Dec 7

Classic Bikes

Taken from the Blazing Saddles Column in the Tayside Courier Weekend Supplement 7.4.12

Scot Tares extols the beauty of the bicycle.

“Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world.” – Grant Petersen

I have often felt sorry for bicycles that spend the best days of their lives quietly neglected in a shed, the rubber of their tyres never tasting the dust of the trails or sweetness of the tarmac. A bicycle is a perfect union of practicality, sport and down-right good fun and deserves to be ridden and loved by its owner. It approaches perfection in each of the many ways it is used and is quite possibly one of the most efficient machines ever invented. Cycling can be so many things to so many different people and the sheer versatility of the bicycle is what creates a passion among those who ride them.

For many the form and design of a bike is an art-form in itself and the beauty and flow of these creations can often be a contradiction to the extreme conditions that these machines are ridden under. Today we think of mountain bikes as being the tough bearers of burden that will stand all sorts of punishment doled out to them, but bikes have been ridden in this way from their very creation.

A new coffee table book, “The Competition Bicycle” by Jan Heine, details the evolution of the high performance bicycle and is packed with evocative photographs of iconic bicycle designs, many ridden by the great champions of the sport. The development of the bike is charted through its history and the existence of such a book only serves to emphasise the widely held appreciation of these masterpieces.

One section that stands out is the track racing machine that Frank Bartell rode to a “Motor-paced World Record” in 1935, setting an astounding 80.5mph on a bike with wooden wheel rims and a weight of 12kg, which by today’s standards is not light. The photographs show a bike that is simple in design and the dents in the steel tubing show that it has been used in anger on the track. Another is the Bianchi used by the legendary Fausto Coppi in the 1949 Tour de France. Its well-worn paintwork tells many stories of battles won and lost and shows a bicycle that has been and still is loved.

No matter what bike you are riding, whether it’s a design classic or a contemporary carbon warrior, this week’s route is a short easy one suitable for all makes and models:

Scot Tares

Cycle Route – Lonforgan – Abernyte

The Route: Longforgan – Abernyte – Longforgan
OS 1:50,000 Map 53 – NO 309300
Starting in Longforgan the rider should cycle through the A90 underpass, heading north on the unclassified road towards the Knapp. The road slowly climbs up beyond the Knapp before the rider should turn left at East Newton Farm. The route then climbs up towards a T-junction where the rider should turn left and follow the swooping descent down through Abernyte and towards Inchture, crossing over the A90. Heading south from Inchture the rider should follow the long straight section until a left turn at Little Powgavie takes you to Rawes, where turning left again the route heads back to Longforgan.
Distance: 11.43 miles/18.4 km
Height gain: 358ft/109 m

“The Competition Bicycle – The craftsmanship of Speed” is available from Rizzoli ISBN 978-0-8478-3841-7

Copyright DC Thompson 2012

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