1 EAGLETON NOTES: Personal Transportation: My First Bike

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Monday, 17 February 2020

Personal Transportation: My First Bike

When I passed the 11+ in 1955, my parents bought me a Triumph Palm Beach bike (bicycle frame number 71512TH) with Sturmey Archer 3-speed gears and Dynohub lights. It was the bees knees. I cycled the (almost) three miles to and from school in all weathers on it until I left school. The most miles I did on it in one day was to North Wales and back. I clocked on the little clicking mileometer 98.4 miles. I can always remember the figure because it is the 'normal' Fahrenheit temperature of the human body. When I arrived home I only had to ride around the block to make it 100 miles but I was just too tired. 

I've been trying to find one of my own photos of the bike but I've not yet been successful. So here are two from Google. The first shows the Dynohub on the front wheel but not the saddlebag nor the white-sidewalled tyres which were standard on the new one. The second picture shows the latter two but not the Dynohub.




What was your first 'proper' form of personal transportation?

47 comments:

  1. As a 16-17 year old I bought myself a 50cc 2 stroke moped to get to and from work. I bought it on hire purchase as I didn't have enough money to buy it outright. After about 6 months I skidded on a patch of mud on a bend and wrote it off. I still had pay it off over the next 18 months but at least the bus journey to work was warm and dry.

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    1. JayCee, I shall be posting about my 50cc adventure soon. I'm sad that you had the accident and lost your moped. I hope that you were not hurt. Did you live then where you live now?

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    2. Thanks Graham. Although I got off lightly, I did suffer leg abrasions and a knee injury and still bear the scar! This was when I still lived at home and was driving along one of the back roads behind Heathrow Airport. Luckily a kind woman driving behind me in her car witnessed my crash and drove me back home. When I saw the mess my leg was in I called a friend who sent her dad round to take me to the local A&E Dept to be patched up.

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    3. Thanks for the explanation JayCee. I'm glad that you were looked after.

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  2. That looks rather gay in the old fashioned sense of the word. I can vaguely recall a pedal car that I scootered as I couldn't make it go with the pedals. Bloody thing used to cut my heels to shreds.

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    1. I think, Adrian, that there was a slightly different approach then: bikes were just getting 'modern' with flat handlebars and so on after the sit up and beg Raleigh etc dominance. I'd not included my pedal car and tricycle because they were not quite "means of transportation" in the way that I was thinking.

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  3. Beautiful bike
    First transport...Cardboard sledding.

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    1. Maywyn it was quite a 'modern' bike at the time. I never got to sled as a child so far as I can recall.

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    2. I sledded in the hilly forest behind my house growing up - Dad used to go first, to "pack down" the trail. That way we very light-weight kids could be assured to stay in the track of the plastic tub sled and not break our crullers on the trees... Dad loved sledding more than we did, if that's possible.

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    3. Marcheline, I think I'd have loved sledding too. We used to take the children on plastic sleds in the '70s when we had occasional snow falls here.

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  4. Sidewalk skates, the kind you clamped on to your shoes with a skate key!

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    1. Jill, I admire you for that. I could never master what we called 'roller skates' although, oddly, I did actually manage to ice-skate after a fashion.

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  5. It must have meant a lot to you that you have such fond memories of it. Do you still ride?

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    1. Jules, it was my pride and joy and I rode it for many miles over many years. I still ride (and have two bikes) although not very often. I shall eventually blog on my 'full circle'. Do you cycle in the Lake District?

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  6. I must have been nine years old when I got my first proper bicycle. I received it on Christmas morning and my disappointment was felt quite deeply. It was a second hand bike. At least twenty years old and had it had been roughly repainted and serviced. It was a "Hercules" bike. Why my parents could not push the boat out to get me a brand new bike I have no idea. Maybe they didn't like me.

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    1. YP, that is one of the saddest comments I can recall ever having on this blog. I think my parents stretched themselves to buy my bike. They were not very well off in 1955 and biles were comparatively far more expensive than they are now.

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    2. My first bike which I received when I was about seven was also second hand but it never occurred to me to want anything else. MY next bike was a red folding bike, second hand, heavy and ugly.

