You know you are old when you fondly remember:
- toe clips and leather straps;
- down tube gear shifters; and,
- wool cycling shorts with suspenders.
I’m so old I remember these things. At the time, they were the best. Toe clips and leather straps made certain the balls of my feet were always over the pedal axles and enabled me to pull up with one leg while pushing down with the other. Down tube shifters were conveniently located so I could easily change gears, particularly when cycling on the drops. And my wool shorts had chamois liners, and I looked so “cyclist” when I had the narrow, striped, clip-on suspenders on.
My how things have changed.
Now we wear clip-less pedals. What? We clip in. Oh! There are no toe clips. How confusing.
We have integrated brake and gear shifters on the handlebars enabling us to simultaneously change chainrings and cassette gears.
And, we wear hi-tech, lycra bibs. More integration. More comfort.
Undoubtedly, these improvements make cycling safer. We change gears without removing our hands from the bars. And, we clip in and out of our pedals by simply rotating our feet.
Do I miss toe clips, down tube shifters, and wool shorts? Not for a moment but the technological improvements have made me a better cyclist. I am pleased to have experienced the evolution. It makes me appreciate the changes more. The irony is that this technology is making a comeback. There is a growing number of millennials choosing to ride single-speed, steel frame bikes with toe clips. They are even wearing cycling caps. These young people are making both a political and fashion statement as they navigate the city on their “fixies”.
So maybe, just maybe, I’m not so old after all.
I ride a commuting bike with shifters on the down tube and toe straps/clips which I love. You’re on your own with the wooly shorts though 😉
I have 5 bikes I ride – 3 road bikes, a hardtail mountain bike, and a modified mountain bike I use as a commuter or city bike. One of the road bikes still has down tube shifters and toe clips. The bike is in excellent working order but I don’t use it much any more. I save it for guests. Guests visiting without a bike.
A few year ago I rebuilt Chas, my 35 year old custom steel touring bike and equipped it with an Ultegra group with integrated shifters. I love riding this bike. I haven’t ridden with down tube shifters or toe clips since. And, I can’t remember the last time I wore “wooly shorts”.
Was once called a recidivist for my use of old mountaineering gear!
Wool cycling shorts are around today except they’re called merino now.
I know BUT they are much nicer than what I was accustomed. I wear quite a bit of Marino wool – socks, tops, hat …unfortunately it doesn’t stand up as well as the synthetic materials.
Just last evening I came across pictures of me racing in the late 80’s. Toe clips, perforated leather shoes with nailed on cleats, down tube shifters, and full wool kit. I don’t miss that heavy scratchy wool. Much different feel then today’s wool blends. Sometimes I get nostalgic for those days (last evening) but I never apologize for using up to date technology.
I had forgotten how “scratchy” those shorts were.