Specialized Crossroads

Almost six years ago to the day, I bought a shiny new bicycle from a shop in the Centro Historico in Mexico City. I loved that bike and rode almost every where on it. Fifteen mile round trips from home to classes and back again were common. The ciclothon on Sundays. Random rides up mountains. I attributed the sudden disappearance of my psoriasis to the buckets of sweat that all that riding induced. That was one of many health benefits. Most people thought I was completely nuts for wanting to ride the streets of Mexico City, what with all those hordes of crazy drivers on the roads. I thought they were nuts for wanting to get in a car and join the hordes of drivers going nowhere fast.

I’ve missed cycling these last few years since I’ve returned to the UK. I did have a bike, but it was a 35 year old hand me down with suicide gears and a pedal that didn’t like staying attached to the rest of the bike. Not a pleasure to ride, really. I’d looked at a few bikes in the shops. But I’ve not had the money spare to splash out on a bike. Until now. Thanks to the company I work for signing up to the excellent Ride To Work scheme that the government set up a few years back.

The scheme is a simple one. My company buys the bike from the shop they’ve agreed to run the scheme through, and I rent the bike off them for 12 months. There’s substantial tax relief involved, and I will pay a total of £168 (14 monthly payments of £14) for a bike and accessories worth £275. After the twelve months is up, I can take up the option to rent it for a further four years at £0 per month. At the end of that period I can buy the bike at it’s market value which will be £0. So, despite the complex tax avoidance system, the bike is effectively mine. It’s a freaking bargain, and I am back pounding the streets with two wheels once again.

It couldn’t have come at a better time either, given my recent move into Bournemouth. I don’t need to justify the cost of the bike, but were I forced to do so, I’d point out that I won’t be spending £40 a month on buses. So I’m saving £26 per month, not spending £14. 🙂 But lets have a look at my chosen steed. My old Benotto in Mexico was a genuine mountain bike. I’ve chosen a slightly more civilised style of bike this time. It’s a hybrid. Or so its labelled. Meh. It’s a mountain bike with slightly skinnier wheels.

Like my old Benotto, I chose black. I am a two wheeled, pedal powered Limey version of Knightrider. Just with a little less Hoff and a lot more more huff. And puff. But I’ll get fit again soon. This bike is the 2013 Specialized Crossroads. The bike has a sensible number of gears. Just seven, all on the rear axle. Who on earth needs a hundred and seventy gears on a bike anyway? Really, I don’t think I’ve ever used more than half a dozen gears on a bike. The rest are just wasted cogs.

I also much prefer the twist-shift gear change to the more usual thumb levers. It’s just easier, and I like easy. My thumbs do get exercised though. One of them anyway, with the little bell strapped to the handlebars. I bought a few essential accessories to. A pair of lights, which make me visible at night time. They’re cheapish one though, so while I can be seen as I’m going along, I can’t necessarily see where it is that I’m going exactly. I have a very sturdy D lock to keep thieves at bay. And I have a Specialized helmet than matches the bike which looks very nice on its hanger in the closet. I’ll wear it when I’ve had a haircut. Maybe.

I’m riding the bike now, of course. To work and when I’m out and about. But I’m really looking forward to warm summer evenings and long rides along coastal paths, through forest parks and through town for a lark. Roll on May!


6 thoughts on “Specialized Crossroads

    • DF is a great place to ride bikes. It’s largely flat, the weather is pleasant and the wide pavements are clear of pedestrians who, for no reason I ever fathomed, choose to walk in the road.


  1. I’ve had the same bike since about 1991, and I bought it used then. It’s a decent bike, a Raleigh “Technium” mountain bike, and I’ve been all over the place on it. I bought it when I lived in Los Angeles, and I used to ride up the hills from Fairfax up to Mulholland drive. Uphill was entertaining enough, but nothing compared to the ride back. Here I’ve ridden it cross country, around town, and along the bay. It’s been a good, trusty steed.

    Lately I’ve been thinking about getting a new bike, with some kind of suspension, or at least a bouncy seat post. It’s tough riding a hardtail over rocky territory.

    Looks like your new ride is quite nice. Congrats!


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where anyone trying to ride a bike now would freeze to death.


    • My bike has no suspension. The Benotto did. But here in the UK I’m going to mostly be on urban terrain, and kerbs are not kerbs, not the artificial cliffs you find in DF. Presumably designed to prevent cars from driving along the pavements. I’m pretty sure most drivers would give that a go, given half a chance. I wouldn’t blame them. After all, the pedestrians aren’t using them….


    • Are there no bike rentals around to give cycling a go to see how you find it? I did come across rental outfits in the most unlikely of places in Mexico.

      The most ambitious ride I ever attempted was in Creel, in the Copper Canyon. I’d read it was just a 20km ride to some hot springs, and persuaded a bunch of fellow hostel inmates to rent bikes and join me. I’d done a million 20km+ rides. Easy peasy. But I’d read wrong, it was nearer 50km. I also hadn’t given proper consideration to the slightly up and down terrain. It nearly killed me. We abandoned the bikes eventually and hid them in bushes so we could hike the rest of the way.


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