spare socks is enough for a day ride.
5: Get a better framebag, the cheap Abus one is too small and very unstable, barely waterproof to keep the camera dry.
6: Keep riding.

Note to self:

1: Do not take a camera that you hasn’t use before, you will get bad shot when you’re not comfortable with it.

2: Get some strap on the camera so you can use it while riding and not worry about dropping the fragile thing onto the worn tarmac. 

3: Don’t take enough food to feed the entire group, fruit, sweets and brownie is more than enough to consume you, especially when you’re planning to stop at a pub for lunch at halfway, the ride is only 75 miles.

4: Don’t take extra layers of clothes, they sound great to change to after a wet day of cycling, but it’s not necessary, merino baselayer and spare socks is enough for a day ride.

5: Get a better framebag, the cheap Abus one is too small and very unstable, barely waterproof to keep the camera dry.

6: Keep riding.