I am fastidious about my bikes. Obsessed some say. I clean, lube, polish and adjust them regularly. I like my bikes to look and, feel like new. They perform better and, so do I.
Yesterday, while preparing the Garneau for Sunday’s ride, I noticed the only dirt on the bike was on the bar tape. I know I can clean the tape, remove the dirt and grime. A little soap and wonder does the trick and, biodegradable chain cleaner removes the tough spots. But I like the look. It is evidence of hard work and long hours in the saddle. I am proud of that and am not ashamed for others to know. I am a cyclist.
When I see pristine, white bar tape, I immediately think the bike has not been ridden much. I may be wrong. I suppose some are as particular about bar tape as I am with my drivetrains and frames. And, I know there are those that prefer black tape so the dirt and grime is not noticed. Not me. I want everyone to see it. I want everyone to see that I ride this bike and, often.
Dirt on the bar tape tells a story. It shows where the cyclist positions his hands, how the bars are used, whether the rider is experienced, or not. It shows the climbs and descends and whether big gears were pushed. It is a foot print, a record of rides. A history.
Why would you want to remove the dirt? Why would you want to eradicate this history? It is a story of hard work, commitment and persistence. It is a love story. Why would someone dedicate so much time to something they didn’t love? And, it is one of those enduring love stories. You know the kind. The kind of love that gets stronger and more committed over time.
I challenge those of you using black bar tape to switch. You won’t regret it. You will have a visible record of your rides that you can share and, in the eyes of other cyclists, you will held in higher regard, admired, looked up to.