Leaning into a left turn at 19 mph off, I was off to a flying start on my first ride of the season on my Trek 1.2 road bike. On the two-block long downhill immediately after the turn, I hit 25 mph. I was heading to the Glacial Drumlin Trail on my fast bike, the one that I ride strictly for fun. And I was having a good time. Sometimes, you just want to go fast. This was one of those days.
The weather in Wisconsin was finally headed toward summer, and it was time to break out my road bike. Until the salt, broken bits of concrete, and other debris are cleared from Waukesha’s winter-ravaged streets, I ride my 18-year-old Trek 7200 hybrid. It is my everyday bike.
It is the bicycle that I ride to work. Weighed down with a carrying rack and panniers to carry my lunch, rain suit, and other commuter gear, the bike is outfitted with upright handlebars and wide tires to maneuver streets littered with debris in the spring and leaves in the fall. It’s sturdy, carries a load, and is always ready to go no matter the weather. And because it is an older bike, mud isn’t a concern.
My road bike, on the other hand, is like a sports car. It’s stripped down, lightweight, and built for speed. It is flat out fun to ride. The bike serves no other purpose, but that is plenty.
Since I was 19 years old, I’ve always owned two or more bikes. Bikes fulfill different functions. Owning more than one bicycle make it easier to ride in varying circumstances. I cut my bicycle fleet from four to two in recent years because I wasn’t riding the other bikes. Two is enough at this point in my life. Of course, that is subject to change. (I’m thinking about a fat tire bike to ride in the winter.)
Like I said, bikes serve different purposes. The road bike is for going fast, so I will generally wear cycling shorts, cleats, and gloves. These protect the contact points (hands, feet and crotch) and help me to stay on the bike for extended periods of time. When it’s cold, I’ll add layers and a pair of tights. When it gets so cold that I need long pants and boots to keep warm, I put away the road bike and use my everyday bike.
The everyday bike requires no special clothing or shoes, which makes it easy to ride. If I want to go for a quick ride to the store, or just for fun, there’s no need to change clothes.
Dual-sided pedals add to the bike’s versatility. A cleat set is mounted on one side of the pedals for the days when I want to clip in and go for a long ride. The other side is a solid platform, which enables me to ride in regular shoes. I can even ride in boots when it is really cold.
I add or subtract gear from my everyday bike as needed. When I want to ride on the weekend, but conditions aren’t right for my road bike, I’ll remove the panniers and add a handlebar bag to hold my phone, wallet and keys. Lights can be added or removed in a few seconds. The bike is versatile, and helps me get out on days when I don’t want to ride my road bike.
Any day that I can get out on the bike is a good day to me. Bikes for different conditions, and pedals that can adapt to the kind of riding that I want to do on a particular day, make it easier for me to get out more often. And that is a good thing.