May 2023s Calendar Belle
Janet's Adventures with Bikes
I always had a bike as a kid, which is strange because no one else in my family had them. The first one of course was a tricycle – a fancy two toned blue affair with mudguards that I got from Santa Claus at my Dad’s Christmas work party. The party was a big event outside in the sunshine (it was South Africa after all) and the parents put aside money each month and chose presents from a catalogue.
I was five.
The next bike I can remember was a second hand blue Raleigh Twenty. Not just any Raleigh Twenty, but one with back pedal brakes and back pedal gears. I thought it was normal for bikes to come to a skidding halt by slamming down on the pedals. Everyone rode a bike to school in New Zealand, but I never remember having to lock them up.
I was 12.
Throughout secondary school and at Uni, I had a drop handle 18 gear Peugeot road bike. Sounds fancy, but before the internet, that was all we could find by way of second hand bikes for sale in the newspaper. It was way too big for me and you had to reach down to change the gear levers on the down tube. When I rode it to work from Shipley to Bar Lane in Riddlesden (before we had bike lanes), the only place to store it was in the toilet next to the reception area.
I was 22.
Looking out for a bargain, I found a second hand Raleigh Twenty at auction. It was in pristine condition and rode it for many years to work in Bradford city centre. I still have it. By this time ebay sold lots of bikes. I got a ‘Dirty Joe’ mountain bike from a guy in Leeds who built it for his wife. At the Museum where I worked, you had to carry bikes down two flights of stairs and store them in the basement. My boss at the time was called Joe. When I got a promotion, I treated myself to a brand new Strida bike. My work colleagues laughed their heads off and I don’t blame them – Stridas are strange triangle shaped bikes with a single gear, belt drive and fold in 10 seconds flat. Great for putting in the back of the car and storing under your desk. I always had a big smile on my face riding that bike home. After a few years it needed servicing and nobody could fix the internal hub brakes; also you can’t ride that triangle shape while pregnant, so regrettably it got sold on.
I was 43.
When I was made redundant, I started working freelance from home. With no daily bike ride to work and a sedentary desk job, I went up two dress sizes in a few years. I realised I missed my bikes and, I can’t remember how it happened, I joined the Saltaire Breeze rides. Tootling on the canal towpath needed a different kind of bike so I found a very bouncy dutch style bike on ebay for the grand sum of £32 and guess what, it had back pedal brakes. I really enjoyed riding that bike for a few years and only just recently gave it up to Margaret Carey Bikery charity, because now that I go riding two or three times a week with Bingley Belles, I’m looking to buy an electric bike.
I’m now 58.