The last post on the traditional British club run made me want to look for a photo of the old Reynolds 501 I used to ride. In digging through photo albums, I found a few of my early bikes and my introduction into cycling
Apparantely, this is me, aged 3 (I guess it’s all downhill from age 3) I don’t remember this bike at all. I think I once rode this bike down the stairs by mistake. Fortunately, I don’t remember that incident either; though my mother seems to think it is amusing to share that story with everyone who comes to visit.
My next bike was a bmx, though I can’t find a photo. I think it was on a bmx I learnt to ride a bike. Funnily enough as a young child I didn’t like cycling at all. I remember at school having an opportunity to get my cycling proficiency badge. But, I said I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t cycle. I think I was about the only one in the whole school who never passed their cycling proficiency test!
I didn’t start cycling until I was maybe 13 or 14. My first ‘proper bike’ was this green mountain bike. When I first started to ride, it felt supremely exotic and magnificent. But, looking at it now, I don’t think it would even be classed as a mountain bike. It looks more like a cheap hybrid with steel forks and steel frame. But, compared to riding a bmx, it literally flew along the road. In those days you evaluated a bike solely on the number of gears. The more gears the better. ‘My bike has 20 gears’ – ‘well my bike has 30!‘ I think that’s why, for a time, mountain bikes became more popular than road bikes.
Sadly, this bike got stolen when I was 18. I lent it to my sister, who lent it to a friend who forgot to lock it in Oxford city centre. But, I’d stopped riding it by then.
Anyway I did do quite a bit of riding on this bike. I once did 70 miles, and that got me hooked on road cycling. I hardly ever used the mountain bike for off-road cycling, so my next bike was a proper road bike.
This bike cost £270 from Ellis Briggs in Shipley, and was probably several combined birthdays and Christmas presents rolled into one. It’s funny that I remember the exact price after all those years. There’s a few relatively interesting points about these photos.
- I absolutely loved that King of the Mountains jersey and would take it on nearly every ride. Eventually it fell apart because I was always stuffing the kitchen sink down the front and back of my jersey.
- I have no idea what I have stuffed down my jersey, I can only guarantee it wasn’t a case of childhood obesity. It might have been a set of maps. In those days, I used to always carry about 2-3 ordnance survey maps for any bike ride. Bike rides were always great adventures when you went on roads, you’d never been on before.
- I probably thought those wrap around shades were the coolest thing since lycra. It’s amazing how your perspective on what is cool changes over the years.
- The bike looks proper old school – gear levers on the down tube, cycling shoes and toe straps!
- The gear ratios were old school too 52-42 and only about a 21 lowest on rear cassette.
- I love the good old fashioned pumps that fitted in your seat tube.
- The bike lasted a long time, though rather sadly a few years ago got chucked on the recycling skip after rusting away.
When I went to university, I spent my student loan on a new white Ribble – Columbus SL tubing and Shimano 105. Fortunately or unfortunately, I couldn’t find the photo of me at Oxford University Cycling Club – we had a club photo on the steps of the Bodleian library and I had a two year afro haircut which looked a little bizarre on this stick insect frame.
On my return to racing in 2004, I got this yellow ribble. A scandium frame I think. Very light. A step up from my first tricycle.