Currently my latest and greatest bike is a custom build by Martin at the excellent Tavistock Cycles on a Genesis Tour de Fer lightweight steel frame. Setup for touring with some pretty low gearing, disk brakes, drop bars and the usual sort of stuff.
Here’s a list of the wheels I have owned or ridden from age 5 to 65:
1957-1958 Tricycle – I think it must have been a 5th birthday present as I have a memory of riding it in the small back garden in Bangor, N.Ireland and then on the veranda and lawns at Deeracres
I must have learnt to ride a two-wheeler sometime around 1958-1960 but I don’t remember it clearly, or what bike I had. We were overseas for a year ’59-’60 and I don’t think I had a bike in Africa, but I do remember riding one to Boldre Church in a party from school in ’60-’61.
1961-1963 My first proper bike about which I remember almost nothing. There is one photo of me riding it in the garden at Goblins2 which I think may have been where I learnt in summer’ 61
1963-1965 Nick’s old 3 speed whist living in Graffham. I remember being puzzled that it was much harder to pedal in 3rd gear than 1st. (eventually I got an A in Physics A-level!). I got a speedometer (possibly a birthday present) and discovered I could top 30 mph on the downhill lane coming into Graffham from the Heyshott direction – just as well there was not much traffic around then as there was a junction and two blind corners at the bottom!
1965-1968/9 Dawes 5 speed drop handlebar “racer”. At school we would pour over the Campagnalo catalogue to specify our ideal bike and study the ads in Exchange & Mart for good sounding second-hand bikes. Claud Butler was our dream. Friends who lived in London seemed to realistically expect to be able to go round to check out 2nd hand 10 speed with Campag gears and Wienmann 999 centre pull brakes for a tenner. Living out in the sticks this seemed a distant dream (as was a tenner!).
I won £15 on the premium bonds and the parents decided it would be a good idea to spend it on my behalf on a new bike as a surprise. Hence the Dawes – of course nowhere near the dream spec, but a big step up nonetheless.
The Dawes lasted at least until I was 16 in Elstead and thinking about a BSA Bantam motor bike – the parents made me hold off until I could learn to drive a proper car and the Dawes was a good source of freedom in my final year at school. A big capacious saddlebag to put my uniform in helped once out of the gates.
1969-1971 ?bike whilst at Cambridge – what happened to the Dawes? Was it back to Nick’s old bike for Cambridge? I did have one there at least for the first year. By the drop out year three I had acquired a van.
1972-1976 – bikeless? Living in London as documented in The Young Ones on tv, a bike didn’t really fit in. I did borrow an old banger from Mike one Saturday to cycle from East Finchley out to Ascot for a Jazz Festival where I drank and smoked a lot and set off to ride back to Lewisham about midnight – made it before daylight somehow.
Met Jane about ’76 and she had a bike which she let me ride back from a Sunday lunchtime session in the Woolwich Tramshed whilst she went back on the train to East greenwich with everyone else. I got there first and was blown away both by the bike experience and its owner…
1977-1979 Motobecane 10speed bought second hand in London 1977. Used for commuting daily from East Greenwich and South Norwood to Soho. This was before the days of cycle lanes. I remember breaking the radio aerial off the back of a posh car that tried to cut me up in Trafalgar Square. Richards Bicycle Book taught me how to ride properly in traffic as if I had a right to use the road. Got car-doored once (not badly, I saw him just in time) and came off once on snow and ice descending a back road from Crystal Palace, but apart from that no problems.
1979-1989 Dawes Galaxy 10speed 1979 bought in Southampton. Commuting and occasional tiring. Ride to Devon with Jane 1979. Wrote off bike in accident c1989.
1989-2007 Replaced with new Galaxy from Saltash Cycles. Holiday ride Saltash Taunton 1990. Holiday in France with MikeT c2004. Commuting TSW, CCT, Saltash College, Thames, APTN. Lasted until 2007
2007-2015 Specialized Tricross from Certini in Saltash. Also Dahon Folder (2007-continues).
Specialized Elite on loan 2015 for Paris ride
2016-continues Custom Genesis Tour-de-Fer. My best bike yet.