Easy Rider.

After swapping out the wheels (yet again!) for a vintage NOS Maillard wheel set and 27 x 1 1/4″ Panaracer Pasela clinchers that I left slightly under-inflated, is my 1966 Paramount P-12 the most comfortable, best fitting classic lightweight I’ve ever owned?

Close. Pretty damn close.

I’ve now fitted a more appropriate five-speed freewheel in back – well, more appropriate that the six-speed I had on a few days ago anyway. Similar to the six-speed that I removed, this NOS SunTour Winner freewheel has a range of 13-16-19-23-28. And believe me when I say that the 23 and 28 tooth options certainly make the 52/49 chain ring racing combo a whole lot more palatable!

The evening was hot and quite muggy, and I really seriously debated with myself about staying indoors, my butt securely attached to the couch so as to best take advantage of the air conditioning.

Instead, I changed into a battered pair of cycling shorts and an even more battered pair of cleated riding shoes and headed north on the Paramount. Even if they’re short jaunts, I really love heading off with no destination in mind, no pump or bag or pack, no phone or camera. Just me and a bike, daring the world to throw a chunk of glass under the front tire, goading me to hit that pothole and duck walk home in click-clacking, slick-bottomed cycling cleats. I will get burned one of these days.

But not tonight.

Nope.

With darkness falling more quickly each day, and no lights or reflectors, it would be stupid of me to head through and out of town – which, of course, I do. Coming down a steep hill, I am going fast, but nowhere near maxing out the taller side of my gearing. I tuck and stop pedaling, getting as aerodynamic as my fifty-ish year old form allows me to do, and pick up a little more speed, leveling out and easily shifting into an appropriate gear. I think that’s what I like about this bike: it’s simple and easy to ride. It doesn’t fight me – none of the three Paramounts I own do, as a matter of fact, but this one – this one, it’s especially true. My Boulder Brevet is a terrific slow rider (but not terribly slow, if that makes any sense at all – just slower and more comfortable than my speed bikes.) My Gazelle Champion Mondial is a real speedster.

And this Paramount is just easy.

Which is just fine tonight, since I’m going to have to climb a tall hill to get back home again.

In the dark.

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4 thoughts on “Easy Rider.

  1. Rod Bruckdorfer says:

    Speed comparisons are relative. Compared to my Miyata 1000 LT classic touring bike, my Boulder Randonneur (Brevet) is fast, even with 42 mm X 650B tires. If a “category 6” racer passes me, I love to chase them down on the Boulder. The look on their face is priceless when I come up next to them on a fat tire steel bike fitted with stainless steel fenders, front rack, decaleur, handlebar bag, Zefal frame pump and leather saddle. Oh, a “cat-6” racer is a cyclist that is racing against you but you don’t know it. The give away is, they are working hard when they pass and occasionally look back to see how far they have distanced themselves from their intended victim. As soon as they feel comfortable with their achievement and start to relax, the game starts. As you know there are only four category race rating, Cat-1 thru Cat-4. I believe this foolishness in me, is left over from 7 years as a competitive cross-country and track runner.

    Cheers,

    Rod

    • I’ve come across many of those same “Cat 6” racers! I’ve also seen that same look of astonishment when I catch up with them and pass them… Sometimes we will even ride together, which is very nice. They seem equally puzzled to find out that my bike is steel but not vintage. There seems to be this crazy idea that steel stopped getting used back in the fifth century or something!

  2. Rod Bruckdorfer says:

    I got a good laugh at your reference to the fifth century. Cycling in the Baltimore-Washington corridor is race oriented and very aggressive, even though, must cyclist are not sanctioned racers. Perhaps this behavior is a reflection of the products and image the bicycle industry is selling to the public. “The bicycle industry is driving the market not the cyclist” – Georgena Terry of Georgena Terry Cycles.

    • Oh, I’m convinced your appraisal is correct. I spent too many years in advertising not to be just a little cynical about such things, but the reality is that we don’t purchase based upon actual “need,” but upon the perception of need. I called it “aspirational marketing,” the concept that we don’t buy what we need, but what we want or aspire to be. It’s the reason slim, red cars can sell for a whole lot more than boxy gray ones. I am certain the perception of “racer” flows over and onto the entire purchasing world of bicycle end users. That’s not entirely bad, by the way, because I think that even if the emperor isn’t actually wearing any clothes, it’s a good thing he’s out on a bike and getting fit.

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