Best time in history to be a cyclist

NotthatJasonKenny

Faster on HFLC
Location
Bolton
I recently told my great Uncle (Eric Kenny age 80's) who used to race as a lad that I had got into cycling and I was training for the 55 mile cat&fiddle. He looked at me scornfully (he's a nice bloke really!) and told me they used to ride 100/150 miles TO a race, then race, then ride home, back in the day, they had to, no one had cars then! Before anyone asks, yes we're from Farnworth, Bolton, but amazingly, no relation, unless there is something he's not telling me!

Anyway, it made me think, with the bike tech, gps, strava etc, are we living in the best time to be a cyclist, if not when and why?
 

Globalti

Legendary Member
Yes, first the arrival of mountain bikes on the scene; like it or not, they have been responsible for the massive resurgence in cycling by ordinary people.

And the arrival of carbon fibre on the scene, providing lightweight and comfortable bikes especially on the road.
 

Mr Haematocrit

msg me on kik for android
One of the things I'm personally interested in is bike tech, which is why I run things such as oval chain rings, ceramic bearings, electronic group sets on my bikes. My bikes are now entertainment and fun rather than my only and main form of transport which must have been the case in the past due to the fact your uncle stated "no one had cars". I find there is a massive difference in the experience of doing something because you want to and choose to rather than because you have to or it is your only option. For me its the best time ever to ride a bike.
I personally think your Uncle is looking at that time with road coloured shades on as riding 100/150 miles TO a race, then race, then ride home, is a great amount of distance which without including the race distance means they were doing 200/300 miles if you count both ways. To do 300 miles at constant 20mph takes 15 hours even today. If you count time for waiting for the race to start, the time in the race and the energy this consumes, getting your results etc, stopping for food, drink, toilet stop etc on the way to or from the event and they could be riding for a massive amount of time.
 

dellzeqq

pre-talced and mighty
Location
SW2
there were more heroic times. We cycled to John O'Groats in jeans, slept rough in fields, subsisted on bread rolls....and our local CTC mag recounts tales of teenagers cycling to Spain sustained by a bag of sugar (this is a very slight exaggeration, but only slight).

I wouldn't go back, though. I love today's bikes, I love being one of thousands on the road in the morning, I love the camaderie that one can find on t'internet, and the friendships that grow from that. And I reckon it's improving all the time.
 

sidevalve

Über Member
As with many things I suspect there were many "golden ages" [improved in most cases with a good dose of rosyspecitus]. I agree with Globalti about the mountain bikes as up till then cycling tended [or seemed to, which is more important] be limited to a few hard dedicated types who pushed high gears on [for the time] expensive racers kids or "poor people" saving up for a car. I would also add indexing of the gears as it made the bike seem more "user friendly". However I must disagree about carbon fibre [unless we are using the term "road" when we mean "race"] as there are are many fine,lightweight and fast road bikes about without what is still an expensive commodity.
Finally, not too sure how the modern bike can be improved on now, as, at days end it's power unit is and always must be the same and it has developed into a pretty effective animal.
 

Globalti

Legendary Member
I reckon that in five years hydraulic disc brakes will be common on road bikes. Manufacturers will bring out lightweight pared down versions of their mountain bike brakes, which for almost no weight penalty will give better all-weather stopping power than rim brakes, will allow more flexibility in rim design, will last longer in wet gritty conditions and of course more importantly to the bike industry, will create commercial demand for a new product and keep us all spending our lolly. For these reasons discs are increasingly commonplace on fast, lightweight commuter bikes. Purists will of course continue to swear by their rim brakes.

In 20 years of mountain biking I progressed from standard straddle-wire brakes to V brakes and then hydraulic discs, with a massive improvement in performance each time. The latest Avid hydraulics are a revelation, substantially smaller, lighter and better than my old MK1 Hope minis and I can't wait to buy something equivalently elegant, lightweight and efficient for the multi-purpose cross/winter trainer bike that I plan to build myself.
 
And the arrival of carbon fibre on the scene, providing lightweight and comfortable bikes especially on the road.
newsflash - I used to ride a lightweight, comfortable, custom steel frame back in the early 90s. Comfort has nothing to do with frame material.
 

Mr Haematocrit

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Although I wonder if in the past there was less snobbery about bikes - or maybe I didn't notice it because I was young and none of my friends had very flash bikes either.
Perhaps that was because more people in the past used bikes specifically as transport, rather than entertainment or a hobby like myself.

Having said that I greatly dislike where is a tendency by some to judge you based on what you ride, although I would like to point out that there are as many people with high end flash bikes commenting on people with more reasonably priced bikes as there are people with reasonably priced bikes making judgments about people with expensive rides, it seems to go both ways.
Personally if your bike makes you smile, that's all that matters as nobody else is riding it !!
 

Globalti

Legendary Member
newsflash - I used to ride a lightweight, comfortable, custom steel frame back in the early 90s. Comfort has nothing to do with frame material.
So why didn't road cycling boom twenty years ago as it seems to be doing now?

At the time I was losing interest in mountain biking I bought and restored a 1990 steel-framed bike, made from respected Columbus SLX tubing. It was a nice bike but it was heavy, twitchy and it beat me up so I began to wonder if road riding was for me. My first ride on a carbon bike was an absolute revelation in comfort and weight and was entirely responsible for my complete move over to road riding.
 
So why didn't road cycling boom twenty years ago as it seems to be doing now?
All the smart money was playing golf in the 90s - these days, all the smart money is on pushbikes. Either way I doubt if it had anything to do with frame material. Road racing was on its arse back then, but on the upside, getting entries was no problem. Comfort is down to fit and tyre pressures - not much else.
 
Everything above is hogwash.

The Golden Age of cycling is always the year (or even month) before the person you're talking to started cycling.
 

Herbie

Veteran
Location
Aberdeen
I recently told my great Uncle (Eric Kenny age 80's) who used to race as a lad that I had got into cycling and I was training for the 55 mile cat&fiddle. He looked at me scornfully (he's a nice bloke really!) and told me they used to ride 100/150 miles TO a race, then race, then ride home, back in the day, they had to, no one had cars then! Before anyone asks, yes we're from Farnworth, Bolton, but amazingly, no relation, unless there is something he's not telling me!

Anyway, it made me think, with the bike tech, gps, strava etc, are we living in the best time to be a cyclist, if not when and why?
Old boys always try to embellish things...my old man is the same..its always in my day we did this in my day we did that :smile:
 
Everything above is hogwash.

The Golden Age of cycling is always the year (or even month) before the person you're talking to started cycling.
Sorry, that's hogwash as well. I started cycling competitively in the late 80s, but I'm happy to say that we're in a proper 'golden era' now....
 
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