Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Raleigh Hunter

I get leads time and again about Raleigh's out in the field. The first question I ask is, "What color is your bike?" If black is the answer, I ask more.

Most of the time the seller has no clue as to exactly what there selling. What size frame, what size wheels, leather seat and so on.
Back in the early days of starting my collection, I shopped the "Want Ad" The Want Advertiser was a magazine published in Sudbury, Ma,that if you could get it first, you could get first dibs on the good bikes. The Want Ad had prices, but no pictures, and you never got into the question of, "How much do you want?" Asking the right questions and getting the right answers could save me miles, and time.

I knew of a breakfast joint in Newton that received the Want Ad at 6:30 am. I could get there, buy the magazine and use their pay phone while waiting for eggs and potatos to get ready for the ride for the bike. Every Thursday morning I would have cash ready for the hunt and be ready to make the kill. Moving a bike by bike was the plan. Carrying the frame and fork by "Pack Board" on my back and the wheels and fenders on the carrier rack of my trash pick 23" Raleigh Sports, "pick up bike"'

Things have changed over the years. Craigs List and word of mouth has me heading out with a little better idea as to what is to follow.

I will be heading out today to go look at a pair, Men's and Women's Raleighs and see if what the Gent at the store yesterday told me about is worth retrieving.

Check back later to see if today's "Hunt" was successful.

The Hunt

The First Sighting

The unsuspecting "Matched Pair" resting quietly

Moving in For The "Kill" Thats "V"

Feild Dressing for the Ride Home

The Discovery of Old Wounds

The Transport Vehicle Returns Home

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bare Foot'n

Ya Probably not a good idea to ride your bike bare foot, but on a hot summer day when you need to "Hop on and go" It could be the only way.

Special footwear for years has been my favorite cycling accessory, My pile of shoes in the attic is deep, let alone the rows in my closet. Different cleat designs and different styles of shoes, some date back 35 years when cleats needed to be nailed on.

Felex's in Harvard Square was a favorite of all serious cyclists. He never rode racing bicycles, but knew all about putting on cycling cleats of all types, TA, Berrile, even leather cleats he made himself that you could walk on. But find a Cobbler that knows about cycling shoes now. My guess, it would be impossible.

Hopping on a Bicycle bare foot has you at first realizing that maybe its the wrong thing to do. My guess, riding with no cloths would have the same effect. How could it be possibly better?

I will never forget a bicycle chase with my brother as kids one April day. Yes April. He ran off and I chased him down on a bike. No time for shoes.
After catching him and retrieving what ever the heck he was running off with of mine, I returned back to the garage at the end of a downhill road into a downhill driveway.
Coming into the garage at speed, I put my bare foot down to stop. A cracking noise came from my foot as I hooked my left baby toe in a "Hip Waider" rubber boot, laying on its side.
35 years later my baby toe still reminds me, Always wear shoes while cycling!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bicycles Without Cars

For years I ran my Raleigh Refurbishing shop without a car. It was only after I had my daughter that I needed Auto Transportation.
I always loved cars. The first adult thing wanted was a knife and the second a car.
I remember when I was six years old a neighbor bought a Austin Healey 3000. It was a gold and it look had me hooked. I didn't know it was British, I just loved the way it looked.
After moving to Dover at age 9, I got into gas powered things. I learned at an early age that gas powered bicycles were a bad idea when after being stopped going 60 mph on Walpole street with my 2 stroke South Bend powered Mini Bike. It got taken away.
After crashing on a friends Honda 50, I went back to Bicycles. I hated dealing with the police when I went for a ride, so Powerless 2 wheelers were safer in all senses.

When it came time to cars, my older brother had already taken up all the space in the yard. He had 3. My favorite was a 1949 Crown Victoria. Beautiful. There was always an engine out in the garage or basement.
My Mom had grown up in a family of Car repair people and musisians. During the day they worked on cars and at night, a Swing Band. Its how my Mom and Dad met. It was nothing new to have banging coming from the basement. Music, cars and children was her life. It wouldn't be right unless some kind of Fine Touring Automobile wasn't parked near by. It was nothing to her even up to her last years of life to hop in a car and drive to Montreal or Williamsburg, VA.
I stuck to the Bicycles and started a collection of my own in a corner of the basement.

