You know you’re a cycling old-timer when…….

1. Your mileometer (near the bottom of the forks) stops working because the little fly wheel has fallenodometer_3151_miles off.

2. Your 40 year old black leather cycling shoes, despite their age and wear, shine from recent polishing, and are kept pinioned to the pedals by toe straps.

3. Someone has a puncture in the group, and you are the only one with a frame-fitting, high pressure pump.

4. While others are sporting the latest in aerodynamic helmets, you fervently eschew pressure and continue to wear that tatty old CTC cap.

Frame pump5. You have ignored all improvements to the gearing set-up of bikes over the years, and continue to reach down to the down-tube to change gears.

6. You’re out with a new group one day and, half way through the ride, you shout out: “Anyone for a drum up?”. Everyone looks at you questioningly…….. Click here for an explanation.

7. That tatty old saddlebag, covered with old cycling pennants and turning a rusty grey colour, has been hanging from the back of your saddle since 19…. And the sandwiches in it are equally old.

8. Somebody (dressed in sleek lycra), but older even than you, rides up behind you and chats for a while, obviously slowing down to your pace. He speaks to you as if you were an old doddery from a nursing home.

9. ….talking of lycra. “What’s that?” you say. “Oh, is it something like that spandex stuff they use in bondage movies?”. You resolutely continue to wear woollen tops and khaki shorts.

10. Joining a new, and younger, group one day, everyone is puzzled when they hear you shouting “Oil up!” and “Oil down!” Click here for explanation.

11. Someone in the group suffers a broken chain. Everyone looks to you for assistance. You open your saddlebag and pull out a large greasy bundle wrapped in an old oil rag. You open it up and, before everyone’s eyes, you display a huge array of tools and spare parts that would service an entire TdeF team. They are glad to have you in the group…….

12. You may appear old and dowdy to some modern roadies, but you’ll catch people admiring the finely painted lugwork of your much loved Curly Hetchins.

13. When asked what you are training for this season, you look vacantly at your questioner and eventually say: “For the

A lightweight camping weekend?

A lightweight camping weekend?

next piece of chocolate cake. What else is there to train for?”.

14. When asked by a keen roadie what your resting heart rate is, you look at him a bit puzzled and say: “Well, I’m alive…..!”

15. A lightweight camping weekend means carrying four full panniers, a large saddlebag and handlebar bag, a stuff sack bungee’d on the back…… and a musette as your ‘buttie bag’.

16. You’ve always hated Lance Armstrong. Not because he doped, but because he virtually pioneered the fashion of wearing black Black-Dot-Sockscycling socks. For you, white socks will always be de rigeur, even when they have gone a dull, nasty grey from years of use.

17. As the decades have passed, your chainrings have progressed from a 53/39 to a 50/34, then to a 44/32/22…….until you realise that you can walk up the hills faster than riding them.

18. Buying bikes has always been a hobby. Selling them has never entered your head. Every time you need to look for a tool or spare part in the garage, you have to pull out 5 or 6 bikes to even reach the shelves…….and then the drama begins when you start looking for the item you need amongst all the junk.maptrap_2_hi

19. When all are sporting the latest electronic gadgetry on their handlebars, you still swear by the full OS map secured by a maptrap.

20. A large group of ‘young guns’ breeze past at more than twice your speed, and you are heard to mutter “No f*#!%*g respect for experience!”


About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on February 15, 2015, in Cycling UK and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. From one old bike rider to another, very nice. Regarding Number 18, the ideal number of bikes to own is n + 1. N equals the number you currently own.

  2. Saved up for a mileometer when I were a yoof. Just loved the reassuring click!

  3. All Ive got to say is “oh christ that is me!”

    • …..we all hang on to habits of the past. It’s all part of our ‘comfort zone’. I still wear white socks, for instance… socks look as if you just stepped from your suit into your lycra, and climbed on the bike….

  4. Hi Frank,

    Yes, much of what you say is quite true.

    Among all my machines acumulated over the years, my favourite is still my 1964 Maclean built from 531 DB tubing and Nervex professional fancy lugs.
    Bought new as my road racing/geared time trialing bike having 52/48 rings.
    This now has 42/32/22 rings and gear ratios from 19 to 81 inches and I have worn out two Carridice Camper long flap saddlebags ( which used to be handy for carrying the drum-up gear ) and my third Longflap is nicely craddled on my Longstaff tricycle rear rack.

    My friend Keith Wright of the Chippenham Wheelers says that you know when you have completed your cycling apprenticeship when you are on your Third Carradice Cotton Duck saddlebag.

    The other self test for cycling maturity is “can you still read the print on your beloved Bartholomew’s half inch maps without a magnifying glass?”

    Phil Lewis.

    Still youngish as it was in 2014 the government recognised that I was worth their sponsorship.

    • Funny that, Phil, I have just been on the phone to Carradice asking about the real capacity of their Camper Longflap. I’ve used a Super C for many years, for multi-week camping treks, and the Super C is actually the bigger bag. The Longflap only gains in capacity by actually extending the longflap, otherwise it is smaller.

  5. Agreed again Frank, but “IN MY DAY” Super C was not even a sparkle in Carradice’s eye.

    You mentioned the longflap extension……What an EXTENSION !

    It was called a camper longflap because you get the tent in the flap.


  6. Its January 1947 & I am pedaling the Hercules into a northwest blizzard in pitch dark,
    the dynamo wheel is slipping on the wet tyre but thank god for the Sturmey Archer.

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