Like me, my friend Cecily Walker is a librarian and cyclist who uses her bike as her main mode of transportation. Unlike me, Cecily has rheumatoid arthritis and suffers from a great deal of relentless pain and fatigue that restricts her ability to do many of the things that I and so many others take for granted.
In an interview she did with Vancouver Cycle Chic, Cecily speaks about the importance of cycling in her life and the comfort it’s has brought her as she’s learned to live with chronic illness. For Cecily, her bike is not just transportation or a means to an end; it’s something that makes her feel “a part of the city, not apart from the city.” It’s her heart and soul.
For as long as I’ve known Cecily, she’s been dreaming about a bike tailored to her specific needs. In the early days, she didn’t know exactly what kind of bike it was. What she knew, back then, was how this bike would make her feel. It was a bike that would ride like the wind: steel-framed, light, smooth and strong. A bike that could take her anywhere and everywhere.
Cecily’s a librarian, so her natural response was to do as much research as she needed to find this bike. Gradually, the dream bike gained a form and name: a Rivendell Betty Foy. But Betty Foys don’t come cheap, and so the dream took time to become a reality. (At rivbike.com, the stock steel- frame of the beguiling two-wheeler retails for $1,225 USD.) When the moment finally came, Cecily worked with Darren McKay from Vancouver’s Dream Cycle to take a Betty frame and build it into the perfect bike for Cecily.
She started with a stock frame, which is different from a custom frame; the latter is sized to the exact dimensions of the rider and can cost upwards of $3,500.
Even with the stock frame, having a bike custom built doesn’t remotely resemble buying a bike off the rack in a store. Every component, every cosmetic and performance detail is fine-tuned and within your control to customize.
With a master bike builder’s experience, you can pick the perfect part for every aspect of the bicycle, everything from handlebars to tires. You can build a bike that’s perfectly matched to who you are, why you ride and where you want to journey.
With every component carefully considered, Cecily's dream ride cost roughly $2,400.
Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to join Cecily as she picked up the finished bike. It’s a truly amazing thing to watch a cyclist’s dream come true in front of her own eyes. The Betty Foy hung on a stand, undergoing last-minute adjustments. Every last piece of the bike was perfect, from the smooth cream fenders to the heart-shaped detailing on the tubes. As each final touch was added — a spot of polish for the wheels, a tiny tweak to the leather Brooks saddle — you could see Cecily’s anticipation building, like all of those childhood Christmas mornings rolled into one afternoon.
And when McKay finally pronounced the bike ready to go and Cecily took it outside and began to pedal it home for the very first time, her smile made the August sun seem pale in comparison.
It’s moments like this when you truly appreciate how cycling can change a life, and how individual bikes are far more than the sum of their parts. That’s the thing about a dream bike. There’s no limit to where it can take you.
Kay Cahill is a cyclist and librarian who believes bikes are for life, not just for commuting. Read more at sidecut.ca, or send a comment to email@example.com.
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