As years went on, it became a hard habit to break. Fixing bikes for others when the bike boom of the 70's hit was a easy way to make extra money. We always had a shop and with a lathe, grinding wheels and power machine tools it became easy to fix anything. If we didn't have, we made it.
The Dover Dump was a gold mine back then and still is. People with money throw good things out just for more space. The dump was a "University of knowledge" just waiting to be picked for free. Get it and take it apart, Throw it back if it cant be fixed. The best place in the world to shop! If it doesn't work out, simply return it.
The thought of asking for help with moving bikes with a car never crossed my mind. A bicycle trailer seemed as possible as a bicycle headlight as powerful as a car's. That was then and this is now.
Riding two bicycles at the same time was common. Everyone knew how to do it. The bicycles become a 4 wheeled vehicle and if anything happens, just let go.
My longest 2 bike ride to date was with a Raleigh I bought at International Bicycle in Allston and rode 10 miles to Wheelworks in Belmont. When I arrived, Clint saw me and asked, "Where's your helmet?" He didn't see anything strange about riding 2 bikes because he had done it too.
My favorite 2 bike ride was a ride from Chestnut hill Ave. in Brighton to International bicycle in Allston.
I had been hooked up to pilot a tandem with a blind cyclist by the name of Pam. The plan was to meet Pam at her house and bring her tandem to the street, get her on the bike and then along side, wheel my Custom Campagnolo equipped Fixed gear. We were going to the store, drop off my bike, ride the tandem out to Dover and be back by 12:00. She was going to drop off the tandem for repair and take a cab home. I would work the day and ride back to Dover afterwards.
We headed out for what was first down hill into a very busy intersection, turn right and then it would be mostly flat. As we started out down the hill I realized that the Scott Peterson Brakes did not work. No brakes on a tandem is not a good thing, But one handed with an expensive bike in hand is really a bad idea.
I called back to Pam, "You will hear a metallic scraping noise to your right that we will pass. Don't be alarmed, it will be my bicycle."
Pam asked, "Why"
I told her, "Because your tandem has no brakes!"
She said, "Oh ya, that"s why I'm bringing it in for repair."
We made it to the store and with a few adjustments, headed out for our ride safely.

Riding two bicycles after that day seemed easier. Never again did I Not check the brakes of the "Mother Ship" and never felt the need for a car when it came time to move a Bicycle.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Perfect Picnic

Packing for a picnic and not sure what to bring? Funny, anything goes well with outdoor eating, Its just how elaborate you want to make it as to how long it will be remembered.
The time of day is important. Breakfast or brunch picnics are unique and can bring back smiles years later. Its important to have hot food, so a good stove is a good idea. If your reading this, you probably have one or know someone that does. I have gone from a one burner Optimus 8R, white gas stove to a 2 burner Coleman. Its worth having the extra weight and size to have the extra cooking surface. Bacon, although not what I like to eat, Can make a Breakfast Picnic. The smell on the open air with fresh coffee has strangers coming out of the wood, always with a huge smile. "That Smells Good!", Well Ya, its Bacon!
Lunch picnics can be simpler. I carry a table cloth and silver service for two most of the time, just in case. One of my favorite was a full Chinese dinner in a cemetery in Lynfield during a ride from Dover about 35 years ago. We found a stone bench and turned it into a dinner table with the tablecloth. We sat on the ground and feasted.
Dinner seems to be the most popular time to picnic. At the end of the day, finding a new outdoor spot with a view can be the most magical of moments. Again, anything goes. Grab and run, Pack the basket and blanket and head out. Candle light with a little soft music can make any food taste better. As the sun goes down and the bugs move in, it best to be sure to be on high ground for a breeze. Its also nice leaving after packing up to simply roll away.

Picnic in the Pyrenees

In all cases, any food works well, Bring what you have from the kitchen or plan ahead Pizza for breakfast will even work. Its not the food that makes the picnic, its the company.
But, by far, the number one thing to at all times to include , and never forget, is your Raleigh!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Dump Pick Raleigh

There is something very special about a bicycle you pick from the dump. Saving it from the crusher and putting it back on the road for an extended life of real bicycle adventure.
I have had many. My first Golden Arrow came from the Sherborn dump. I got the frame and fork with its Brooks B19 saddle, Black enameled North Road bars, and Raleigh 3 pin crankset. I got the wheels the next week because they had not been thrown out yet. Dunlop 26 x 1 1/4 lightweight Endrick Pattern rims, Fixed and free with a Bayless Wiley 19 tooth freewheel. Very cool bearing design, the B-W had a very different style of bearings that since I have never seen again. Ball and a dimple ended curved rod about 1/4" long and another ball, then another rod, And the Raleigh Wing nuts, Oh those Raleigh Wing nuts!
Anyone can go into a store and buy a bike. With enough time and money, one might find exactly what they want. Shopping the dump is totally different. Its all by luck. Timing is everything but its hard not to feel that you saved the bike and maybe its not by chance that you found it. Of course its a free bike, but when it comes down to it, the money or lack of it, is not the best part.
The first ride on the "Dump Pick Raleigh" has you smiling in short order. It's not long before it strikes you. "How could anybody through this out?" How different it is to enjoy a Dump Pick as much as the next guy on his $5000.00 carbon 11 speed, maybe more.
Then it hits you, maybe its worth more. When you can lean your bike against a store window and come out and find it, you realize full bicycle freedom and what cycling should be. Hop on and go. Lock it where you want. Happy and Heads up. Bike and rider, "One."

