Tuesday, 20 May 2014

No Corny Bicycle Related Titles Here!

Taken when I first got the bike - note lack of grey hair (me) and square basket (bike)

Ah, Spring is definitely in the air – the days are longer and warmer and there are bikes out everywhere!

I have a love/hate relationship with cycling. My Dad is ace at it, one of my brothers has recorded some pretty nifty time trial results in his time and I have spent many an evening watching both real life racing and getting into the thrill of Le Tour (the Channel 4 theme music is legendary!). However, I have come to the conclusion that I am so much better at cycling when it comes to cheering from the sidelines. In my head I’d actually like to be out there, steaming along, working all those muscles and looking cool. In reality I hate cycling in the wind, not keen if it’s raining much and if it’s too hot – well, forget it. This means there are exactly 4 days a year when cycling conditions are optimum for me. And 2 of those are probably when Le Tour is on.

But, I have discovered the perfect cycling for me, more my style and less sweaty! I have been getting out and about on my vintage bike. I bought this beauty a few years ago and have finally got it out on the road in all its glory. I believe it dates from around 1910 although I have no idea what make it is. But it has all the vintage accessories I need - detailed leather saddle? Check! Real stringed skirt guard? Check! The scariest brakes ever? Check! And a basket for dog/cat/ginger ale? Check!
I have tried to do some research on similar bikes and found a very interesting piece on suffragettes hurling themselves in front of Winston Churchill on their bikes. I assume this was a deliberate act of protest rather than a complete lack of braking ability. Seriously though, the link between the rise of cycling and the emancipation of women is both interesting and well documented. More information here.  

Arty shot of bike by postbox

Back to my bike - my brother recently checked it over for me, replaced the single handgrip with a pair of new period ones and did what he could to shiny it up. I also got a brand new basket!

An authentic 'Coventry Gear Case Co' Atlas saddle - still going strong and pretty comfortable!

I have this vision that in a few years time I will be the eccentric old lady peddling around the village in a big hat and talking to myself (I’m not quite there yet, thank you very much!) and in the meantime I have been checking out various vintage cycling groups. Apparently there are other people out there who enjoy dressing up and getting out and about on vintage bikes. I think I may have found my cycle niche at last! Go Girl Power :)


  1. What an amazing bike! Lovely summer days are meant for cycling.

    When I read your piece I was reminded of a similar aged bike which featured in Radio Four's book of the week last week. A chap restores an old bike and cycles the exact route of the 1914 tour of Italy. All mountains, with wooden wheels and wooden brakes...and wearing the same woollen shorts! I think you might enjoy the read:

    It might even still be on Radio Four's website to listen again to. Well worth it! x

    1. Woollen shorts? Can't even imagine how they'd feel in the rain! Thanks for this link, I am off to check him out so I can be inspired to do something more within my capacity... 1910 style ride to the village pub anyone??

  2. Ohhh wow! A 1910 bike - I LOVE it! And vintage cycling groups, good grief, never heard of them but sounds interesting :-D

    1. I will let you know if I take the plunge! Not sure how strict their membership regulations might be in terms of costuming :)