Bikes, no matter how noteworthy, were never meant to be museum pieces, muses the Doc
As you may recall, I knocked most of my house down a few weeks ago. It’s a prelude to replacing it with a better
And even if Mrs. Doc has misgivings about how I’m handling the renovations, there will be space in it for humans as well as (I believe I’m quoting accurately), “pampered bicycles that should grow up, move out, and buy their own damn house.”
So we’re living in London at the moment. And one of the things I see almost every day is a Cervélo S3 road bike, in the special limited-edition Beijing Olympic paint finish.
It sits in a very swish Thames-side apartment, leaning against the huge balcony window. I see it most days from the riverside path. It never moves. The cranks are always at the same angle, and the valve-stems too.
There is something sad about it. I felt the same when I saw Chris Boardman’s Lotus from the Barcelona Olympics in a glass case in a museum, and again with Eddy Merckx’s Hour record bike, both sitting on their flat, perished tyres.
It reminded me of the mother of a schoolfriend who had the family’s Jack Russell stuffed and kept him in his basket in the kitchen. She used to Hoover him once a week. I’m not sure the Cervélo gets even that.
I was happier to run into one of Graeme Obree’s former bikes, growing old in the quiet gloom of a shed. At least a bike in a shed is in one of its natural environments. Bikes are not furniture. They are not things to just be looked at.
But one can always change one’s mind. I was beginning to sketch out some sort of plan for decorating our new house, and, despite everything I’ve just said, found myself thinking, “Why not include a bicycle or two? Why would I pay good money for something arty when I’ve got all manner of lovely bikes?
My Lotus would look nice on a wall here… my titanium frame from the 2006 Commonwealths could go behind the dining table in that alcove. It would have a lovely sheen if I put a spotlight here…”
“You want what?” said Mrs. Doc, who has heard my bicycles-are-not-furniture lecture more than once and knows a hypocrite when she sees one.
“It’s not enough that you want to give over half the new space to a bike store and workshop, you want to use the rest to run a personal bike museum?”
I was ready, though, and unveiled my masterstroke.
“It’s not going to be a museum,” I said.
“It’s going to be a celebration of cycling — the bikes aren’t going to be left to get dusty, I’m going to use them as well. They’ll bring a feeling of dynamism and movement right into the house, like living things.”
In my head I heard this in the voice of Kevin McCloud from Grand Designs.
Out loud, however, it sounded a lot more thin and pleading.
“Do you remember our first flat?” said Mrs. Doc. “The one-bedroomed place that we shared with seven bicycles, which you kept on the dining table for five years, along with two turbo trainers, a toolbox and six race wheels?”
I said that I did.
“Did I enthuse about the dynamism and movement you created there?”
So that was that. The bikes will stay in their bespoke, temperature-stabilised bike store, on some custom racks I’m having built.
But it seems very unfair, especially considering that I know a Cervélo S3 that has its own riverside apartment.
Mrs. Doc has suggested I might like to move in with it instead. I’m not even sure she’s joking.