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Bicycle

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Image from Wikimedia Commons by http://www.flickr.com/people/theeerin/It did not occur to me for a single second that – when during the composition of my last post, (touching as it did upon the subject of my new bicycle) I described the Sturmey Archer three-speed rear hub with which the cycle that I was given in 1965 as ‘prehistoric’ – said engineering marvel might actually still be in production!

Discovering from the InterWebNet that this is indeed the case I was rendered what can only be described as ‘gob-smacked’!

Sturmey Archer was apparently established in Nottingham in the UK in 1902 as a division of Raleigh Cycles and production of their most ubiquitous model – the AW three-speed hub gear – commenced in 1936. For an extended period virtually every three-speed bicycle sold in the UK was fitted with a Sturmey Archer hub gear.

The company got into financial trouble towards the end of the last century and by 2000 was on the verge of bankruptcy. Following a period during which it appeared that the company would disappear without trace the entire assets were eventually sold to a Taiwanese company called SunRace, who moved the whole operation lock, stock and barrel to Taiwan.

Despite discovering that much of the machine tooling was obsolete SunRace persevered with production of the hub gears – and as of 2016 the famous three-speed AW model (amongst many others) was still in production.

Now – whereas I cannot for the life of me imagine what I am going to do with at least two thirds of the twenty four gears that I have on my new machine, I am mighty glad that I don’t still have to cope with the old three-speed hub gear.

But then – I am an old codger these days!

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Photo by Andy Dawson ReidOne of the means by which the Kickass Canada Girl routinely earns her sobriquet is her habit of achieving virtually all of that to which she puts her mind. This is a wholly admirable trait and one for which I am eternally grateful. There are as a consequence, naturally, occasions on which she has set her mind on something and it is best simply to step back and to bow to the inevitable (taking great care that if one attempts to step back and to bow simultaneously one does not fall upon one’s arse!).

A case in point concerns the humble (or not so humble in some cases) bicycle…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidWhen The Girl transplanted her life to the UK – all those many years ago – she brought with her a bicycle. On occasion she would tax me on the subject of acquiring a similar means of conveyance myself – that we might go out riding together. My resistance to the suggestion – on the grounds that the rural roads in the proximity of our residence were both too narrow and over populated with testosterone charged motorists – was expressed with considerable vigour and she decided to let the thing rest… for the time being.

When we crossed the ocean in the opposite direction in 2015 the bicycle did not make the journey with us. It was ‘accidentally’ left behind! I doubt we could have fitted it into the container in any case.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidWe had not long arrived on these shores, however, when – hankering to feel the wind in her hair (whilst also getting some welcome exercise) – The Girl decided that it was time to resurrected her former campaign. Given the wide open spaces, the broad roads and the abundance of clear air into which the testosterone can dissipate she was this time considerably more certain of getting her way. A small unexpected windfall furnished her the opportunity to declare that a trip to the bike shop was in order – with the inevitable result that we are now both the proud possessors of shiny new machines.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidGiven that the last bicycle that I owned (in fact, the only bicycle that I ever owned) was a gift for passing the Eleven Plus exam (at the tender age of – well – eleven!) the reader will not be surprised to hear that things in the bike world have changed in the interim. Changed, indeed, beyond all measure! There is nothing particularly fancy about these machines. They really are pretty middle of the road (though the bike lane would be more appropriate… ho, ho!) but the twenty four gears on this bog standard bike (sixteen of which I have yet to investigate) make my old Sturmey Archer three-speed look positively prehistoric… which, of course, it was…

I do hope that the photographs that accompany this piece do not appear overly fetishistic! Boys and technology and all that…

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