Welcome to Steel Rouleur! This is a blog mostly about my experiences riding bikes, and the conclusions I’ve come to along the way. If you want to start cycling but aren’t sure how to find time or what to focus on, I can help.
My riding is constantly evolving to fit my changing life. I have two young boys which means my frequent jaunts into the English countryside are now not so frequent. In order to spend as much time on my bikes as possible, I am now mainly a ‘lifestyle’ rider.
What the hell does that mean?!
Riding bikes as an integral part of every day life, of course! It means that the bicycle is my preferred mode of transport. Need to pick up some shopping? Bike. Taking the kids to the grandparents? Bike. Get to work? Bike. You get the picture.
I have been inspired to write about this because my riding has changed so much since becoming a father. I’m convinced the problems I encounter must be faced by many others! I used to ride for leisure or competition but now I ride to run errands or get somewhere!
Obviously, this is not a new idea! In the 1950s, cycling was the common man’s (and woman’s) mode of transport. During this time, the leading manufacturer, Raleigh were making nearly 2 million bikes a year. Even today, in many countries around the world, bikes are indispensable for daily life.
I passionately believe that cycling is a force for good in the world and it is partly this that brings me to write this blog. Getting out and riding in the outdoors has phenomenal benefits to physical and mental wellbeing. The best part is practically anyone can take part!
If you want to start cycling, I have some good news for you. It has literally never been a better time to ride a bike. What with recumbents, hand cycles, and e-bikes, more people than ever before are able to find a cycle that they can use to enhance their quality of life. So if you would like to make riding bikes an integral part of your lifestyle then, chapeau to you!
Why “Steel Rouleur”?
With my engineering background, I just couldn’t resist. In engineering, steel rules/rulers are considered the right choice if you want to measure anything accurately!
My bikes also just happen to be all made from steel. Steel is just my personal preferred choice, for reasons I will expand on (at great length!) in a future post.
Rouleur is a word in the cycling world reserved for riders who are proficient in rolling and flat terrain. Whether or not I actually fall into that category is up for some debate! It’s all relative I guess.
I also believe that cycling is a fantastic and fun way to improve resilience. Resilience (or maybe…steeliness…come on you can give me that!) is a quality that many of us in western society could use more of. Cycling can be a seriously tough pastime, and I’ve learnt a surprising amount about my own resilience, just by getting caught out by the weather or terrain!
What can I find here?
I have been riding bikes to get about for over 25 years, the about page has more information if you’re interested. I will be sharing with you tactics and tips I’ve learnt over the years for making my rides easier, more pleasurable and more likely to happen in the first place!
I still ride a bike 4-5 days a week. My riding has changed but surprisingly I have retained most of my fitness, and at times been stronger than ever.
I’m more productive in general, as the increased discipline required to keep riding has spilled over into other parts of my life. I’m much more efficient, to the point where I cannot fathom how I managed to waste so much time before fatherhood! Before kids, I just had to find time for bikes, because I had plenty to spare. Nowadays, there isn’t any to be found, so time has to be made.
One key purpose of this blog is to share and demonstrate to you, the strategies I have found helpful in making time for riding bicycles.
Beautiful bikes and kit
I have always been a person who seeks out quality. Quality of experiences, products and people.
We all work incredibly hard, with countless hours spent away from our families. I do not believe in spending my hard earned money or time on experiences or products that I feel no connection to. And I don’t believe you should either.
I will be reviewing some of the best (and worst) kit and equipment I’ve used. I will only recommend (or warn against) products and brands that I have personal experience of. So there is no other agenda other than getting this experience out there, to help point you in the right direction.
There is also a bespoke bicycle framebuilders map for those considering a bespoke option for their next bike purchase. There might be a place right around the corner from you! I invite you to check it out – these metallurgists are toiling away in lonely workshops just waiting for someone to pop in for a chat!
So you are digging around on the Internet on how to start cycling, and you come across a load of utter bullshit words that don’t make any sense. Well, Steel Rouleur has a cycling terminology page to help you decipher what the racing snakes are banging on about. I will add to it as we go along.
If there are any you come across that aren’t on my list, let me know and I will get them added.
Products that actually help
Many of the latest and greatest inventions of the cycling industry are moderate improvements at best, and some are pure marketing bollocks!
However, many of these fads I often fall for, and why not? I like shiny gadgets as much as the next person! I just think that much of this additional fluff puts off potential cyclists who are thinking of starting out.
Not to mention that as a parent I have significantly less money to spend on bling for my bike than I used to! Hopefully I can navigate you through the marketing hype, and really drill down into what you actually need.
This is my first blog so I’m sure it will be a steep learning curve. But you have to start somewhere, so here goes!
I will be looking to post once a week at first, and we’ll see how we get on. I welcome any comments or suggestions you might have. I do have a lot of experience, but there are many of you old wheelers out there who make me look like a rookie! If you’ve anything to share, I’d love to hear from you.
Thank you for being here, and enjoy!