Years ago, I was a more than avid cyclist. In fact, until my wife became pregnant for the first time, I had never driven a car. I was 26 when I first got my license. Until then, I travelled only by bicycle. In my sons first two Summers, we travelled by bike quite a bit together. He rode in a back seat behind me on a vintage Raleigh Sports 3-speed. The last two years, with two kids in tow, bikes were out of the question. Until last week, when Mrs. G. purchased a trailer. I tried to hook it up to the Raleigh, but of course it didn't fit...because the Raleigh is English, and nothing fits on it that ain't also English. No matter, it only lit the proverbial fire under my proverbial *ss to complete a project that had been in the cue for a few years.
Behold, my newest old thing: a rescued, re-furbished and totally restyled mid 1980s Fuji touring bike. I found this bike two years ago, leaning against a wall outside the back exit of the Harvard Museum of Natural History...not chained to the bike rack, just leaned against a wall. Back then, it was pale blue, but rusty. The tires were flat and the cables all broken, but it was clear that at one time this was a better than decent road bike. Over the course of that Summer, I saw it there repeatedly. It never moved...the weeds only grew up longer around it. Until finally, after three months, I "rescued" it.
So, I took her home, with an eye to a rebuild. I dismantled her completely, and the old girl lived divided as a frame in my garage, and a box of parts in the cellar, until this week. It became clear to me that I needed a multi geared bike capable of hauling the boy and the girl pronto. First, I cleaned all the parts. I mean cleaned, like with mineral spirits and steel wool. Then I painted her black...because black is sexy. Then I rebuilt her, with a few stylish modifications. In place of the vinyl saddle, I put my old leather Brooks B-17 in 'Honey'. Originally the collective Christmas gift of a number of very close friends years ago, I broke this saddle in by riding it hard on a fixed gear bike for many years. You gotta love that patina, and tell me it ain't tack sharp on a black frame made of lugged steel.
I'd like to say that one day I'll have sewn-on elk hide tape, but I likely never will. Too extravagant. Old-school cork tape in a natural tan is fine by me. On day, I'll own a 1984 Mercedes diesel station wagon that employs the combination of shiny black paint, orange/brown leather, and tan accessories. Until then, I'll settle for this.
I needed a bell. This brass jobbie was on my boy's trike, long forgotten. The handle bars were too wide for it, but that's o.k., because its way cooler mounted on the stem. Ring-a-ding-ding!
Originally a 14 speed, I modified her down to 7 by taking off one of the front chain rings and leaving only the smaller of the two.
Tell me she ain't one good looking piece of simple machinery.
So, what's this got to do with An Affordable Wardrobe? Simple. I basically got this bike in the trash. A little bit of elbow grease, and just shy of $100 later, and I have a well built and damn cool bike. It's useful, it's sharp, it's recycling, it looks good, it's fun, the kids love it, etc., etc...Sure, I could have bought a new 7 speed bike to haul the kids. But it wouldn't be lugged steel, it wouldn't be original, it wouldn't have my blood and sweat on it and it wouldn't be as much "mine".
Learn to see potential in things, and don't be afraid to pour a little bit of your gutsinto it.You'll be surprised.
p.s. here's what she looked like on the day i decided to save 'er: