Recently I’ve embarked on one of my crazy obsessive periods where I latch on to something I’m interested in and pursue it to within an inch of it’s life, usually followed by some massive purchase I can’t really afford. Millichamp and Hall cricket bat, Badder Plaetarium orthoscopic telescope eyepiece, Clarrie Grimmett’s elusive books, these are just three of a long list.
My new object of obsession is a bicycle. It’s the Pashley Roadster Sovereign, a hand-made, old fashioned English roadster. I just came back from Halfords, the second bike shop I’ve visited in two days, and to get an idea of the level of obsession I’m talking about I was able to tell the guy in there more about the bike – significantly more – than he could tell me. If there’s a YouTube video or a blogpost that mentions this bike I’ve probably watched it or read it in the last week, and I’ve also been on the Sturmey Archer website downloading the instruction manual for the hub gears, in addition to spending considerable time on the Pashley website and that of the saddle’s maker, Brooks. It’s insane.
So what do I like about it? In short, everything. I like the hub-mounted brakes and gears, the dynamo-powered front light (I’m looking into a possible mudguard mounted dynamo-powered rear to replace the rear battery-powered LED, which I think is a bit ugly), the steel frame hand-built in Warwickshire, the gold detailing of the mudguards, the upright riding posture, the double-sprung saddle, everything. I’m not a Lycra-festooned cycle nut and haven’t ridden my DIY-hybridised mountain bike for years, but I’m thinking if I had this bike, maybe I’d cycle more? While that may be true there’s a strong possibility that’s just me trying to justify an unjustifiable expense.
And it’s quite an expense. My father thinks the price is ridiculous, (it’s not. High, yes, but by all accounts worth the money) but I did get one over him when I pointed out one could buy perfectly serviceable cars for much less than the price of his lovely Jaguar… Mum seems to approve of the style if not the price, but Grandma was left cold by it. I suppose she doesn’t get “retro” because she was alive the first time round. As for my girlfriend she probably just wishes I’d shut up about it, but she’s been pretty indulgent so far. She did make the sensible suggestion of giving the obsession time to either confirm its rightness or else dissipate, which would save a lot of cash. I’ve said I may get it as a reward after my next pay rise, but it seems unlikely I’ll be disciplined enough to wait that long!