“Cycling had simply taken over everything, work was no longer a place of deep misery – it was just a shell that the cycling club operated from. Riding to work was great, bike talk started from the moment you parked – then lunch time ride, followed by the feeling of euphoria for the rest of the afternoon whilst guzzling recovery products and then a ride back home. Cycling, bikes, more bikes and weight loss. All good.
Now along with bikes comes the geekery of components and specification, and here we were becoming masters of the art. Not only were we becoming more selective as cycling fever grabbed hold, with the endless overtaking and re-overtaking the lunch time ride had become super competitive. The bikes had to keep up too, we deserved serious kit now…
There is not much of a story in this other than the increased obsession with cycling and riding – the cycling fever in full swing.
That was until one Monday morning there had been an arrival. A gathering was huddled in the corner of the office, looked like school boys who’d just rumbled someone’s copy of Penthouse, there were wide eyes and something was causing quite a stir.
A Colnago frame was in the room.
For me this was the first time I’d seen such a thing in the flesh – now I’d already heard the name mentioned but had not really understood the whole Italian cycling thing, especially amongst Brits. Bit alien, it certainly seemed to hit a nerve with the older guys who seemed to know a bit more.
I eyed up the paint. Initial thoughts were it was pretty. Pretty garish that is. So many colours, ugly typefaces and just so much ‘pomp and ass’ – and at the end of the day it was aluminium. Didn’t everyone know a top end frame had to be titanium?
That was certainly my thinking at the time, and that’s why all the money I had went into bringing a Litespeed ‘Classic’ to the UK from the states. Now the Litespeed was a proper bike, the thing barely even had stickers – every penny had gone into metal and the welders skill – none of this airbrushed paint fancy pants stuff. I mean the Colnago has a little picture of a cyclist on the top tube! what a bloody disgrace! This ‘Dream Lux‘ was more like a bad trip, a nightmare mish mashed of colours and shapes.
I grew to hate the Colnago, as it dished out the pain every lunchtime. It was either out of sight, passing by or I was looking at the back of it. Bloody thing was always there. Then there was the Campagnolo mystery. Having grown up with mountain bikes and Shimano, this was a closed World, confusing and incompatible. More Italian stuff. What was it all about?
I continued my journey with the Litespeed, a mirror polished beauty. Springy (too springy in fact), lovely and smooth (far too large also but we’ll save the black art of bike fitting another day) an American utilitarian dream, a super bike of its time with the then ‘must have’ bike being the very first Trek Madone. America rocked in 2003.
Then one day it all fell into place, the mystery became complete understanding and things were never the same again.
Through twists of fate and time the Colnago I had despised for all its Italian flair had become mine. Worse for wear, unloved and beaten – it needed a home.
After bringing the bike back to life by splashing out on colour coordinated tyres, bar tape, pedals and replacing the cassette and chain which were now all Dura Ace – we were ready to roll.
I must say I felt rather conspicuous riding the thing. Much like you would be driving John Lennon’s Rolls Royce – we are no longer in the middle ground, its either way cool or way not. I was undecided.
However, minutes in the saddle told me that this was a new experience.
Nothing I had ridden handled like this, or felt as ‘together’ – the bike was an absolute joy to throw around and it begged to be ridden hard and fast. The ride was unforgiving, rigid, totally different to my lazy Litespeed. No flex. The position on the bike meant business. This was a true, hardcore racing bike.
I’d fallen in love. Everything made sense and although it’s a cliche that ‘there’s something about Colnago’ it certainly seemed true.
As I return home and parked my new friend in the garage, my mind turned to the conversation I’d had with the previous owner of the Road Ace, my first proper racing bike and the smug look on his face when he said he’d traded up to a Colnago.
Now it made sense. I’d experienced the cycling equivalent of taking a Ferrari for a spin, and from that there is no going back.
Until next time… ciao