Tag Archives: bicycle maintenance

Childhood Dreams

Since that cold wet Monday evening when I turned up with the broken down bicycle that we now call “Candy The Slapper” the Man has become quite enthusiastic about the project…

It started the evening I returned. He came into the bathroom where I was soaking the cold out of my bones with the hottest bath I could bear. He came in and sat by the bath

“I’ve been looking at the frame. She’s in surprisingly good nick for something so screamingly ‘80’s”

The Man reckoned that she had been involved in an accident as the crankwheel was pushed into the frame and the teeth dug in to the paintwork if you tried to turn the pedals. His theory was that she may have been stored at the back of the garage and one day someone parking the car might have failed to stop, crashing into the car and forcing the crankwheel into the frame…and then she was just left in the garage hence the fact there was very little rust or dirt other than the sticky greasy film that seemed to be all over her.

It was the Man who started referring to the bike as “she” and “her”…  as in

“She has a very pretty frame”

Candy the Slapper is of mixte construction having 2 parallel toptubes coming from the handlebar stem, going either side of the seat tube and joining the drop outs at the back.

Candy is the bike from the 1980’s I never had… my bike was a very sensible bike for going to and from school on…with a basket… and because I have very short legs I never grew out of the bike I got at the age of 10… I was still using it at the age of 18 despite the fact that by then it had seen many many better days…

The Man started telling me about the bike from his teenage years muttering reverently names like Sturmley Archer and Reynolds 531 frames…

It was a Raleigh… of course it was a Raleigh most kids in England ended up with Raleighs because back then there was still a belief that all the manufacturing was still done in England, Nottingham…

I had a Puch… but then we bought our bikes off my Uncle John who owned a bike shop… in Nottingham…

The Man is hooked and fired up about the project. Together we manage to find an old brochure on the internet showing the Raleigh Candice…it’s not quite the same model though but it gives us an idea for dates.

He also gets quite enthused over photographs of other bikes people have done…We end up having to put a budget on ourselves as it is quite possible to go quite gaga over accessories…and Candy was never meant to be a diva of a bike. She was meant to be a learning curve for bicycle repair and a bit of a beater bike for taking to places I didn’t have the courage to take the Ridgeback.

But things seem to be evolving quite fast… at some point we have to make a decision as to whether this is a repair or a restoration…

Monday A foolish girl and why I married the Man

How do you fit this wreck

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into this small car…

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And possibly more importantly why would you ?

Recent experiences whereby I come back to discover that the Man has added bits or removed bits from my bike has made me want to learn how to do what the Man does?  He has no fear of repairs and maintenance or flat tyres. If his bike isn’t working the way he expects it to then he just changes it, no ifs no buts no procrastination… also he walks round bike shops seeing possibilities and not, as I do feeling overfaced by row upon row of bits bobs and accessories.

I am reluctant to learn by fiddling around with the Ridgeback (which reminds me I haven’t introduced the bikes yet)  as I might mess it up and then  I am without a ride… or waiting for the Man to make good what I have messed up… which would be embarrassing

So on impulse I bought a cheap “parts or restoration on ebay ” bike for £10.

Unfortunately I got my towns mixed up and thought I was picking it up from just outside Rugby… it was only after the auction had closed that I discovered that the bike was located just outside Nottingham some 90 minutes from home, just over an hour from work.

Oops… and then in order to avoid adverse comment on ebay I had to go through with it as they were only accepting cash and that was on collection only.

I perhaps should mention that shortly after I left the office it started raining. it was absolutely hoofing it down for most of the way down the M42 and M1 but had eased off by the time I came off the A46…but was still far from dry

The sellers had kindly taken the wheels and the fenders off for me; also the back carrier but the bike was still too large and I had no tools with me having come straight from work…they then shut the door on me pretty much as soon as I handed over the money so I also had had to carry it to my own car.

There I am in the spitting rain trying the bike this way and that.  It didn’t fit in the boot… or the passenger seat…and I have no back seat or back shelf to speak of…fortunately my car does this…

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So I drove back from Nottingham with the top down and with a smelly dirty 1980’s Raleigh in the passenger seat…in the rain as of course the further I went from Nottingham the more the rain started to fall.  Fortunately however I didn’t actually get very wet and neither did the inside of the car. I was wearing a cut price waterproof jacket that the Man had dumped in the back “in case you break down in the rain” and I guess the design of the windscreen kept most of the spray out of the car.

I wasn’t sure how legal it was to drive with the top down and a dangerous pile of spiky metal bits in the passenger seat so I decided to avoid the motorways and take roads less travelled which worked fine until I managed to lose the route of the A46 around Leicester… somehow I stumbled upon the A47 which took me to Hinkley where I was then able to join the A5 and then the Fosse Way home.

This was a cold wet journey but surprisingly quite exhilarating… at least at first.   I think I got a grin from a road cyclist just outside of Hinkley who may have spotted my passenger… then again it may just have been gratitude for giving him enough room when overtaking after the lights…

It possibly stopped being a fun adventure around about  Stetton Under Fosse/Brinklow… by now I was slightly tired, getting cold and very very hungry… but the Fosse is the route home pretty much so I slogged on.

When I get back the Man is looking out for me. He says nothing just looks at me with his usual amused rueful grin…the one he uses when I am collapsed by the back door after a ride.  He makes no comments about the rain,  the topless car or the rusted wreck in the passenger seat,  just “I thought you said you bought a frame…what’s with the wheels and other bits” and  “ Kettles on, thought you might like a bath before dinner to warm you up…but would you mind stripping the chicken first so that I can make dinner”

Reader, this is why I married him, because he takes my slightly unconventional  approach to life in his stride and accepts my reasons for doing things as logical for the world in which this family lives in… oh, and cooks a pretty mean stir fry…even if he is squeamish about touching greasy meat (I accept his illogical hang-ups too).