I bought this Bianchi Pista brand new in 2014 from ChainLine Cycle in Kelowna. For the first time in a long time I owned not a single bike and it was time to change that.
It was an end of season sale bike so the price was right, and the steel frame is perfect for banging around town between coffee shops and commuting to and from work. The clean look of single speed bikes had attracted me for a while, and watching YouTube videos documenting the feats of single speed riders and tricksters had me itching to try wheelies and skids of my own.
This is technically a track bike – “pista” means “track” in Italian – but it is really a lifestyle bike, a result of Bianchi jumping on the recent wave of popularity of single speed bikes on the street. The steel frame is not the lightest steel choice out there, and front and rear brakes means you will stop safely in traffic but at the cost of more added weight. I rode the bike for a few months as I’d purchased it, only adding toe-clips and swapping out the stock chrome track handlebars for black, flat Cinelli road bars. The rear freewheel gear was removed and the fixed gear was replaced with a 17 tooth cog.
Year one with this bike involved learning how to ride with a fixed gear and getting used to road bars. I learned that I’m not daring enough for skidding long distances or riding around town without proper brakes on my bike. Most of my time behind bars has been on mountain bikes, so arm and neck positioning, and even sitting position were things I had to work out. Figuring out where my sit bones went on the seat wasn’t something I’d really thought about until I’d ridden over 30km and some of my body parts started to go numb.
Year two with this bike was all about having fun and reacquainting myself with the freedom and speed that I love so much about bicycles. Lunch time beach visits and cruising around downtown Kelowna were usual adventures.
Now this bike and I are on our third year together. It has taken me 6 years of living in Kelowna to realize the abundance of cycling I have available at my doorstep. There are good long rides to be had right from the city center, and even more long quiet rural roads just a short drive from here, towards Vernon or Penticton. The bike has seen more upgrades to accommodate long fast rides: both the front and rear brakes are on with new, proper levers, and the pedals are a pair of used SPD SLs that I swapped from my Cervelo P3 before it was sold off. The stock Bianchi saddle has been replaced with a much lighter, highly unobtrusive Brooks Cambium C13.
Sunday mornings are now a ritual of coffee and exploring the limits of my legs, logging kilometers around the edges of Kelowna, borders of travel defined by the steep hills that make up the Okanagan Valley. My Strava heatmap reveals my common paths around flatter parts of the valley on the Kelowna side of Okanagan Lake. The hills beyond always feel like they guard an elusive mystery when I skirt them, and I always promise myself: “next time” as I turn back down to flatter roads.
This bike has helped dust off and revive my love for moving fast under my own power on two wheels. Together we speed around city blocks, off and up curbs with no worry of harm to the aluminum rims or steel frame. It is not delicate or precious and takes well to being locked to a city bike rack or tossed in the back of our Subaru. No rear derailleur rattles at me as I try to find the right gear to go up or down a slope – available speed and power are determined by my energy that day. I often feel invincible on as my legs spin and drive us together downhill on my way to the office in the morning. The fun is pure and exhilarating – I can’t wait to ride my bike again tomorrow!