In the same way that having been single for nearly 14 years does not mean that there has not been the odd date or flirtation in my life, not having ridden a bike for approximately 15 years does not mean that I have not had previous relationships with two-wheeled vehicles. The Purple Peril may be my current significant other and as I wait for the wonderful Bike ER Doctors to take her to the ICU for remedial action including tyre and inner tube transplant in order to restore her to racing fitness in preparation for the Cycletta adventure, I find myself reflecting on the other bicycles that have brought me to where I am today.
I have already mentioned the Dawes Daisybelle… well as I delve back into the time tunnel of my brain I fear I may have misled you. I now remember that my Father and I did indeed set off to purchase a Daisybelle for my 10th birthday but due to the fact that I am vertically challenged and the shop did not have the correct size frame it was in fact a purple Dawes Dainty that I came home with that day. It was truly beautiful and had a cute white saddlebag in which to keep the requisite puncture repair kit . The kit was in a yellow tin and I have memories of buckets of water, bubbles and foul-smelling solvent which in the days of innocence of early 60’s childhood we were neither tempted to sniff nor sell.
Moving swiftly into the 70’s the next two-wheeled presence in my life was during my first year at University where the tradition in the Hall I resided in was that pre owned machines – and some had been pre owned from the days when Amelia Bloomer first ventured out in her risqué cycle wear, were available to freshers for a contribution to JCR funds – I therefore acquired an extremely rusty specimen which got little use as I moved on up to four wheels – or rather boyfriends with cars.I left it languishing and rusting in the cycle rack and hope that its next owner lavished a bit more care and attention on it than I did. However, the mechanical bi peds were back with a vengeance 3 years later – partner and car were on the other side of the Pennines and I needed transport for a vacation job packing empty Brasso cans. I never did find out why we had to pack empty cans, but as I didn’t have to sign the Official Secrets Act, I assume it was not a matter of National Security and that they were not camouflage containers for substances of mass destruction. So friends once again came to my rescue – familiar story eh? and I borrowed a rather fabulous green Raleigh complete with thrilling trilling bell which for 3 weeks propelled me back and forth to the workhouse. So impressed was I with rediscovering this form of transport that I swiftly purchased, for a pittance, what was, like a new boyfriend, for a while, one of the joys of my life, a magnificent yellow machine with basket on the front and a rack at the rear. It was truly a proper Sit up and Beg antique not unlike this rather splendid blue version and was possibly a sign of growing maturity, being a graduate with a job and a relationship – a relationship which would end several years later with the partner leaving with custody of yet another bicycle, – the ancient yellow bike and basket having been passed to another hopefully careful owner and could even now still be bowling along the roads of East Yorkshire.
From there on in bicycles faded from my life, other than several visits to centre parcs and their hired bikes getting us from villa to Dome, but with the highlight of the wonderful interaction and joy as my daughter learnt to ride her first bike without stabilisers – pistachio green – and I think a white basket with pink flowers.
But I do also have a truly wonderful memory of bicycles from last year – this picture taken in the amphitheatre of that most wonderful of places- Lucca, where on two different occasions last year I sat in glorious sunshine having lunch, drinking wonderful prosecco and relaxing in the understanding and warmth of true friendship. The window display summed up much of where life finds me at the moment, the structures may be ageing but are still capable of being revitalised by the addition of vibrant new additions and experiences. If someone has the vision to put flowers and metal together and create such a wonderful joyous and vibrant image, I can surely bring something new to my life from the amalgam of the Purple Peril, the support of friends and a bit of effort and determination.