Sunday, January 3, 2010

Meet the Bicycles

Let me start with a brief history here...

First of all, I never, ever, ever rode a bicycle as a child. My parents bought me an adorable pink bicycle with streamers and flowers on the seat and a shiny silver sissy bar. And I had always loved my little red tricycle, so you'd think I would have switched easily over to the bicycle. My dad tried to teach me to ride it, and yes, I probably did go up and down the block a couple of times. And then never touched it again. Don't ask me why. I tried again in high school and might have gone a full two blocks on a friend's ten-speed. No further.

In college I rode a motorcycle, and loved it, but sold it for my move to Atlanta. Here in Atlanta, I started using the transit system and walking a lot. Then I got a job out in the Cumberland Mall area where the bus routes are much further apart. If I missed the 5:15 commuter bus back to town, I had a long suburban mile to walk to the nearest regular route. After a year or so, and influenced by some friends, I decided that a bicycle would make things much easier. Every bus has a rack on the front that carries up to two bicycles.

Bicycles on buses. Credit Cobb Community Transit
I got a generic women-specific mountain bike and started learning to ride it. After a month or so of regular riding, I felt pretty comfortable. I realize now how much I still had to learn, but it was not too hard - considering I was, um, not young anymore... It wasn't long before I outfitted the bike with commuter gear - lights, fenders, bells, smoother tires - and rode it all over town.

My first adult bicycle - Specialized HardRock - rugged but slow and uncomfortable on city streets
After a few years, I realized that my cycling habits called for more of a road-style bicycle, and started looking on Craigslist. This is when the Takara found me and changed my life. The Takara was so useful! Fenders that really work! A rack to put my bag on! A slender sturdy frame and easy step-through dismounts! A seat with springs and upright riding position to make me comfortable! I was hooked. I wanted more, actually. Soon I added a Huffy BayPointe with matching fenders and cheap internal hub, and a Free Spirit (Sears) Pinnacle 12-speed. But they couldn't match the Takara, and I eventually sold them off.

Who needs a living room?
After a while, I realized that the Takara was just a late 1970s Japanese version of British bicycles, most notably the Raleigh. So, when I saw a Raleigh for sale, again on Craigslist, I bought it before I could think twice. It needed a little work. Now, I'm somewhat mechanically inclined, but mostly I rely on help from bicycle shops, the Sopo bicycle repair co-op, and my wonderful friends. We got it running and I rode it during the summer. Then, one of my tires blew out (or should I say, "tyres", the British spelling - they were probably original) and I had trouble with the shifter cable during replacement. Plus I really need a new seat. But I love the ride. He is a 1973 Raleigh Sports. So anyway, I got "Cecil" the Raleigh fixed tonight. I hope to have him on the road this week, barring rain.

Nevermind the Cecil

1 comment:

  1. I love origin stories! From your know-how and confidence, I would have pegged you as one of those life-long cyclists.

    Cecil is a beautiful bike. Byron told me about it just after you got it, describing it as "root beer brown." Surely the photo doesn't do it justice. I can't wait to see it out and about.