Let me take you waaaay back. Back to the year 2012. Road cycling had been gaining mainstream popularity year on year, but was about to really explode in the UK. At the Tour de France, Mark Cavendish took an incredible fourth-in-a-row victory on the Champs Elysees wearing the World Champs jersey and Bradley Wiggins rolled home in the Yellow Jersey.
Ten days later, Bradley Wiggins went on to win Gold in the Olympic Time Trial. I was out there, spectating both the road race and time trial. It really fired up my passion for cycling!
I’d been dabbling in “road cycling” over the past year or two, mostly just by myself in the country lanes around Berkshire and Bucks, with the occasional shop ride thrown in. I was still on my Specialized Sirrus flat-bar hybrid. Stem slammed, bars cut down narrow and rolling on 23mm tyres, I had to do what I could to eek out some extra free speed. I’d also been saving up to purchase a “proper” road bike.
Finally, I managed to save enough pennies to splash out on a Ribble 7046 road bike! Many hours of internet searches and reading had led to this. A lightweight alloy frame with carbon fork, Shimano 105 (triple!) groupset and Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels. It was a HUGE step up!
Black and red: The ultimate colour combination!
I absolutely LOVED that bike – my first speed machine – it really levelled up my cycling and of course my fitness. I started racking up the miles, going from an occasional weekend cyclist to a fairly capable club cyclist. I even completed my first Rapha Festive 500 on that machine. It certainly wasn’t anything special in the scheme of things, but I never for one moment felt like the bike held me back.
I’m not sure how many miles I covered on the trusty Ribble (some pre-Strava) but it never once let me down or caused my any grief. External cabling, rim brakes, alloy wheels, 105, a true workhorse. The Ribble certainly took me on some adventures and I met some great people along the way.
Towards the end it did get a little neglected, seeing more than it’s fair share of grimy UK winter rides, but even so it was still a special bike to me. Unfortunately when I moved from the UK to Australia, I didn’t have room to bring it with me and I had to let the Ribble go.
But still, you never forget your first! 😁
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You’ve brought back some great memories – I was marshalling for both the road races (at Westcott just before Dorking) and the time trials. Happy days.
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Good times. I was spectating on the lower section of Box Hill for the road race. Was incredible seeing them fly up the climb each lap!
I have fond memories of my first road bike as well: a Miele steel frame with downtube shifters and 105. I kept it in storage for decades, occasionally taking it for a spin when I was back for visits to Vancouver. It was made in Canada and I bought it new in 1987. I sadly sold it in 2021.
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That’s an interesting post. I’m really thought about the bike being tied to fitness. But having had my better steel bike stolen (as you know) and on a slower slower, heavier one I’ve noticed a decrease, even with more gears. Before both of those, I was doing longer, faster distances on my previous bike, a flat bar Fuji hybrid with plenty of gears. If incan ever manage a proper bike, maybe my enjoyment and thus fitness will improve. Thanks for the post and thought.
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A good bike that you enjoy riding gives a big mental boost, which in turn makes you ride more, which increases your fitness.
Well said. Interesting how sports psychology works. Now, if that new bike will just magically appear. New body, too.