Saturday, July 21, 2012


About 15 years ago I met a fellow who had been sent to me for a used 3 speed. I was known back then as the guy with the old British Bicycles, so it wasn't so odd have a stranger come up to me and ask.
I told him that I could find him a nice Rudge or Raleigh 21" 3 speed for around $150. It would take me around a week.
He said "Oh", in a not so enthusiastic way. I could tell the price was not at all what he had in mind. He said that things were tough and $150 was a bit high for him. I think he was thinking more like for free.
I told him that if he went out early, before the trash got picked up, he might just find one being thrown away, Things like that still do happen. It was around the end of the school year and Harvard has been known to toss the most amazing things from the dorms at commencement.
He replied with an "Oh" that was longer and deeper then the last as he looked at down at his feet.
I had to ask, "Whats up?"
He told me, "Well, its all my fault. Last week as I was heading off to work and at the last second before hopping on my bike, I remembered that I had left something in the house. I ran in to get it and when I came out, My Raleigh was gone."
I told him, "Well not your fault, some dope stole it!"
He said, "Well yes its my fault, I leaned it up next to our apartment buildings pile of trash left for pick up. I don't think that the person who stole it realized it wasn't being thrown out."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The "Unnoticed"

Since the early 70's and the beginning of my love relationship with the Raleigh Roadster I have come across many, "3 Speed People" Its not always obvious, but at special times of my cycling life, it comes out in conversation.
Most 3 Speed People don't consider them self as an athlete. They hardly look at them self's as a cyclist at all, but when the subject of bicycles comes up they in most cases say something like, "Oh I have a bike, Its just an old 3 speed." Embarrassed to admit there love for what they think wont be admired by someone riding some new 14 pound Carbon rocket.
Never once has the new "3 Speed Person" acquaintance taken me seriously when I say, "That's my favorite style of bike" It usually takes more story telling to convince the person that I'm in fact telling the truth.
Three Speed People have many similar traits. They love a good book. They love going somewhere on their 3 Speed and finding a shady spot to read a good book.
Don't get me wrong, most 10 speed folk like good books too, but if the shady spot part appeals to you, then maybe its time for a 3 speed.
Three Speed People don't wear special clothing for their rides. They wear clothing.

Three Speed People for the most part don't "Sprocket Talk" It bores them. They would rather talk of beautiful places and beautiful friends and beautiful times with beautiful friends in beautiful places. Slow going in a rush-rush world. Heads up and happy. They smile when they ride because it makes them do so. The challenge of heavy bike and 3 speeds never comes up. They would never think about how far they could ride or how fast. They never compare there "3 Speed Achievements" to other riders. They don't stand along side of friends bikes and squeeze brake levers and lift their bikes, Well maybe to see how heavy it is and not how light. I have always wanted to finish a time trial last on my Roadster with a "Mess of fish" in my wicker basket.
Three speed people like riding in the rain. They have fenders. They talk about the smells, the sounds, the lighting and the rides finish, usually at some beautiful spot. Three Speed People Love Life's simple pleasures as well as difficult tasks. The love people and special moments with friends. They dont need to try to be better, they just are because of just that. Three Speed People don't take them self's too seriously allowing them to at the same time take their surroundings, friends and family very seriously. They see more, find more, enjoy more. They eat real food on rides and not "Powerbars" They take the time to stop.

They use their bike to go to the beach. They ride to the store, to the library or just visit. They don't carry a cell phone to text, They prefer knocking on a door to say "Hello" rather "Thumbing" a keyboard. The "Walking Machine" and not much faster. A "Pace Line" to them is some part on some dirt path somewhere where they dismount, lift the bike and get back on the trail. If done right, its the shortest line. Let it fall and go play ball. Well, not fall. They carry more things, sometimes even their pets.

Sheldon and Cutler West

Three Speed People sometimes hear things like, "You rode from where on that?"

Here's where it becomes complicated: Three Speed People are. They can become over time, but just like putting on a Bunny Suit doesn't turn you into a rabbit, buying and riding a 3 speed, may not turn you into a 3 Speed Person. Its a way of life and a way of mind.

The 3 Speed Person is part of the New England scenery. They have been and will be. Roadster and Rider fit, Elegant and proper not always Understood and only sometimes, Unnoticed.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Touch Up Paint

Its funny how customers think we have touch up paint. Scratches and dings in their paint become our problem the moment they walk through the door.
Manufactures pride themselves in painting their new models in colors never seen before. Something that stands out on the sales floor is a good idea, but when it comes to making an old bike look new, it gets hard.
We always suggest nail polish, but, "nail polish is for girls!" is the look I get from the guys.
We had a "Smart Guy" that came into the store about 10 years ago that was going to find a place for himself in the bicycle market. He seemed to have some money to start with and asked,"If there was anything you would want to have that isn't available for your customers, what would it be?"
The first thing to come to mind was touch up paint.
Turns out the reason it isn't available is because its paint.
Paint, because of state and federal regulations is hard to make and harder to sell.
He bailed out and moved onto bike polish, (an item we didn't need.)
Bianchi "Celeste" seems to be the hardest to find, But with ever increasing supply of nail salons and the desire to have unique nails, nail polish still seems to be the best answer.
Good thing the Raleigh is black!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Jim's DL 1

A certain style and elegance surrounds DL 1 owners. The love for life and its pleasures at a speed to enjoy it all.
This photo came in this morning and started my day off right. Wouldn't it be nice to ride from this spot today? Tea Anyone?

Thank You Jim!