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    3. Kylie, I suppose that if it got you to and from where you wanted to go then it did have advantages.

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  7. I got a small bike with the pedals on the front wheel when I was five. Then a "real" one but not sure exactly when. I think my first attempts to ride that one did not go well, so I let it be for a while... But at age 10 I had learned, and did cycle t to and from school for three years, except in winter. (Which were always snowy back then. At least in my memory, and photos!) I had around 2 km to school, and it was down one hill and up another (both ways, funny enough!). From age 13 I took the bus to school(s) in town, around 15 km away from the village where I lived.

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    1. Monica, I had completely forgotten about my little tricycle like that which you describe. I love your humour (hills). I had nearly 5k to school and I often cycled home for lunch too in the summer. The worst was cycling in the terrible fog/smog that we used to have.

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  8. My feet and legs were my first proper forms of transportation. And the status quo remained until many years later when a car was introduced into my life.

    My brother had a bike when he was a kid, but I never did. I always wanted one, and was a little envious of those who did have their own bike, but the envy was minor. I understood the main reason for my not having my own bicycle was we...meaning Mum and Nana...couldn't afford to buy me one. I had generous friends, though, who let me take their bikes for a spin once in a while. :)

    I received five years of piano lessons instead of receiving a bike.

    And, now that you've stirred up memories...the last time I've ridden a bike was back in 1974! My mother had just passed away, and I'd flown up to Mackay (Slade Point) where she and her mother, our Nana lived...to be with Nana and to attend to funeral arrangements etc. One day...just to escape, to clear my head...to be by myself for a while, I borrowed the neighbours bike and went for a ride around the beach suburb.

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    1. Lee, we used to call walking shanks's pony. I'm not sure why. I still did a lot of that and still do. I'm afraid that my ability with the piano was terrible and doubtless a disappointment to those of my family who played very well.

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    2. We referred to walking as "shank's pony" too, Graham.

      "Traced back to shanks-nag, 1758; The expression -- believed to be Scottish in origin (i.e. shanks-naig 1774), refers to the use of shank to refer to the part of the human leg between the knee and ankle."

      https://wordhistories.net/2016/07/05/shanks-pony/

      My five years of piano lessons served me well at the time. I always received top marks in my exams, but these I can't play a note...not even Chopsticks. Also...these days I don't have a piano! :)

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    3. Thank you for that bit of education, Lee.

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  9. My first personal transportation was a bicycle. It was a little too big for me to start with.

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    1. Or, Red, were you a little too small for it: you grew bigger but it never grew smaller.

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  10. I was about 9 or 10 years old when given my first bicycle, as we had a two mile ride to reach school (and later on to catch the college bus). I remember when learning to ride it that I accidentally rode into the corner of the house and my mum was more concerned about the damage I had done to the timber than what I had done to myself!

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    1. Margaret, I'm sure your Mum made sure that you were okay before worrying about the house. Leastways I'd like to think that was the case.

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  11. Definitely a bike, I remember my dad bought my sister and I Raleigh 20 bikes, then when we were older we got a ten speed each, I remember biking with friends around town through the traffic, was great to be able to get out and about.

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    1. Amy, 10 speeds...that tells me how much younger you are than I am. Sturmey Archer made a 4-speed hub but I only knew one person who had one. His Dad was a Headmaster.

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  12. I had my first bike was when I was about 6. It was secondhand, red, and had a removable crossbar, so it could be either a boy's or girl's bike. I loved that bike, and would often strap my fishing rod to the crossbar and cycle about 10 miles to a small pond where I had permission to fish. It's other great use was for following the village fire engine to watch them putting out fires (or attempting to).

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    1. Cro, I hope that you were a little more than 6 cycling 10 miles to go fishing. Well either that or your Dad was with you (on the assumption that it was Dad who was the fisher and not your Mum. Mind you I'm talking as a suburban city dweller.

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    2. No, totally alone. I'm amazed they allowed it, but I may not have mentioned that I was going fishing.

