Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Irish Lady

What you see before you is a Raleigh Grand Prix GT MK V made (if I did my serial number search correctly) in Oct 1974 in Ireland. And, yes, she is currently warming herself in the peace in quiet of my art studio.

Two commenters in my last post actually led me to her. One had said to check Gregslist and another said another would “just be around the corner”. Ironically it wasn’t just around the corner but actually two streets up that a gentleman sells bicycles out of his garage as a hobby.

I had my eyes set on another Raleigh in his yard when I came and looked about. I had tried running that one through the gears and it fought me, him, and another guy looking at bikes. Frankly the other was a bit out of my price range but I get focused on something and have a hard time letting it go. That one had fancy stirrups that called to me. But it was a horrible, ugly, powder blue.

If I’m going to start road riding next year I need a road bike. (no offense to my dear “Boba” comfort bike be he isn’t suited to the racetrack, he‘s a daily rider meant for cargo delivery) But I can’t get “any” road bike. First I can’t afford the newer carbon fiber racers. Second they frankly wouldn’t hold my weight anyway. Finally third I want a bike that has a soul, a style, a uniqueness.

Look at those fittings in the picture. This wasn’t a bicycle that was made from cut tubes and shamelessly welded together… “to exacting specifications in China” as my other one claims to be. Nothing against my daily rider, it’s rugged and gets a lot of miles. But look close… the tubes were placed into fittings that even were scalloped and scrolled. It is a piece of art.

As you can see if you click on the very top picture she is in need of much work. One bracket on her seat is out, the cables covers are rotten, cables rusted and frayed. Those old Raleigh racing whitewall tires have the wrinkles of many years of dry rot. The front derailleur is rusted frozen. The front forks are covered in rust. Wildly there is still air pressure in those ancient tires… or they have just petrified? Yet the wheels are true and straight. I think, just maybe with some work, a lot of work, she will fly again.

Maybe that’s part of what this is all about. I’m going to need a lot of work to “fly again” too. Maybe we both can do it together. Maybe the other “shiny” two ones were in fact too easy… I need to remind myself that this fitness journey is about commitment and work. Was the “Green Lady” worth $35 I asked my local bike shop guy… I don’t think I really needed an answer from him as I really know the dream is worth much more than that.

I think there was another lesson for me in this too. While I had looked at the more fancy and shiny one and even asked the man if he had others and he said no… she was there all along. So quiet, right behind me in his garage. The guy even dismissed it saying that it was destined in his eyes just for parts. I have thought of myself so many times as a hopeless case. I have struggled with weight for so long. Yet the answer I was seeking was right under my eyes even as I searched for an old bike.

Maybe that answer we are seeking together is right there in front of us too, we just need to keep searching and not give up! I am nervous that I’m now trying to bring her back from the brink of death… but really that’s what I’m trying to do with me too. I think we can understand each other the Green Lady and I. I think my own wheels are true and straight too.

COMING NEXT!!! A three part series of the adventures of my very first Bicycle Marathon of last weekend complete with some great pictures!!!

Dare to make your dreams reality at Fools Fitness!- Alan


  1. I like it! I don't have the mechanical know-how or the free time to do a restoration, but I like a bicycle with soul. That is what I am missing with my bike journey. I have a new hybrid commuter bike, which is strong enough to hold me and doesn't mind my slow pace. But we both know that the other has no soul for this yet.

    Any ideas for me?

    Big Clyde

  2. What a thoughtful, insightful, applicable to life-ful post. :D Fixing that bike will be a nice summer project. Who knows, maybe by the end, you'll both be shiny, well-oiled and in great shape. Deb

  3. I love this post and the last one.
    I am jealous of your bike.
    I have a ten speed with no air in the tires...I am going to have her fixed.
    10 speeds are the only kind that fly right.

  4. I loved this, too. And especially when you said "I think my own wheels are true and straight too. "

    It's going to be a blast seeing both you and the Green Lady come alive!


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