Previous Page
Urban Velo
Next Page

Publisher's Statement

I guess I’m getting old. I realized this the other day when I saw an antique car parked in front of an old man’s garage. I’m no expert on cars, but I’m pretty sure it entered the world a few years before its owner. And he probably chose that vintage because it’s the car he remembers from his boyhood. A time when things seemed simpler. Even if he never rode in a 1938 Packard as a kid, driving one on Sundays brings on a sense of nostalgia. And I can totally empathize.

When I moved into my current apartment about seven years ago the main attraction was the basement. It was secure, offered space for bike parking and maintenance, and it was cool and dry enough for long-term storage. This was evidenced by the two antique bicycles that the landlord’s parents had left down there.

The Columbia was a joke, a promotional bike emblazoned with Pepsi logos, the frame alone must have weighed 14 pounds. But the other bike beckoned from beneath a coat of dust. The dark brown 1974 Raleigh Sports women’s model looked to be in impressive shape. So I pumped up the tires and took it out for a ride around the block. Low and behold, it worked like a charm. I won’t say it rode like a dream, but the three-speed Sturmey Archer hub shifted just fine and the well-worn Brooks saddle felt remarkably good (though it did eventually tear from dry rot).

Unlike the old man with the Packard, I haven’t lavished hours of restoration efforts on the Raleigh. I’ve lubed the chain, kept air in the tires and added a basket, new saddle, hub shiners and a cool set of self-powered LED lights. But I use it in much the same way, for spins around the neighborhood, or trips to the corner store. I never rode one as a kid (I was born in 1975) but when I go clanking down the road, sitting bolt upright with a grin on my face, I’m sure I’m getting the same sensation that countless old men experience on their own respective Sunday drives.