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  13. When my sister and I were still in elementary school (I guess I was about 8 or 9 years old), my parents bought us a children's bike from a neighbour whose daughter had outgrown it. I remember that they gave the neighbour 10 Deutschmarks for it. The frame was painted in cheerful red and white. We shared it between us, but my sister being the older one always had first choice, of course. Once she grew too tall for it, it was mine for a while, until I needed a "big" bike as well. As far as I know, those first big bikes of ours were also second hand.

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    1. Meike, my brother was 5 years younger than I was so sharing a bike didn't arise. Oddly I can't recall my brother having a bike as a teenager. I must ask him.

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  14. Can't remember my first bike but I did have this one built and raced it too https://www.pedalroom.com/bike/the-flying-gate-track-1981-tj-cycles-41225

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    1. Andrea, the idea of a racing bike like that with my hands so far below the level of my bum scared the living daylights out of me. I hated not having my eyes on the road ahead. I'm really a real feartie when it comes to things like that on a road with other vehicles around.

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  15. Not having my own bike was always a bone of contention with me and my younger brother. Why did a boy need a bike to ride to and from school and a girl only 12 months older was big enough to walk. But thankfully he was happy to share it at the weekend and the fact that it was a "boys" bike worried me not in the slightest. When trying to master 'Look, no hands" I clearly remember smashing into the neighbours small tree on her footpath and going crying to Mum, not about being hurt but about damaging the tree. That bike must have been built like a tank, it got passed down many times over and saw many adventures.

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    1. Pauline, I can well understand why you were peeved about not having a bike when your younger brother did. I can just imagine you doing "Look, no hands!"

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  16. I never owned a bike and I never learned how to ride a bike. I could ride a tricycle when I was just a little tyke, but because we lived on a dirt road, my father said (although I think it was really because we were poor and buying groceries was higher on his list of priorities than buying a bike), I never got one. Houses were far apart in rural Texas and it wasn't like my friend next door could show me how on his bike. My friend lived a mile away and it was inconvenient.

    I don't know if any of the above is true but it's what I grew up consoling myself with. A co-worker tried to teach me to ride a bicycle when I was about 40 but that didn't go well at all.

    I don't swim well either, but that's a story for another day.

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    1. Bob, I can well imagine that in a land so vast a pedalbike would be a rather inadequate form of transport. It's hard, nowadays for many of us to realise and to recall when a bike could be a relative luxury. I'm not a brilliant swimmer either.

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  17. First transport: A not quite full-size forest green Raleigh bicycle with a saddlebag slightly smaller than the one in your second photo. I remember being so happy to receive a silver bell for its handlebars. However, it wasn't much good on hilly terrain. Think I might have spent as much time walking it as riding it.

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    1. Mary, bikes were very heavy then and didn't have all the gears of a modern bike so riding in hilly terrain could be very hard, as you said.

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  18. My first parent-given "transport" was a plastic pinto pony on springs... I loved that horse! I actually still have the horse in my attic (sans spring frame). The next was a blue two-wheel bike, which I learned to ride with the help of "training wheels". After I mastered riding without the trainers, I used to build small ramp jumps in my back-yard and get airborne! Next up was horses, but I couldn't afford to buy or board my own, so I rode the ones at local riding stables (took lessons, etc.)... loved jumping!

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    1. Marcheline, only you would manage to build ramps to test your cycling prowess. I only had a brief flirtation with horses. The only time I have broken a bone (apart from a few broken ribs in Oz a few years ago).

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  19. I already commented about my first two bikes, did they count as transport or were they more like toys? I'm not sure. I think I rode the red one to piano lessons. I got a new, silver bike the Christmas I was 15 and that was transport but I don't think I rode it much, I always preferred walking.

    Since then I have never owned transport of my own, my husband bought all the many cars we had and his name was always on the paper work. The car I now drive is still owned by him because I can't afford to buy it from him

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    1. Kylie I'm sure, as I said on your first comment, if they got you from A to B then they counted as transport. At 15 I was very much into cycling wherever I needed to go. Walking was all very well but it was slow. I've never been without motorised transport since I was 17 and the idea of not having the freedom of a car horrifies me. I accept that I am one of the fortunate ones but I am also getting to a stage in life having been driving for 60 years that a time will come when I am unable to have that freedom.

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