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Tolkein's Bicycle Fantasy (Well, sort of.)
By Chip Haynes
a.k.a. "Lord of the Chain Rings"
This piece by first appeared in Mason's Wire Donkey Bike Zine. Subscription information follows this article.
One Bike to rule them all,
One Bike to find them,
One Bike to bring them all
And in the darkness ride them.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know: He wasn't talking about bicycles. He was talking about jewelry. Barbara Bush's pearls, most likely. But One Bike? What if it came down to that? What if the Bicycle Wraiths showed up at your house tomorrow afternoon, woke you from a nice nap and said you had an hour to figure out which One Bike (of all of your bikes) you would keep? That's not a fantasy--that's a nightmare. But could you do it? Could you ride just one bike? Could I?
I've got 25. How easy would it be to get it down to one? Well, let's see: We can toss the two high wheelers. No great loss there. And I have no plans to ride my 1896 bike any time soon, so that's an easy one. And I weigh too much for the Pee Wee Herman scooter that hangs above my work bench. Four easy ones, right off the top. Twenty to go.
One bike, eh? Okay, let's rule out the Chinese rickshaw. It's cool, but hardly practical. The Manila Folder is geared far too low to use on a regular basis, and the Moulton is too tall. The LeRun is just hinkey--an easy out there. The '55 Schwinn is mighty heavy--nice to look at, though. Cross that one off the list. Where are we? Fifteen to go?
Okay, the black Raleigh Twenty, the pink Centurian mixte and the blue Schwinn Cruiser 5 belong to my wife, JoAnn, not me. Twelve to go? Fine. Give me a minute.
Queen Anne's Revenge, my fixed gear road bike, is a delight to ride, but hardly practical on a daily basis. Likewise the Hot Rod Schwinn is a blast, but not much of a distance machine. My one supremely practical bike is almost too practical--the Bob Jackson is complete overkill for 99% of the riding I do these days. And the Raleigh Super Course is sooooooooo 70's.
Eight more? Okay: The Jawa folder hardly gets ridden anyway, and the J.C. Higgins belongs to my mother-in-law. The Road Puppy is still in a box in the rafters. Likewise, the Phillips is in a thousand pieces all over the garage, but would, admittedly, be a likely candidate if it were done. And let's cross the Schwinn tandem off the list--it looks too odd to ride that one alone.
Three bikes left: The Schwinn trike, the five-speed BCA and my Raleigh Twenty folder. Let's go ahead and eliminate the Schwinn trike for now. It's too hard to ride any great distance, and has no speed whatsoever. Maybe some day I'll come back to it. Choosing between the Raleigh Twenty and the BCA would be tough. The Raleigh has carried me thousands of miles over the years, and does so quite well, but: The BCA has 26" wheels that roll much smoother, making it an easier pedal on the longer rides. Both are set up do daily commuting and feature a similar gear range, with the BCA offering two extra gears within that range.
OK, that's it. You Bike Wraith guys have to leave. I'm not choosing. I don't have to. I'm keeping ALL of my bikes. Every last one of them. You should, too. No reason not to. THIS IS AMERICA! I GOT RIGHTS!
Don't forget to keep all of your bike tires pumped!
To subscribe to Mason's Wire Donkey Bike Zine, contact Mason St. Clair at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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