It’s nearly time for the Tweed Ride, Novocastrians ! It’s on August 28 this year – refer to the Bicycles in Newcastle blog for details – and attend if you can – we should be grateful that there are people prepared to put in the effort to keep this great event going !
I do tend to get a bit reflective at Tweed Ride time, and sometimes think of such pressing things as “Which bike to ride ?” or “What clothes will I wear ?” and although my Gazelle is a perfect bike for this event I still like to use an old Aussie bike if I can, and I prefer to use a different machine each year, for variety.
The 2011 Toer Populair has been covered in detail in one of my earliest blog posts, and that post has the longest comment thread of any on this blog – which has probably also helped sell a few for Royal Dutch Gazelle !
Today I had the feeling to take it out for a gentle 20 odd km. spin, to clear the head a little.
This bike would have to be my favourite for seeking out photos when I’m out and about, because of the commanding views it encourages me to take in when I’m perched upright, high on its sprung B66 saddle.
I don’t use it all the time, but when I do it’s like a breath of fresh air. There are a few differences compared with riding a road bike of course, and these include the following — My “Toerpopulati” ! :
1) It’s best to spin, not mash, the pedals – this bike weighs about as much as two steel road bikes and accelerates accordingly ! To save the knees, I don’t usually go above 5th or 6th of the 8 gears on the flat, and I change down as soon as my cadence drops a bit in a headwind or up a rise. I pretend I am driving a truck, and gear change accordingly ! Probably good advice for any geared bike, really..
Once up to speed it will glide along beautifully on the flat.
Unless one has iron quads and knees, 7th and 8th gears are for soft pedalling down hills. On the flat, wind resistance at speed will stop you from using these gears with a proper cadence unless you are in a paceline (lol).
2) One can’t really stand up on the pedals – firstly, balance is compromised and second, it doesn’t look right ! One can, however, only if no-one is looking, lean forward and hold the bars near the stem for a slight aerodynamic advantage …
3) When doing slow sharp turns one may need to shift the inside knee out under and beyond the inside bar grip when the inside pedal is down, and back again once the turn is completed – this is actually easier than it sounds !
4) Due to the rack and basket, I often mount the bike by first starting to roll standing sidesaddle on the left pedal, then lifting my right foot over the top tube – easy if you have good bike balance.
( Taking care not to scratch the lovely paintwork of course ! )
5) Much as with a tandem, it’s good form not to curse when climbing long hills … it will help to imagine the fun and speed you’ll have when the long descent finally arrives.
Spin the lowest gear you can cadence up on and if necessary be prepared to walk it – that gives your quads a little recovery time as well !
6) The bike does beautiful long slow turns at moderate speeds and encourages one to lean in line with it – and that feels great.
7) The Nexus 8 hub is pretty much faultless as long as one remembers to ease off the pedals when changing – Sturmey Archer 3sp. users will understand what I mean here.
8) Roller brakes are a very gentle way of stopping – think well ahead and you’ll be fine !
9) You will look silly on a “ToerPop” wearing any kind of lycra – don’t even think about it !
10) You will be dropped by any moderately fit person on a good road bike – but if you’re like me, you most probably won’t care. Just keep going, and imagine the reverse if you two were to swap bikes.
I’ve had very few dramas with this bike : some broken spokes, some surface rust on the head fittings and a dicky switch and blown halogen on the Lumotec head lamp. Broken spokes are usually due to uneven tension, so I recently checked the front ones with my Park Tool tension meter and evened them out while truing.
The front roller brake is fairly easy to remove for spoke replacement, although the back wheel could be time consuming because of the chain case and Nexus cassette joint. Minor adjustment of spokes could be accomplished with the rear wheel in the frame.
Happy Tweed ‘n’ Toer-ing !!