Simple Pleasures

When I brought this 1981 Holdsworth Professional frame home this past summer, I knew from the start that I’d keep it simple and sleek, no frills. I wanted a classic bike to keep with me at my office for mid-day errands and the occasional short blast through the neighboring streets.

Perhaps I’ll eventually actually take it to my office at some point, but for now I’m enjoying the singular freedom to just jump on my bike for an hour of after dinner enjoyment. I know some will say the rat trap pedals are a far more leisurely option than the great racing pedigree calls for, that I should build it up with period correct Campy stuff and skinny racing tires.

But how elegant this bike is to my mind! The vintage Brooks Professional saddle fits my bike as well as my butt. Simple lines and simple build, script typography combined with block letters and a stylish British head badge. Graceful, well-designed construction, well-dressed in racing blue. There are chips in that blue paint, scars that surprisingly have more beauty and character than a perfectly unblemished surface.

I’ve said it before: Life’s too short to ride ugly bikes.

And this evening, rather than my usual lengthy rides, instead of getting all kitted out in cycling shorts and jersey – and yes, instead of donning a helmet – I found myself tooling around town in the short sleeved shirt I wore to work today, a pair of North Face shorts, and a cotton cycling cap, astride this classy blue racer.

The sun drops over the horizon and disappears alarmingly fast this time of year and though I sported a NiteRider light on the handlebars, the purpose of the ride was to get out and about, to enjoy the lengthening shadows and temperate weather before night fell.

I passed several “serious” cyclists as they pedaled, I presume, in the direction of their homes, wrapping up their rides as I was just beginning mine. I notice a peculiar thing – that some of them barely glance up at me, barely return that one absolute acknowledgement of roadies everywhere: the cyclist’s wave. Perhaps they only see some dude dressed in comfy clothes enjoying a casual evening ride on an old steel bike.

Oh well. Turns out they are absolutely right.

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