Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Another Raleigh Arrives to Feed the Bicycle Addiction

Yesterday, I was surprised in the late afternoon by a 70s Raleigh Super Course MK2 that managed to find its way into our garage. Some might say it was the bicycle fairy who brought it, other more logical individuals would say that Sam, after looking through Craigslist ads, annoyed by my constant whining about wanting to try a "road" style bicycle, went out of his way to pick this bad boy up in Louisville and brought it home to surprise me.  And surprise me he did.
Raleigh Super Course MK2, in all its glory
Of course, I had to take it for a little ride last night, even though it was getting dark. Sam, after all, is just feeding my bicycle addiction, and if he's going to be a pusher, by all means, I'm going to try the stuff out. My first impressions were that the bicycle is definitely holding on to some surface rust, and that the paint has not been well taken care of, as can be seen in the pictures.
Raleigh name is becoming invisible as the paint chips away and rust eats at it.
The headbadge is also in need of some rust removal, but no more so than the rest of the bike
I was a bit hesitant to get on and ride, but Sam assured me that it shifted and rode well. Mind you, I really haven't been on a road bicycle since I was about 12 years old, so the thought of attempting this "scary" activity had my mind swirling.  Though I did have to ask Sam to raise the handlebar height, miraculously, I didn't die on my first go of it. This seemed like a feat in itself.

More than anything, I was amused by the old school front light on the Raleigh, that is powered by the bicycle pedaler him/herself.
Raleigh headlight
While it's similar to a dynamo driven hub (like my Pashley's front light), in this case you have the friction of the generator against the front and/or rear wheel. It's also similar to the type of generator that was on my Electra Amsterdam.
Rear generator to power headlight and tail light on the Raleigh
This morning, I thought I should try to ride again, since yesterday I was too afraid to even attempt the friction shifters of this era of bicycle. While the old Schwinn Suburban also had friction shifters, it was a bit different because they were quite close to the handlebars, and I didn't have to lean over to attempt to use them. The Raleigh shifters are below the top tube, making it a little more challenging for me to shift.
Raleigh friction shifters
Fortunately, I was able to shift with them, but I have to admit, this is no easy thing for me. I'm a little hesitant to ride this in any sort of traffic, as I feel as though I'm not comfortable enough with my ability to shift and keep an eye on the road and keep myself from falling to the ground.

As for the ride itself, I was surprised that it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and actually quite pleasant. My neck is a bit strained, partly because if I shift my hands to a lower position, I still feel the need to crane my neck up to see what's coming, but also because I am so used to an upright position of riding, that it makes me tense to ride this style of bicycle, so I'm constantly straining my body. In addition, the bicycle is probably just a tad large for me, so I'm stretched out quite a bit. While I do want to have that stretched feeling so I don't feel as though the cockpit is cramped (as Sam so delicately put it), I also don't want to be strained too far in the other direction.

For now, I think it will be an interesting challenge to see if I can get myself used to the older style and its unique quirks. And, as an added bonus, I can still hold out hope that perhaps it will satiate my desire to obtain a Sam Hillborne frame (though I doubt it).

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