It’s the little things that do my head in when it comes to my bikes. Stem length, seat height, cleat position, they pretty much get tweaked and when the sweet spot is hit, that’s the end of story. But other, more mundane things, can be a constant source of mind-fuck.
It seems like I’m on a never-ending quest for the perfect combination of bar tape and saddle colours. There was a time when my philosophy was black, and black only. Tyres, rims, bars and stem, but especially saddles and bar tape. We (myself and Johnny Klink) even stoically stated that these were ‘The Rules’. Not to be broken, or even tampered with.
Damned if I know what happened, but I started breaking my own rules. I think it may have been the daily witnessing of the plethora of bikes in the shop which were specced with white saddles and tape, and it possibly became ingrained on my psyche that this was the new rule. And, of course, all the Pros were sporting clean, bright white tape.
When I bought my Roubaix, it came with the white/white combo. It hadn’t even rolled out the front door before the tape was swapped out for black. The saddle, being somewhat more expensive to replace, stayed.
After a month or two, my work and riding mate Josh planted an evil seed in my head. He’d been on a ride with a bike company rep, whose bike was reportedly looking pretty good with, wait for it, CHROME bar tape. I had to have it. We searched high and low before procuring what was the last roll of the shiny stuff in NZ. It didn’t really match anything else on my bike, but it certainly garnered plenty of attention. This stuff was bright. Even at 6am in the middle of winter, it stood out. Too much. It had to go.
But black just looked too dull after that, so white was the next step. Matching Hudz were added, and the ritual of scrubbing everything after each ride became the norm. It drove me crazy. But at least the cockpit was matched.
Like AC-DC, I was soon Back in Black, with a black Toupe saddle swapped with another mate now on my bike. But it all looked too dark now, and the bike never made it to a ride with the black combo.
Then I hit on the solution. I found rolls of silver, not chrome, tape on the website of one of our suppliers, and a Toupe in white with silver trim. Finally, not too dark, not retina-burning bright, and not white. Black hoods topped it off and prevented the scrubbing blues. How long this will last, who knows. It’s made it through winter, at least, and I’m not sick of it yet. I’m sure the time will come though.
Someone once said “rules are meant to be broken”, but bending them slightly doesn’t seem so sacrilegious.