As you’ll be aware, back in 2008 there was a global financial crisis. The UK economy leapt off the edge of the cliff with the enthusiasm of a hedge fund manager ordering a new Bentley, and most of us are still feeling the effects.
For example, all available evidence suggests that the local coffers here in the north of England are empty when it comes to road repairs. Give it another year or two and, speaking as a cyclist, the potholes of Lancashire will begin to rival the cobbles of Roubaix as a brutal test of man and bike.
Back when the term ‘credit crunch’ was first being coined, I can’t help thinking the big bike manufacturers saw this coming. Their developers silently observed the UK economy heading south and concluded that by 2016 the roads of northern England would be in a state of disarray. Cyclists would be crying out for an all singing all dancing solution to their increasing discomfort. So they got to work.
The current glut of ‘endurance’ road bikes is the result; basically, more comfortable versions of race orientated bikes.
The Trek Domane SLR, for example.
It’s designed, according to the coffee-drinking-haircut-wielding marketing types, to propel the likes of Fabian Cancellara over the cobbled and rutted roads of northern Europe during the spring classics. With its forgiving geometry and ability to flex, suspension like, through the seat post and the front end, it also looks like the solution to the rutted and ragged lanes of Lancashire.
It’s very clever.
In recent weeks I’ve been able to watch this at first hand, tucked in the serene slipstream of my friend and Sunday morning riding partner. The Domane SLR is his winter bike of choice.
Mine, on the other hand, is a ten year old Pinarello Angliru. It’s not a bad bike, but in comparison to the all-terrain SUV of my friend’s Trek it’s a battered old Vauxhall Cavalier. It’s also a size too big for me, and is made of ageing aluminium.
I’m sure the carbon forks make a difference, but try telling that to my arse as I clatter along with all the grace of a celebrity politician in a televised dance competition. Every imperfection in the road creates a judder through my hands and up my spine. The sight of my friend gliding effortlessly doesn’t help.
Despite its shortcomings I still claim some deep attachment to, and love for, this veteran winter steed of mine. I convince myself that the Domane would be too polished and technical for my taste, and wasted as a workhorse winter ride. This is only because I can’t currently justify the purchase.
Having said that, here in my home town of Lancaster I regularly find myself wandering past the window of The Edge Cycleworks. The purchase is only ever a reckless insertion of a pin number away.
The silver lining to this bike envy is that I feel fully justified in wheel-sucking my friend every time we head out for a ride. There might not be a motor in it (as far as I know) but from where I’m sitting, riding a Trek Domane is practically mechanical doping.
The least he can do is let me have his slipstream.