In January I recklessly typed in Behind the Barr that completing this year’s Great Victorian Bike Ride (GVBR) was one of my major goals for 2013. There’s nothing like quietly announcing a goal to a thousand or so people to motivate you into doing something towards achieving it…
Although I loved my old mountain bike I’d bought way back in 1989, I decided it was time to upgrade to a newer (and hopefully faster) bike for the GVBR. One night in late January I embarked upon some serious internet Google research into the world of cycling.
The bicycle is continually evolving and has certainly come a long way since the German civil servant, Baron Karl von Drais presented the world with the first commercially produced bicycle (known as the velocipede – a Latin word meaning “fast foot”) in 1817.
Choosing what type of bike I wanted from the bewildering array of different styles available was my first dilemma. There are literally dozens of different types of bikes to choose from. The three main ones that I knew about were the mountain bike, racing bike and hybrid bike. Mountain bikes have fantastic gears and are purpose built for off-road cycling but they aren’t all that fast or built for serious long distance riding. Racing or road bikes are built for speed however, their skinny, speedy tyres are only suited to good, sealed roads and I imagined just looking at my gravel driveway would be enough to puncture them. A hybrid bike as you would expect is a compromise between a road bike and a mountain bike but I didn’t think it was what I was after either…
After reading reams of internet pages on bikes and bike reviews, I discovered the Vivente World Randonneur (VWR) a purpose built touring bike designed by Australian Noel McFarlane. Randonneur bikes are built for long distance riding and touring; they come with the drop bars of a racing bike, tyres that are slim enough for speed but sturdy enough to be undaunted by dirt or gravel roads and a range of gears that would enable me to pedal up a mountain… (or the Otway Ranges in November). I was so impressed by the independent reviews, photos and the components used in the VWR that I emailed Noel directly to ask a few more questions.
A few emails later in early February, I was headed down to Bendigo to meet Peter, the owner of Moronis Bikes and Mark, a bike mechanic and resident touring bike expert. They had a Vivente World Randonneur on the showroom floor that just happened to be the right size for me. Five hours after walking into Moronis Bikes and lots of discussion later, I left with my shiny new VWR fitted out with panniers (just in case I wanted to tackle the Nullarbor Plain… or cycle down to IGA or Foodworks for my groceries), clipless pedals, lights, mudguards, bike computer (for the time, distance travelled, speed etc) drink bottles, tool kit, helmet, cycling shorts and shirt.
My research has paid off and I am loving my new bike. In the last few weeks I’ve clocked up over 450km cycling around the Barham/Koondrook area and rediscovered the fun and freedom of bike riding… I’ve also discovered when riding with cleats it pays to remember to unclip your shoes before you actually want to stop (stopping whilst still attached to the pedals is not fun nor good for one’s dignity).