About the bike

 This is my bicycle. We have been together a long time and shared a great adventure. It has been with me through various moves, local and long distance. My current project is  to de-clutter. I am a hoarder and I have challenged myself to sort through everything and be absolutely ruthless. So now, I turn to the bicycle, it has long been consigned to the attic.  It’s time to say goodbye.

I love this bicycle, apart from the big adventure. I have cycled round Hyde Park corner in rush hour on this, I frequently carried it up and down 200 steps under the Thames at Greenwich, but before all that we shared 10 days together in Ireland.

Nearly, 25 years ago I brought it for £10, from an Australian who was returning home and no longer wanted it. At the time I was unemployed, and the furthest me and the bicycle went was the job centre, to sign on.  I was listening to Van Morrison  and developed a romantic notion of travelling round Ireland, and that the bicycle was the perfect vehicle.  I got a new job and had a couple of weeks free before starting. I decided I would go to Ireland. I reasoned if the bike fell apart I would sell it to tinkers.  I brought panniers. Collected a guide to cycle routes from Irish tourist information. I got the train to Hollyhead and the ferry across. One woman and her bicycle.  It absolutely, did not occur to me that I had no cycling experience. 

On the first morning, I got on the bicycle and headed off. It seemed that the Irish tourist board was giving the same route information to articulated lorry drivers. I saw a variety of road kill.  It wasn’t as romantic as I had imagined. At the end of the day I found a B&B. I got up the next morning and repeated the whole process, punctuating some of the journey with a train ride to save time.  The lorries got less and the roads got empty.   I remember two blokes hitch hiking, who laughed at me when I told them where I was headed;  on the, now creaking, bicycle.  Hours later (noisily) I cycled past them  stood at the side of an empty road, it was getting dark and  I waved regally.  I headed for the West and had planned to stay with a friend’s parents. Luckily, they came  out looking for me, I had completely misjudged the distance.  Initially, they drove straight past; they had been looking for someone on a drop handlebar road bike wearing  a “tour de france” sort of outfit.  Not a woman in a sheepskin hat (it was a fad at the time) and a flowery dress, creaking up the road on a ‘sit up and beg’ with a basket on the front. We stashed the bicycle behind a wall and they took me home.  I walked like John Wayne for the next two days, my in experienced muscles went on strike.  Meanwhile, the bicycle was collected from behind the wall and repaired by a lovely Uncle.  On rest day number 3, it was tied to the top a Ford Fiesta and driven to the top of the Connor pass. I freewheeled into Dingle. My legs had adapted. I cycled all day everyday. I was travelling light and packed only two Van Morrison cassettes for my Walkman. It didn’t matter, Van provided the perfect sound track. Travel is so different on a bike, you see more, you can smell the world as you pass it by, people speak to you. 

On day 4 I got up early and cycled to the end of Dingle peninsular. The Atlantic stretched for a thousand miles, the hills were emerald green, the mist was low, Van was singing his heart out and I cried because it was all so beautiful.  I covered nearly 300 miles on the bicycle during my 10 days in Ireland.  I was on my own, I had total freedom, I went at my own pace in the direction I wanted to go.

When I was waiting for the ferry at Holyhead an old Welshman asked me how old my bike was. I said I thought it was pre-second world war. He laughed and said “pre-first”.  This was on the outward journey, and I didn’t really want to consider that I was heading off on something so ancient. So I put the comment to the back of my mind.

In preparing to sell it, I’ve dated the bicycle from the frame number, and it was manufactured in 1909.  I am saying goodbye to a dear old lady, but she has lived in the attic for too long.  Years ago replaced by a shining mountain bike.  This old bicycle gave me a passion for cycling, and helped me develop the physical strength to become a regular cycle commuter.

Hopefully, the bicycle will be equally as loved by someone else, maybe for different reasons. This is my tribute to her.

4 Comments

  1. Superamazingmum

    AM very, very proud of you for blogging – not only 1 but 3 blogs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well done! Now, a very serious question, I want your bike, it is fabulous and I promise I would love and look after it! Let me know how much!!

    Love Superamazingmum

    1. helloitsgemma

      thank you for being the first person to read my blog!
      oh my gosh!!! the bike – firstly, can I say – it’s probably iron, therefore it is very heavy and not an easy thing to ride. What I didn’t mention in blog – it has no working gears, and limited breaking capacity. Secondly, at the moment I have no idea how much it’s worth – so I can’t put a price on it. My intention is to put it on Ebay as it’s proceeds are for a ‘moving’ fund. I’m doing some more research – I will keep in touch (but really if you want a classic bike check out Pashley’s). I’m your ‘blog fan’ now so I will be there every week! thanks for all your support.

      1. Superamazingmum

        Hello again lovely lady, didn’t realise it needed restoration…so not up my street but I have visions of me riding along with organic groceries in the basket, the wind in my hair and rosy cheeks. The reality is probably a frozen pizza, mud from the London cars and too scared to ride on the road!

        I can dream!!!!

  2. Pingback: Emerald Green | Helloitsgemma

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *