So, as you all may have gathered, I didn’t rent the Brompton. Terrible weather during the latter part of my trip, as well as added familiarity with British back roads was more than enough to dissuade me. That, and a head cold, finished off the rental.
I did rent a bike, briefly, to ride the beautiful Monsal Trail. I’ll write about that another day. I have great photos of the ride, but I’m still processing the billion other photos I took. So stay tuned: that ride’s coming in the next day or two.
In the meantime, my family and I went for a quick trip in our RV. The only bike-related moment of interest was when I met a guy in the grocery store hauling this behind his bike:
I just thought it was a great kid’s trailer: he can help pedal like his dad, lean back and relax… the options were endless. I spoke to dad and son, and found out they were on the first day of a multi-day trip to San Francisco. It was only after spotting the bike at our campground next to another one that I realized the trip wasn’t just a five year-old and his dad, but mom and a much younger sibling, too! Good luck to them. It looked to be an amazing ride!
While I was on the journey home, I received an email from the parents of a former student. They said they had “an old Dutch bike,” and knowing that I was interested in such things, they wanted to know if I would like to have it.
As you might imagine, I responded that I would like that, indeed. A quick conversation on the phone established that the bike was about 40 years-old, and that the mother in the family had brought it back with her after living in Holland for a few years. They sent me a photo of the bike, which was only enough to establish that it was, in fact, an Omafiets-style ladies bike, and the name of the brand: Gazelle. Obviously, once I’d seen the brand, I was even more interested.
When the owner mentioned that they were moving in two days, I offered to drive up tonight and fetch it. When I arrived, she was heading out to another appointment, so we just had a moment for a quick hug and she was gone before I had the bike fully loaded onto my car. This didn’t give me a lot of time to examine it. I sort of threw it on the back of the car and headed out, with an “extra” chaincase and four “new” old tires. I knew just from looking at it that it was in very good condition, but that was about it. It wasn’t until I was halfway home that it occurred to me to wonder if it had gears!
The good news is: it does. Three of them, nicely attached to a Sturmey Archer shifter.
The bike is from somewhere around 1973, she thought, and from what I can see on the internet, that seems about right, give or take two years. The hub is an AB, but undated. The bike has rod-style drum brakes, and is internally wired for both a front bottle-dynamo-driven light and a rear light. I don’t know if either of them work at the moment, because it also has two very flat tires. In fact, the rubber rim liner is falling out of the rear tire’s side, so I can’t even pump the tires up. The bike seems the right size to fit me, though I think I’ll have to lower the seat a bit. I don’t know if the saddle will be comfortable, though the former owner says it was. The rear luggage straps were decayed to the point of breaking, so I took them off. Hopefully I can replace them. It also has a great plastic dress guard, which I think was once clear, but is now a nice shade of pale yellow.
The model is a “Trimsport,” which was clearly never an American import, as I can find very little about it in English on the internet. I have no idea where this bike fell in Gazelle’s line up, but it would seem to be a very good bike, as it has the drum brakes and internally-wired dynamo lighting.
Here’s the bike as it looked when I brought it home, a bit rusty and dusty:
As you can see, she’s a beauty. I couldn’t believe, when I got the bike home, that they had just GIVEN it to me. For FREE. In fact, the owner kept expressing concern that I would have to have it tuned up. I figure I can handle that expense, considering.
Anyone know what the cream-colored thing on the handlebars was? It broke when I removed it, so it’s no more, but I’d still like to know what it might have been for.
Anyway, as soon as I got the bike home, I started with the polishing. The Puzzled Man I Live With came out and pronounced it “old.” He seemed unsure why I would even want the bike. But after an hour with some 000 steel wool and Mother’s Mag, I think even he could see the appeal. The chrome cleaned up perfectly, and since the paint was virtually perfect anyway, that was really all I had to do after a quick wipe-down. Here are some pictures of the shiny chrome in the fading light:
Clearly, a bike like this deserves a great tune-up. So it’s headed tomorrow out to Dutch Bike in Ballard for a serious work-over. The “new” old tires look pretty good, with no cracking. I think I’ll have a pair of those (the best of the 3 matching ones) installed, along retaped rims. The Sturmey Archer hub should just need a bit of grease, and then hopefully it will power the front/rear dynamo lighting. If not, I’ll have to get a new bottle generator, or some new wires (or both), but that shouldn’t break the bank. Obviously, other ball bearing-y areas will need new grease as well. I should think it will all work pretty well, but we’ll see. I don’t know about those 40 year-old drum brakes, though they seem to stop just fine right now (it’s hard to tell when both tires are flat). I may also have the boys at Dutch Bike “lower” the gearing, if that’s easily done, like I had done to The Raleigh, so that this bike will be easier to take up our local hills. But that said, it’s obviously a flat-land bike, so my guess is it will be a paved trail bike for me. Since I live at the top of a very steep hill, it won’t be a daily commuter or anything like that.
Will I like this bike, in terms of riding it? Who knows. I certainly don’t. But it was free, and it’s in near-perfect condition. If, in six months, I decide it’s not for me, I’m sure I can easily sell it. Lately I’ve been needing a bit of bike-spiration, so this should be good for months of enjoyable tinkering and trying-out.
I figure I’ll sink the money into it to get it ridable, then see what it needs from there. If I like it, then I’ll add a new saddle and other goodies as necessary. But as I told My Skeptical Partner tonight: never look a gift bike in the mouth. Particularly when it’s a gorgeous Gazelle!