Monday, November 17, 2014

Thanksgiving Morning Fox Hunt Ride

Ever see a real Fox Hunt? They don't hunt real Fox, but they do dress up, ride horses and run the Hounds, chasing the scent of Fox, dragged through the woods on a rag.
For years in Medfield, Ma the Norfolk Hunt Club on Thanksgiving morning has run a English style Fox Hunt through the woods and fields of Medfield, Sherborn and Dover.

Over the past 30 years we have "hunted the hunt" by bicycle. Weather permitting, we will do it again this year. The Hounds follow the scent, the horses follow the hounds and the bicycles follow "The Hunt" Simple as that!

Heres the drill: Meet at the start of the event at 10:00 am Thursday November 27th on North Street in Medfield Ma.and head to the Medfield State Hospital grounds to watch them ride through. Return back to the start by 12:00. Sometimes we catch them and sometimes we don't. We do however get out for what always turns out to be a wonderful ride with a story for the dinner table.

Antique Raleighs or British bicycles only. Proper Dress Required. Helmets optional.

Email me if you have any questions. Cash prize for the "Best Dressed"

Hot Tea will be served. Bring your cup.

We hope to see you there.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Golden Arrow

It wasent until I found my first Golden Arrow in the Sherborn Dump back in the early 70's that I really fell in love with a bicycle.

At that time I had owned 1 Raleigh 23" Raleigh Sports 3 Speed and a 24" Raleigh Sports 4 Speed, but it wasn't until the Golden Arrow that I realized "The Raleigh" was a bicycle of the highest quality that was looked at for years as one of the finest racing machines.

Before the Golden Arrow I had used my Raleighs as "Woods Bikes". Something to get me up to the pond and save time as well as the wear and tear on my racing bike and lightweight wheelset. Sort of a all purpose bicycle for camping and shopping the dump. Named by my close friend, Jon Currier, "Mobile Unit 1", was my pick up truck of bikes. I could move two complete bikes on my Raleigh Sports and not have to worry about puncturing a Tubular Tire or "Sew Up" as they were known back then.

My first Golden Arrow came in 3 phases. The first was the frame. I noticed immediately the differences in the frame angles, headset and removable chainring. The bicycle had no wheels. Figuring it was a three speed, I shopped the dumps for a set fitting for my new bike.
About a week later back at the Sherborn Dump, I found the wheel set. Fixed and Free, front and rear with the "R" wingnuts. There must have not been enough room in the car for the wheels on the first trip to the dump. The bicycle at this time still had black North Road Bars instead of the Lauterwasser style that it was originally sold with.

26 x 1 1/4 EA1 tires were rare back then I managed to scoop a pair of near perfect Dunlop Roadsters with the wheelset, but bicycle shops no longer sold that size.
It wasn't until about a year later, a roommate of a close friend came across a 30's Raleigh with Drum Brakes that felt the bike more fitting with up right bars, so we swapped.

Me on my Golden Arrow in October of 1977 after crossing into the infield at the flooded track at Watkins Glen for the US Grand Prix

The Golden Arrow as a fixed gear became my primary bicycle. I rode it everywhere. After becoming use to it super laid back feel with its very relaxed headtube angle and extremely raked fork, It became normal to me and felt right.
As time went on I would meet older riders that recognized the bike from having owned one. They too knew the feel of the Arrow and the love for the Raleigh. I learned that the bicycle was made in two sizes, but it was only the smaller 21" frame that was preferred by riders of all heights. The laid back seat tube angle would create the perfect top tube length as the seat was raised for the rider.

Bill Vandell on his 1936 Raleigh Golden Arrow. This shot was taken by Mr Landry in Concord, Ma in 1937

The Golden Arrow to this day remains my favorite Raleigh. I have owned three. On a later date I will do a "Part Two" to this story of how I came across my third. It was truly a dream come true!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Reinventing the Bicycle

Over the last 10 years we have seen old designs become new. Fixed and Free bicycles, the normal bicycle until the early 40's have become the New bicycles of today.
Simple and clean drive trains are now what's mostly seen on big city streets here in the U. S. Single speeds appeal to new riders for the light weight and lack of maintenance.
Walk through any large bicycle shop and you will see, one speeds, two speeds, three speeds, all the way up to Eleven.
Raleigh for years offered Sturmey Archer 3 Speed hubs as an option only. Bicycles for the most part came as a one speed. Freewheels were normal gear, but Fixed Cogs were found on all racing models.
Years ago, I was working at a shop that dealt with all new old stock as well as used classic lightweights. Everything we sold except for rubber and cables was antique. One day a older gent and a friend showed up with a Drysdale, "Red Devil" The Red Devil was one of the favorite of all the road racers back in the 30's. (The other was the Raleigh Golden Arrow) Fixed gear, simple and clean as a whistle.
As the gents unloaded the bike they were selling for a friends wife, who had passed away, we chatted about riding "Fixed."
I told them that I had my first in the early 70's, a Golden Arrow and now had 2 custom built bikes as well as 3 Arrows. I went on to say, I Love my Fixed Gears, People think I'm Nuts! I ride them everywhere! In the woods as an off road bike and once back from Montreal!
They looked at me like the child I was and still am and said, "Did you ever do it on wood rims? We didn't have paved roads when we were growing up. We knew a rider was out of shape when they would show up on one of those "Derailleur Bikes".
The fellow was Joseph Cote. He went on to tell me they use to ride 52-13 fixed. It was easer on the down hills. A normal training day was 180 miles.
Bill Vandell of Vandell's in New Bedford, Ma. was the same way. High gears and big miles, he would head out in the morning from New Bedford and ride up to Vermont and be back home for dinner. Dirt roads for the most part. He rode a Golden Arrow.
Times have changed. Riders prefer lower gears. Fixed for fashion and not proper form. Road racing is derailleur bicycle only but back in the 30's they were not allowed. Excepting the derailleur was hard here in the States and for some today as well.

Bill Vandell and his 1936 Raleigh Golden Arrow