I was first drawn to Airnimal bikes in early 2003 when I saw an advertisement suggesting to ride PBP (Paris, Brest, Paris) and have £1,000 back. I already rode small wheels 650c so 24” was not a great deal difference. But it was an aluminium frame and I was used to steel, so along with the cost I had to go with the bike I had. After all there was no guarantee I would finish and get the £1,000 back. With the cost of PBP this bike was just a dream. And that is how it was for the next ten years, until finally this year I went to the factory and test rode. The damper takes out any hardness of the frame and I must say it is a softer ride than my steel machine. Basically I love it, a go anywhere any place bike and it rides as well as my other bike. At first I thought it was not quite as pretty but as with any love affair I now think it is beautiful.
Finally my machine arrived March 2013, first trip Mallorca where I took it over one of the toughest routes on the island, and generally put it through its paces for a full two weeks. I was not disappointed (I named it Arnie!), and it was talked about wherever I went. I use the full hard case and pack it up slowly so it takes me around 30 mins. It goes on as hold luggage with no extra cost, and can go on the transfer coaches as the case is within size and weight. Throughout the summer I rode my local club rides and Audax UK rides (mainly hilly events), as I was in training for something bigger.
I was off on holiday to France with my friend Ann to join the elite members’ list of the Club des Cinglés du Mont-Ventoux, always the mountain that had never been in the right place when I visited France before. This ride is ridden like an Audax ride with a brevet card and plaque on the bike; to join the club you have to ride up Mont-Ventoux three times from the three sides, all on the same day! We became ladies 11 and 12 from England to achieve this since the club began in 1988. And ridden all on Arnie where the French just did not know what to make of my bike, was even asked if within my rear bag there may be an engine! From then onward I continued to ride Arnie at home in our lovely summer weather.
Finally it was holiday time again.
This time an autumn tour from home Tewkesbury into Wales. Six days 65 miles a day and a total of 9,500m climbing. Arnie had to have a new look; no longer the light-weight machine but a touring bike, and Arnie fitted the bill to a Tee, having the smaller wheels meant I could have a bigger bag!
Not only am I amazed by my little bike, its stunning appearance, but I would also like to add the initial customer service and after purchase service from the entire team at Airnimal Factory shop Longstanton, has been outstanding. My first ride on the bike was a local 70 miles Audax perm around the villages of Cambridgeshire, and from that moment I’ve not looked back some 5,000 miles later. Can’t wait to have Arnie back after his first service – or should that be “I’ll be back”…!
Louise Rigby and Arnie the Airnimal.