Friends, I have done something rash: I bought a bike. A few decades ago, I had a nice little orange step-through fixed-gear Malvern Star with back pedal brakes, which I rode around my childhood farm and on nearby roads with carefree, helmetless abandon. Fast-forward to 2016 and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve ridden a bike since then. I’ll be honest – the idea of riding a bike with gears scared the bejesus out of me, what with my apprehension of a system I didn’t comprehend, and its clunk-crash-clank sounds. Like gardening, I’ve always felt I was better at looking than doing.
However, a few years ago I started following a rather wonderful blogger, Velouria at Lovely Bicycle!, and on and off would visit her blog for a bit of bicycle/riding inspiration. Her words reassured me that yes, even I could aspire to riding a bike for pleasure (pleasure, what!??), and that I didn’t need a fancy uber-pricey do-it-all bike. Thank you, lovely writer!
So this month, after reading this informative post (and also this earlier post, plus loads more at her blog and elsewhere online), I posted a Wanted ad for a vintage ladies 3-speed step-through bike on some local Facebook buy/swap/sell pages. In short time I was offered an ’80s Malvern Star ladies 3-speed that had been relegated to the shed twenty years ago; with nostalgic thoughts of my long-ago Malvern Star, I made arrangements to have a look. The bike – a made-in-Taiwan Speedwell, not the anticipated make (an error made, I think, because the handbook the buyer had been given at purchase was for a Malvern Star) – was rusted but straight and seemed gently used, and when I hopped on for a quick ride up the driveway my hopes were rewarded: finally, gears that didn’t fill me with dread, and a riding experience I didn’t feel negatively about! Very quickly we settled on a price, and I drove home with a silly grin.
My first task at home was to take dozens of photos to illustrate its “before” condition, discovering that this is a great way to get to know a new project without actually getting one’s hands dirty (a thing I dislike, and which you’ll appreciate makes repairs and gardening difficult!). I am hoping that with a little effort it will tidy up nicely – nothing too ambitious, mind you, but enough to get it running safely and well, and after that we’ll see.
As a “first bike” (I like to think of myself as a born-again bike virgin) I think it’s perfect: it’s in original condition, doesn’t appear to have been crashed, has mud and chain guards, sprung saddle, a rack at the rear, and scope for improvements. It even has the original bike shop sticker and handbook – albeit not one for this make or model! – and that’s the kind of provenance I had hoped for.
Now, to find a helmet I can live with….