Wednesday, 25 March 2009

I longed for a bicycle

A common utility bicycleImage via Wikipedia

With the better weather coming in it put me in mind of the times I longed for a bicycle when all the children in the street would take off with their bikes on an outing and I was left behind because my family could not afford to buy me one not even second hand.
It wasn't until I was thirteen and started secondary school that I inherited my aunt's "Raleigh" bike. It had no crossbar of course with it being a ladies cycle and was black in colour with a three speed gear and a hub on the front wheel to power the lights. Bikes were very heavy in these days with thick metal mudguards and a heavy rubber reflector at the back and of course the pedals were made of thick steel with thick rubber at the edges and a saddlebag fastened to the back of the horsehair seat covered in leather. All these things added up to a heavy weight to push along with just the three gears especially if it was windy but I was grateful to own my first bike and made full use of it by cycling the three miles to and from school come hell or high water. (how bikes have changed since then) I learned so much about bikes with all the repairs and maintenance I had to carry out on it that I eventually built a bike out of pieces of old bike frames and spare parts I found lying around in an uncles garage which when pieced together gave me a bike with a crossbar. I added accessories like butterfly handlebars,twin horns, mirrors, mudflaps, and transfers to give it the "hot rod" look that cars and motorbikes had in the American comics and even painted "hot rod" in white on the black mudflaps for more effect. This also had the three speed gears but me and a friend who I traveled with still used to race the school bus and beat the other children home. I was very happy with my home made bike until one day after Christmas my pal appeared on a five speed racing bike which drew envy from me right away as we still could not afford a new bike. For the last year of my school days I pedaled extra hard to keep up with my friend but on windy days his five speed used to leave me trailing and I vowed that someday I would have a five speed racing bike.
I started the fishing in the July of 1964 and the following summer I found myself ashore for the weekend on a beautiful sunny day wishing I had my bike to go a spin in the country with, when I remembered that I had left my bike in my granny's garage. When I went to get it, to my disappointment the tyres were flat and beginning to perish and rust was appearing on the wheels while the moving parts were stiff and needing oiled. I thought that was my spin in the country hit on the head but when my granny saw the look on my face she suggested that if she gave me the money for a bike I could pay her back as soon as we had a good trip at the fishing.
With thirty pounds in my pocket I went "Donald's" cycle shop (no connection)and purchased for twenty eight pounds a shiny new gold painted five speed racing bike that at last I could call my own. Mr Donald wanted to keep it for a day to give it a good check up and see that everything was tight and working O.K. but of course I could not wait that long and declined his offer telling him that I would see to these things myself. The bike paid I swiftly left the shop and cycled home to check it out and show it to my mother before I eventually set off on my journey. It was late afternoon by this time but the sun was still high in the sky as I cycled proudly out of our street and into the country, cycling for miles taking in the beautiful fresh air and enjoying the scenery that could only be appreciated while walking or cycling until it was time to turn back and head for home.
The loan was paid back on my return from my next trip but the bike was used very little after that, between me not being at home much and the summer drawing to a close. It was not long after, that I purchased my first car and the bike took second place but I gave it to a family of young boys who made the most of of so it didn't depreciate like my home made one.
So I did get my dream bike eventually and progressed to dream cars with hard work and determination but I never forgot the summer days when I was left behind in our street as the other children disappeared round the corner, off to the country on their shinny bikes leaving me behind with my dreams and wishes.

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