Saturday, 10 October 2015

My cycling week

Ok well you're probably thinking this blog is very late today! Well sorry but I've been busy. Jeremy Hunt will have you believe we're lazy in the NHS and don't work the weekend. Well I've just done 6 hours of admin on my day off because I didn't get time in the week. All done now and as I need something to distract me from the woeful England rugby team ponderously prancing around like the pathetic poppingjays they truly are. Well here's a blog!

I was unable to go on the club ride today as the queen of cakes has taken her cousin and an assortment of other ladies to London for the weekend. They'll be seeing a musical and shopping and drinking prosecco and all that jazz. Sounds ghastly doesn't it? Oh OK I know some people like that sort thing and worse still think we, the lycra loonies, are the weird ones. Anyway that leaves me on Dad duties. To be fair she makes my life very easy so I really can't begrudge a weekend away. That all means I had to take Sam to Saturday sailing. He messed about in boats, I did four laps of Pitsford Water.

One of those is Sam

Because it's off road I took my 29r. That does mean I had to leave my beautiful Giant Propel behind, I did however stop and admire it, give it a stroke, you know make sure she doesn't feel neglected. There's always tomorrow eh? Erm no, tomorrow is rugby with Sam! Next week then, please next weekend be dry, just let me have one more go before its winter bike time!

I really should stop whinging I had a lovely ride. Four laps of Pitsford is progressively hilarious because you pass the same people with increasing levels of recognition with each revolution. I even saw a fisherman land a trout. My highlight of the day though was discovering a secret off road trail with some technical bits.

Who knew?

The rest of my cycling week has been commuting, The e-cars at work really are doing me a massive favour and once again I managed 4/5 days cycling to work. That's 40 miles I'd have done in my car. The benefits are less pollution, less money spent on petrol and me arriving in a good mood because that's the effect cycling has on me. I have a great time riding to work but do worry that others worry about the muppet on a bike who can't stop smiling!

Me on my commute

All that extra cycling has left me with time to think happy cycling thoughts. This week I've been all nostalgic and spent time thinking about all the bikes I've owned and some cycling fashions which seemed cool at the time but like all things 70/80's we wouldn't think so now!

My first ever bike was a Raleigh Mayflower. I remember my Nan running up and down the path holding my saddle until I could ride it. Unbelievably I've found a picture of one!

look at that beautiful thing

In 1977 for Christmas I got a Raleigh Chopper. A proper one. Purple with the red gear stick which people were always unscrewing and nicking. It had that warning on it to say it was only for one person and don't carry passengers but hey anyone who had a chopper knows that four people got on with ease! I was only 7 at the time and it was a bit big for me but I wanted one and my Nan & Pap always got me what I wanted because frankly they're awesome.

even more beautiful thing

The must have bike as I got older was a racer. We'd call it a road bike now but BMX's and mountain bikes hadn't been invented yet and frankly as a nation we were incredibly bike ignorant. My first racer was a Raleigh (there wasn't tonnes of choice but other bikes of the era included Dawes and Peugeot and more advanced bikes from specialist racing shops such as Reynolds on Wellingborough Road.) Once again Nan & Pap got me this bike.

Not a thing of beauty

The Sun Solo didn't last long though. I didn't lock it up properly whilst popping into the Anglia Building Society on Kingsthorpe Front and I got what I deserved because it was stolen. A harsh but valuable life lesson. My Dad let me save up my own money and speak to all manner of unsavoury second hand bike dealers before he put me out of my misery and bought me a new racer from independent bike shop 'Martins.' I don't know if he built them or just bought frames and branded then himself but that racer saw me through the next few years. There's no pictures of the bike or the shop it came from, it was silver and that's all I remember.

In my teens before driving and working at Waitrose came along the main purpose of my racer was to get me to school and for my paper round. I did the odd jaunt into the country but nothing serious. At one point I had three paper rounds. I had a morning round, delivered the Herald & Post free paper and I delivered the Sports Pink. All that black fingered action had one purpose and it was to save up for an even better racer.

£270 got me a Raleigh Ventura from Lawes cycles on the site of what is now an Italian chain restaurant. This had reynolds tubing and I fitted toeclips. Because it just wasn't cool those mudguards were gone before you knew it. On cool, people did terrible things to racers. Anyone remember cow horns? It was also 'cool' to turn your drops the wrong way up,it was marginally functional because it made wheelies easier

Just why?

The snow is the only cool thing here

At the same time BMX's became popular. This was annoying to anyone who'd just got the poor man's chopper, the Grifter and so they set about customizing their bikes to look more BMXish. That ridiculous saddle got replaced and all the foam was stripped from handlebars. The mudguards would go (obviously,) and tyre colours would change. I'm a chopper fan so I always hated Grifters but they just don't make iconic bikes like this now. Kids also don't put as much effort into making things different. The twist grip gears may have only worked a 3 speed sturmey-archer hub but they are the forerunner to the MTB twist grip gears.

awful compared to the chopper

If you were a cool kid or had parents who earned stupid amounts of money then you got a BMX. Suddenly there were different brands available like Muddy Fox and Mongoose but as ever Raleigh provided the must have bike in the Burner. 

80's object of desire

It's all very different now with all the choice of brands. You barely see a Raleigh these days which would be hard to believe when I was growing up. There's quite a retro scene, especially for racers and choppers, which is nice. Here's a good link

Bikes are much much better now but I really do have a nostalgic soft spot for my old Raleigh's, if I had space I'd start collecting them. I hope you enjoyed that as a bit of a different blog.

Happy Pedaling

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