My dearest old friend has a new coat. It’s a black coat and it suits him rather well. And he deserves it too. It’s 21 years since his last.
My Webster (a custom-built Columbus Max OR steel cross country bike) was born in 1994, wrought into existence amid the fiery coalpits of Leicester, and forced into reality through a dark hole in my psyche left by the theft of my previous bike. (I’ve nearly gotten over the theft now and consider Leicester a lovely place.)
It was originally painted in British Racing Green. Partly because it looked nice, but mostly so it would blend in along the wooded tracks of Beacon Hill – the only proper hill for miles around, and strictly out of bounds to cyclists. It blended with aplomb, looping up and down the hill regularly, before I forced it to earn it’s keep properly on coast to coast crossings of England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and Spain, as well as the weekly blast around the highways and byways of the midlands, and endless stolen weekends in the mountains of mid-Wales.
The frame was built just as V-brakes were appearing on the market, and sports a cantilever mount which made do until I could afford the original Shimano Deore XT parallelagram V’s which have now finally been retired. Some old-skool tech just can’t be beaten though, and so I’ve kept the old square taper BB running (still smooth.)
Straight-taper forks have always been a design favourite of mine. Simple and elegantly beautiful.
Of course, the real beauty of a bike lies in the riding, so for it’s first outing in new colours….
Y Ffordd Ddu (The Black Road) climbs out of Dolgellau along the north face of Cader Idris, passing Llyn Gwernant and the Cregennan Lakes.
Tarmaced for the majority of the climb it’s a steady burner with the steep ridges of the mountain towering above. As you climb higher the road turns steep and rocky, making it a no-go for road bikes.
It rewards one’s efforts with views across the Mawddach Estuary towards Abermaw (Barmouth)
The ride home ends with a wander around Trawsfynydd…
…before a steep descent into Llanfigangel with views along the Dysynni valley and up to the highest peaks of Cader Idris.
In the end, I don’t really think it matters what colour my bike is. I still love it, and it’s proper fun to ride. Everywhere.