Friday, 21 October 2011

Memory Lane

Back in the day, when I was MUCH younger, I had a Falcon bicycle. It was bought for me as a present when I was thirteen or fourteen years old. I fairly sure it cost about forty pounds, second-hand (that's 150 to 200 pounds sterling in modern money, allowing for general price inflation, approx 250 to 300 US dollars).

Reynolds 531 tubing, Huret 5-speed rear derailleur, drop handlebars sporting Weinemann brake levers with centre-pull brakes, steel rims, skinny tyres, and a small, hard, saddle.
Pretty typical fare for a sporting 1960's machine.

That bike became my regular transport to school. So much more convenient, and quicker, that the bus. Fourteen minutes, door to door. The road was not ideal for cycling - an old fashioned "main road" with lots of heavy traffic. A few years later, a by-pass was built, and that was MUCH better - all the lorries used the bypass, leaving the "old" road for local traffic and cyclists, like me!

When I started work, that was the bike that carried me. Back then I used to ride 50 or 60 miles a week to work and back, and I used to get a puncture about once every couple of months :-) That was on a "main road", too!

Main roads were the usual fare of the commuting cyclist back then, with the lorries (aka trucks) hammering past a few inches from one's elbow. Not good for the nervous!

Moving forwards to the early '90's found me putting my bike (the same '60's Falcon) in the back of the estate car (aka "station wagon", aka "combi") I had at the time, for a trip to France.
Putting the bike inside the back of the car meant I was able to load the car on a ferry on the "Car Deck", as opposed to having to buy a ticket for the, taller, main vehicle area (which I would have needed if the bike had been on top of the car, strapped to a roofrack) - the tickets for the car-only deck was cheaper, as tall stuff couldn't fit in there, leaving the premium-priced main vehicle area for the lorries and tall vans.
I drove to a campsite two-thirds of the way down the west side of the Cherbourg peninsula, and pitched my little tent.
I used the bike for getting about the little town of Granville which was nearby, and for exploring along the coast just a little.
I rode the bike on the sand, too, on the beach to the south of Granville, and my, that was hard work. Skinny little tyres tend to dig into the sand unless you are going along at a fair rate of speed.
Took a trip out to Carnac (in Brittany), loading my bike into the car. I just parked up at the edge of the area where the stones were, and cycled round the site (there are c. 3000 stones at Carnac, standing in lines in a number of fields, as well as some mounds etc. etc.). It was so convenient to be able to stop just about where I wanted, being on the bike as I was, to look at whatever seemed interesting, or to take a picture as I saw the view, rather than half to park half a mile away each time and keeping walking back and forth!

That trip to France was the one that really inspired my interest in "multi-modal" transport, which would later see me buying the little folding bike that I have had for the best part of 20 years, and still ride today. It is so convenient to travel long distances by one means of transport, then use a bike for shorter journeys when you get there!

The early 90's also saw me buying my Cinzia folding bicycle, which I have written about here.