Monday, November 2, 2009

Old style cycling

Old style cycling

While cycling to work this morning (well in fact I originally wrote this on 10th August on another forum) with my briefcase hanging on the handlebars of my old fashioned ungeared sit-up-and-beg bicycle, parallel to the frame, I realised of course that a gentleman cycling to work in the first half of the 20th century didn't have a rucksack on his back to crease his jacket and make him sweaty, or panniers on a carrier on the back of his bicycle, he simply hung his briefcase on the handlebars.

This is perfectly safe on old fashioned bicycles because the handlebars being correctly up quite high and the bicycle frame itself prevent any risk of the briefcase going into the wheel. I changed over to such a bicycle about 8 years ago, due to pains in my lower back from hybrid, mountain and racer style bicycles.Since then I have had no pains, as I sit up straight & my backside resides on a very comfortable sprung Brooks leather saddle - Made in England of course.

I have no gears, so I have to use more leg power, good for the old heart! So no unsightly cables.I have a dynamo light on a bracket in front of the headset - so no batteries. Also I only have a coaster brake, so again no ugly cables.I also have no need for a carrier,as I have handlebar and saddle bags, in keeping with the vintage look. Which on an old bike is easy because of the metal loops on the saddle and the space on the handlebars that aren't cluttered up by lights, cables, gear changers etc. And an old-fashioed bell out by one of the handgrips.

Of course vintage cycling isn't just about old fashioned practicality,ease of use and comfort; it is naturally also about the dignified look! And the positive looks and remarks one garners from passers-by.
For example, last Thursday, as I came out of a shop ,there were two old men admiring some of the bicycles outside , and as I cycled off one said, "that's a nice bike you've got there".Now I don't think they'd have said that if I was on my Claud Butler hybrid.

Old style cycling - comfortable, clean, easy, healthy...but most importanlty perhaps, elegant and refined.

Since August however, in fact in late September I converted my "new" sit up and beg into a 1930s style "path racer"

More about such oddities later.