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Bicycles of my past

April 21, 2010

I not sure why I began thinking about this. I’ve been rebuilding an old fixed fork MTB during the evenings and last night, while tussling with a recalcitrant cantilever, brake arm I got to thinking about the bicycles of my past. What they were and really, when I got to thinking about it, how many KMs they must have done.

Evel Keneval in the 1970s (Disrupsean/ Flickr.com)
As a kid in the 70s my first bike was an blue Oxford. It was single speed with coaster brake. I remember it had a very classic British shaped frame. In the era of the Mongoose BMX with yellow tuffs I was pretty disappointed by my fathers choice. He said it was highly regarded by the local bike shop (pfft what do those squares know!) But I rode it. I rode it to school, around the streets, past a the girls houses I had crushes on. I rode it like a BMX! I have searched for information about Oxford bicycles but there is not a lot about.

In my early teenage years my parents got me a second hand 10 speed from a neighbour. It was yellow and for the life of me I can’t remember the brand. Good or bad I rode it even further. Thinking back as best I can, I rode it everywhere. Not long distances in one go but being the oldest of three my mum relied on me to be able to ride wherever I had to be. Sports practice, shops, errands, friends places, school. I remember cleaning it with a bucket and sponge but that is all. My younger brother reminded me of it a little while ago. If he rode it, our other sibling would have as well. 2nd hand and three siblings – I couldn’t even begin to estimate its mileage (I remember having an actual car like ‘speedo’ on it for a while. Like a relative who has passed away the memory fades away but I do have a scar on my thigh from where I jack-knifed it and the friction shifter cut my leg.

When I went on to the later years of high school and I got my licence I can’t remember riding at all.

In my first year out of school I went to the UK where I did a gap year in a school. My cousin lent me his ‘racer’ to get about on. I lived near a small village called Kingham in the Cotswolds and the only way of getting to the station, village, pub or town (Chipping Norton) was by bicycle. Again no memory of the bike – it might have been bronze.. gears unknown. I do remember the vision of the stone wall coming out of the the darkness belting down the laneway on the way home from the pub one night. The woods beyond that were dark.. lights who needs them! When I split from that job I crammed the bike into a car and drove away (quick release wheels? I dunno) I moved to the ‘new‘ town of Peterborough. New because it was a planned city and had cycleways. Same bike was there with me – can’t remember where I locked it up in the house, can’t remember my helmet if I had one, or what clothes I wore. I do remember riding past the Indian community houses and smelling the curries cooking. I worked in a record store where there were a lot of invites to gigs at the Peterborough ‘Posh Club’ (local football team) Did I cycle there?

When I returned to Australia I went to uni in Lismore on the NSW North Coast and at the end of term one I went out and bought a bicycle to get about (to the pub). I picked almost the first one out of the classifieds. It was a 10 or 12 speed ‘Morrison’. From memory a NZ brand. It was light blue with white bar tape and friction shifters (I guess I can’t remember anything indexed). Again, like a 10 yr old again, I rode it a lot. To campus, to the pub, to town. Again so ordinary I can’t remember much about it at all. I do remember my helmet was the ‘Stackhat’ from my youth. Absolutely no style, it was just a part of my life.

Then came the rock ‘n roll years. First jobs, late nights, bands, inner city Sydney and cars. The bike must have been about.. I think. I cannot remember where I even kept it. After the Sydney Olympics I got inspired to ride it again, once. I think I probably did a couple of kms. The new years eve after that, to avoid traffic problems getting in and out of the peninsular suburb of Balmain where I was headed, I rode maybe 6kms to get there. My friends spend the night laughing at me and I had a sore arse.

I met my now wife, we shared a house, we bought a house and finally I gave the Morrison away to a colleague’s son and it was gone from sitting down the side of the house.

Then 2 years after that, it must have been at the very early beginnings of the new cycling trend, I was inspired to buy a bike and ride to work. I can remember that one. I still use it. A Giant Boulder.

I know it inside out, every part, every scratch because I ride it nearly everyday (when I don’t choose one of the other bikes I have acquired). I’ve pulled it apart and rebuilt it. I regularly service it. Perhaps in 40 yrs time it might fade but for the moment I am working on this relationship.

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