“The gross and net result of it is that people who spent most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are nearly half people and half bicycles…when a man lets things go so far that he is more than half a bicycle, you will not see him so much because he spends a lot of his time leaning with one elbow on walls or standing propped by one foot at kerbstones.”
I had a beautiful bicycle between 2011 and 2015. She (and she certainly was a ‘she’, though she didn’t have a name) was a shiny red, steel framed, 1974 Raleigh-made BSA – so built in Nottingham back in the days when England had a bicycle-making industry – with a wide sprung Brooks saddle, three gears, and a bell. An English rose of a bicycle.
She wasn’t built for Sheffield’s hills at all, and I often used to struggle riding her. But when I did get going on downhills and flat, it was a joy to whizz along with the wind in my hair and the gentle tick-clicking of the wheels going round. She was as stylish as me.
I had ideas to go and get her and bring her to Barcelona on the train. But I’ve not been able to ride a bike, I’ve nowhere to put her, and a lovely bike like that would get stolen in five minutes here.
So she’s a lost love. We had some good years together, my dear x