Lately, I have found myself doing more ‘Hike-a-bike’ than I realised I would be doing. I’m doing it because I am looking at all the old highways here in the Ariège.
The old chemins are often very steep and in a state of disrepair. A 20% gradient is also very common. I am guessing this is why they alone survived the great tarmac coverage like most other roads and routes in Europe. The old roads in the Pyrénées are just too steep for mechanised traffic.
Often, the gradient is too much for me and I have to walk but that’s okay, I don’t have a problem with this. In my youth that would obviously have caused me great concern, feelings of defeat by the mountain. Now it is just what it is and I have a much better relationship with the landscape and my bicycles than I did in my youth.
One of the difficult things I find about ‘Hike a bike’ is the transition.
When should I stop, when do I decide, that’s enough, it’s now too steep, time to walk? Often it will be the speed or the avoidance of hitting a rock that helps me make the decision to walk. More than once I have fallen off the bike because of hitting a rough patch, log or branch, and yes... running out of speed. This obviously becomes more acute the more tired I get.
I run double sided SPDs and much to my horror, I have found myself drawn to flat pedals! This flat pedal desire is often felt when I am sitting on the floor still clipped into the pedals after not getting unclipped in time. Painfully, this is becoming far too frequent on my exploration trips.
When I was a kid, toe clips were the thing. Christophe toe clips were the biggest brand. Clipless came in when I became a Junior. Part of me would like to re-visit toe clips and yes, maybe that’s just because they were named after Furthers ‘Spirit Rider’ Eugene Christophe. When I rode CycloCross, two pairs would be riveted together, we did not ride with cleats just thick ribs in our ‘Rivat’ cross boots. Pulling on the pedals was still possible and falling off the bike with feet still ‘strapped in’ was also still possible.
Back to now, my pedal thinking is SPD one side, Flat on the other! Something I would never have even looked at before working on Further. Further is pushing me in many directions I did not think I would go, which is very cool.