Sunday, September 25, 2016

Full Cycle

A question in our local newspaper prompted this one...
"Did you get a Raleigh bike as a child? Do you have one now? Was it a treasured gift? Did you buy it new or was it a well-used hand-me-down?
One of the oldest names in bicycles will cease production in Canada by the end of this year.  Share you memories..."

Growing up in India with a middle-class income meant that luxuries were definitely hard to come by and a new bicycle would definitely be classified as a luxury.

My father, a hard-working school teacher, however, was not going to deprive his offspring from learning a skill.  One summer holiday, (we always went to my grandparents who lived in a large city) when I was about 11 years old, he rented bicycles by the hour from a rental store and spent many an hour teaching me to ride.  We did know that when the holiday was over there wouldn’t be a bicycle for me to ride since my school was in an isolated town with no bicycle rental shops. So it was with a heavy heart I bid adieu to my rental bike.

I woke up on the last day of the holidays to hear the incessant ringing of a bicycle bell and rushed out to see a beautiful new shiny black bicycle in the foyer.  I could scarcely believe it was for me. 

Turns out it was a Raleigh that my father had carefully restored and painted.  The Raleigh was inherited from his father during the pre-independence days sometime in the 1940s and had been lying forgotten with a pile of junk.  Despite that, all it really needed was some cleaning, oiling and new tubes for the tyres and it was good to go!  

With great ceremony the bike was strapped to the back of the auto and then onto the bus.  (A pedal had to be removed to accommodate this and I carried the pedal with me at every stop we got off)!

I have spent many a happy hour cycling all over on that bike. My best friend at that time had got a bike too and you can imagine the shenanigans we would have been up to!

A particular incident that comes to mind is free-wheeling down a steep slope (to impress my classmates), but ending up loosing control and landing ignominiously at the bottom of a cypress tree!

Image totally inspired by Saumya from NourishandCherish

I had the Raleigh for several years but way back in 1990 we gave it away to an impoverished student who had to travel miles to school and don’t know what became of that bike since.