It is a truth universally acknowledged that a cyclist in possession of a good bike must be in want of another.
The Melbourne weather has been heating up this week so my summer dresses are getting dusted off and my desire to add a step-through to the collection of bikes in my hallway has been growing. Writing the Christmas wish list was the final straw – I had to do it, I had to buy a mixte.
I’m a sucker for punishment and totally skint, so going second hand and committing to refurbishing something old was really my only option. I found this battered royal blue bike on Gumtree for $40. Her stickers say “Master Sports”, who stopped making bikes in their own name in the 50s or 60s, but Repco took over the brand and continued to sell them into the 80s.
The lady I bought the bike off got her from the CERES Bike Shed. She had planned to fix her up but never got around to it, which I hope won’t be Prudence’s fate in my hands!
Which, I guess, is why I named her. All beloved vehicles need a name – when we name them it helps us to recognise our responsibilities towards them as owners. Maybe it is a hangover from the days when all people were dependent on beasts, who were in turn dependent on us, and who were able to respond to a name they recognised as their own. Sure, Prudence won’t need daily feeding and watering, and she will never come when I call, but she will need shelter from the elements and ongoing care. Not to mention the initial task of getting her rolling.
Why Prudence? It’s not a common name and I have certainly never met a bike that carried it, but after writing that post yesterday (Why Your Bike is the Best [featuring The Beatles]) I couldn’t stop thinking about the name’s perfection for this enterprise. The lyrics to The Beatles’ Dear Prudence reflect almost exactly how I feel about cycling. In addition, I hope that in rebuilding Prudence I am demonstrating some goodness of judgement (rather than a passing whim) and her name will serve as a constant reminder of that.
My Prudence has clearly never been a fancy lady, her Sugino and Suntour components reflect her very bourgeois origins. She is missing her front brake, her fenders are a lost cause and I can tell she is going to keep me very busy with steel wool and WD40. But the little details on her frame have me charmed, her form is elegant. In my mind I am already seeing her dressed up in polished chrome and leather, with a basket on the back and Crane bell on the front.
I plan to get her sandblasted and repainted, but I am at a loss as to which colour she should be. Initially she was to be a pale mint green, then I decided that everybody likes red and she should be red, but now the royal blue is growing on me. Perhaps after she has lived with me a week or two I will have a better idea.
For now, my first task is to grab a Phillips head screwdriver and start pulling components off her. I am used to working on new bikes, where everything attaches using Allen keys, so I don’t even have a Phillips head in the house – I am sure this isn’t the first time that something about Prudence will shatter my confidence that I ‘know’ about bikes. I’ll let you know how it goes.