Wednesday, July 26, 2017

On Sentimentality and a 1974 Raleigh Sports

My 1974 Raleigh Sports has been sitting for some time - probably a few months. I've been tinkering with other projects for awhile, but decided it was time to dust off this old steed and have a few rides with it.

I'm sentimentally attached to this bicycle. I've had it for about 14 years. I bought it for $30 as a base model Sports back in 2003, when another bike was stolen during a black out.

In September 2003, a hurricane struck our area, causing a two-week period with no electricity. I was in college and living a few blocks from campus, commuting by bike. Eventually, part of campus got power back before everyone else did. The library was in the part of campus with power, so I would ride down each evening to charge up my flashlights so I could see better at home, which was still in the blackout.

One night, I returned to the community bike rack about 10 p.m. and found my bike was gone. I got to walk home, which fortunately was not too far.

The next day, I spotted this 1974 Raleigh Sports for $30 and bought it because I liked it so much. The bike became my main commuter for several years, and I added many 'period' touches, like a vinyl saddle bag, B66 saddle, and a lighting system. This really made the bike a "vehicle" for me. I even threw on a Union Jack lapel pin I bought at a kiosk in the mall. Everything was very much, "do it justice for historical accuracy, but also make it fun".

Eventually, I got a car to drive around town and the bike became a leisure item reserved for bike trails and nice days out. The bike served well on many bike trails, both paved and gravel.

Over time, I upgraded the bike a bit from its stock form, but I'm still attached to it. I own a few bikes, some of them very uncommon and very nice. But this one is a classic to me because when I had only one bike and needed it to get home everyday, this one was with me.

We tend to love the things that were there with us when we didn't have much and times were lean. I have many good memories in the saddle on this bike. I've known this bike longer than I've known my wife. When I started riding this bike, I made minimum wage working in the library at college. I remember stopping on this bike to talk to people in the neighborhood and on campus, people I no longer know, or who have passed away.

Fourteen years later, I get into the saddle and put my hands on the grips and everything is very much the same as it was on a September day in 2003. The intervening years haven't dulled the feeling of putting my hands in the finger slots on the Dare grips and getting ready to go. In my mind, I'm still 20 and ready to bounce home from campus. In my mind, it's not a bicycle... it's a time machine.

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