About Geordie Clarke

Journalist and wine enthusiast.

Long train running

Okay, so the title doesn’t really fit but Tim has a predilection for using song names as headings for his blog posts so I thought I would toe the line here. However, being the relatively lazy person I am (everything written to deadline in a flurry), I haven’t bothered to embed a video into this article.

I’m sure you’ll cope.

Anyway, back to bikes. Tim has flown off to some warm island in the Med likely best known as a destination for Brits on package holidays, although I can confirm it isn’t Ibiza, so wipe that image of him hopped up on ecstasy, dancing to trance music with a dummy in his mouth. The chances of that happening are minute compared to the likelihood you might find me drinking Piat d’Or. And that in itself is unlikely since I’d rather drink antifreeze than allow that swill down my throat.

As I’m sure you may have discovered from one of Tim’s previous posts, I’m a journalist by day and a cycling and wine enthusiast by night (and day when I let my mind wander). While I’d love to write about wine – or even beer – in these pages, what I’ll do instead is guff about my bikes for a few hundred words. I’ll even post some pretty pictures. And everyone will rejoice.

Being a Canadian who grew up in the wilds of British Columbia, cycling has been in my life longer than I can remember. Mountain biking was the activity of choice (when we weren’t playing hockey) and I rode various Norcos, Nishikis and Konas well into my early 20s.

And then I sat down with my father to watch the Tour de France and I was hooked on road riding.

This was 2002. I remember my father watching Tour de France coverage in the late 1980s, likely the highlights broadcast by CBS or maybe even TSN, but I was too young to care then. But in 2002 Lance Armstrong was at his peak and the coverage was everywhere. Within two months of falling in love with road cycling, I’d bought myself a cheap KHS Flite 700 road bike and sold my Kona Nunu, which I’d actually only just bought the year before.

You can see my red KHS in this photo. After nearly 10 years of service, I replaced it with a Planet X Ti Pro Road in late 2011.

I move quickly when I want something badly. If I can afford it. That KHS was my primary road bike between 2002 and 2007. I wanted other things, but a lack of money always got in the way. Until I got a grown-up job, that is.

These days, my primary bike is a 2006 Condor Leggero, all carbon and light as I’ll ever need it to be.

Switching to carbon from a cheap aluminum (or aluminium if you’re British) frame was a night-and-day change. I had never noticed how jarring and rigid the KHS was until I bought a carbon frame. From that point on, the KHS was relegated to bad weather duty, although I still didn’t like riding it much. Plus, with all the miles I was riding in the rain through the winter, the KHS was starting to corrode. Thus began my search for a titanium frame that could withstand the elements and give me the ride quality I sought, but for a cheaper price than the Condor.

I eventually ended up with a Planet X. I’d post photos of it here, but because I’m lazy and I tend to write against a deadline, I don’t have those images.

However, what I *can* show you is the first bike I built from the ground up from parts I scoured from various sources. What is it? A Surly! Yes, you might have thought Tim was the original Surly fan in this relationship but the fact is I got in there first. Two years ago I was looking for a bike that would carry my camping gear and take me wherever I wanted to travel. After doing a lot of research on various internet forums, the conclusion was obvious: Surly Long Haul Trucker.

I bought all the parts individually to suit my preferences and, one sunny afternoon in the early spring of 2010, assembled the Surly in Tim’s driveway. All went together smoothly and much faster than expected, although there was one moment when the cranks (which uses a two-piece, outboard bearing design)  weren’t sliding into the bottom bracket shell as easily as I had hoped and I yelled out, “Give me the mallet!” A very light tap slid everything into place and presto, the bike was complete.

Since then I’ve taken the Surly LHT on two camping trips with Tim, plus it’s also featured in the now-defunct Artemis Highland 100, an on- and off-road charity race measuring 83 miles in distance. I placed third despite the bike not being particularly light or racy and lacking suspension forks.

You may have read about Tim ordering himself a Surly Troll earlier this week. I like to think my decision to buy a Surly back in 2010 played a significant role in his decision to fall in love with this brand. Just maybe.

Anyway, now that I’ve bored you to tears, I leave you with a photo of the bike fully loaded as the manufacturer intended.