Survival of the Fittest?
Darwinism works for me. Survival of the fittest is the recipe for all life on earth and (together with some man-made evolutions) accounts for how we tend to get faster, better and more successful relative to all the other monkeys in neighbouring gene pools.
The same is true for a lot of innovations. Some adopt shiny new inventions well ahead of the masses, the masses catch-up and eventually the thing looks a little tarnished and gets superceded and the cycle starts again.
But occasionally there’s an interesting and seemingly non-sensical evolutional cul-de-sac that deserves some deeper thought.
And where is evolution leading the cycling world?
Electric. It doesn’t matter who you are, you will probably get an electric bike in the end. Why? Do you fit somewhere on the continuum Fit to Fat? Then you’ll find a need somewhere between these extremes;
Fit as a fiddle? The innovations in batteries and drives make perfect range extenders! They get you there for you to test your skill and energy on the never ending mountains. I predict ultra electric bike events linking mountain ranges for the thousands, not just the fittest dozen.
Not so fit? The electric bike gets you out of the car, saving huge amounts on fuel costs and reducing pollution at the ground level. They also give you greater exercise as you still need to contribute to the pedal work from time to time.
This is all driven by advance in technology.
Is Cyclocross in the evolutionary battle?
But what about Cyclocross? Surely, like the Penny Farthing, this branch of cycling should be superseded and diminished in the face of better suspension and bespoke designs seen in Mountain Biking?
Quite the contrary. There is a vibrant scene around this peculiar practice of carrying racing bikes up and down seep slopes and through bogs.
We saw the tame end of this in Winchester at the “Battle in the Bowl” and met the good people involved. Talking with Owen and Rocky from Owen’s Bikes in Four Marks, Hampshire, Owen prefers his mountain bike. In fact Owen is in the national championships and always uses his faithful hard-tail 29 inch wheeled mountain bike at the meets throughout the year. “Faster on the Downhills” he believes gives him the advantage. Rocky (ex-military with more than a few stories of engineering and cycling note) demonstrated the electric bikes on offer. He’s a strong believer in the innovation helping people to ride well into their 70’s.
Who are the winners?
But all the winners I met were on these peculiar drop handle barred cycles who’s only concession to the modern world appeared to be in materials (more often aluminum than carbon) and disc brake systems. People like Ali from Four4th bike lights who won the SplashMaps Harvey South Downs Way due to a magnificent performance in the open race.
Are the bikes better?
Certainly there were a lot of pit-stops. But with over 400 bikes doing the round, perhaps this was not above par. The guys at Winchester’s Venta Velo club dealt with it most ably!
I’m sticking with my 26 inch mountain bike. I like to get places and have fun getting there. I don’t feel the need for additional vibration, and I think I’d miss those swift descents!