In 1490 Leonardo DaVinci sketched a drawing of the modern day bicycle . Then in 1790 Frenchman Mede de Sivrac invented a wooden ‘running machine ‘ which had no steering . However in 1861 another French man Ernest Michaux invented the modern style of bicycle with pedals and cranks .
For almost 130 years the bicycle was developed gradually but never straying too far from the original concept and always being made with common materials found on the ‘Periodic Table ‘ . Then Carbon Fibre made it’s first appearance and for the past five years has been the material of choice . The basic principle has always remained and has proved so successful that the bicycle is often still referred to as ‘The most efficient method of Human propulsion ‘ .
The bike has always been purely mechanical , until now that is . Next year Shimano are going to introduce an electronic version of their range topping Dura ace group-set and if they get it right , which Shimano usually do , and if they succeed where Mavic and campagnolo failed before we may see the next step along the line of bicycle development . Electronic derailleurs will be used to change gear but therein lies a problem .
For the past 150 years , as long as your bike was road worthy , you could hop up and go for a cycle whenever the mood took you . If , however , electronic gear changing takes off you will now have to ensure that you are fully charged in order to set off for your spin . Now if you like wearing bright orange , enjoy the smell of tulips and live on a canal boat moored in a dutch town called Neimenhavensbergen this will not matter very much . But if you live in a small rural village in West Kerry it might pose a bit of a problem . You will need all of your gears just to go down to the shop for a litre of milk .
Like yesterday when I met up with the group and it was decided that the mountain road was the destination of choice , I was thankful for all of my working gears and as we crested the top and headed down ‘Boola’ I was glad to be able to flick up into the big ring and lash down the other side . In Ireland you need gears which you can depend on all , not some , of the time . On over ‘Sky hill’ and myself and ‘O.G’ turned down for the back road and were sheltered from the wind on the way home .
Passing by Kilsheelan we met up with Jack Ronan and Johnny Fraher who were also out for a spin and the four of us headed up along the back road towards Clonmel . We were pedaling along chatting away when suddenly just at the crest of a hump backed bridge which is also on a bend a Black 2002 Bora with a big red L on a white background in the left-hand corner of the windscreen came flying around the bend with half the car on our side of the road . Jack had to swerve in on-top of Anthony and by a pure miracle managed to avoid being jettisoned in the direction of the Ryanair flight passing overhead . The tyres were screeching and even puffing smoke as the Lunatic with a capital red L passed us by and I was only thankful that there were only four of us and that we were all well in on our own side of the road .
Before at eleven o’clock on a Sunday morning idiots like this were still in bed nursing a hangover but not anymore . Now he was probably drinking fat frogs in Dannos all night in between doing a few lines of coke and after staying with whatever he picked up outside McDonald’s at four in the morning was trying to make a sharp getaway without asking for a mobile number or bebo address . This is why you always have to have all of your wits about you on the road and never take for granted what’s coming around the next corner .
The back road to Kilsheelan was where the ‘ Black panther’ was sighted a few weeks ago but it’s not the panther we need to be an the look out for any more , now it’s the ‘Black Bora ‘ that needs our attention .