Thursday, 24 May 2012

“Twenty years old? £150.00? Ridiculous – Unless of course it’s a Dawes Galaxy.”

When Tim Beasley first suggested that we do the Palace to Palace West Midlands ride for charity on May 20th 2012, I faced a significant problem. No bike!

Actually, that’s not quite true. As a family we probably own, what, ten bikes? OK, I’m including three or four old “Halfords” that the kids, now adult-sized, have grown out of. We have an additional couple of boneshakers of one type or another, mostly dating from the bizarre fashion of the 90s to persuade absolutely everbody to buy an “off-roader” with huge knobbly tyres, completely useless for a pedal down to the breadshop or post office.

But what’s this quietly sleeping at the back of  the garage? Oh yes, my 1978 Dawes Galaxy tourer.

To be honest I don’t know where I got “1978” from. About fifteen years ago a friend offered me his old bike for £150.00. Bit steep, I thought, particularly as he said that he’d had it for about twenty years. I mentioned this to a knowledgeable friend who said “Twenty years old? £150.00? Ridiculous – unless of course it’s a Dawes Galaxy.”

So I bought it. Somewhere in the negotiations “1978” was mentioned and the year stuck in my mind although I guess it could be out by a few years either way.

Regrettably I have no contemporaneous photos, but it looked pretty much like this:-

Except it had mudguards. And a Dawes pump that neatly nestled in the frame but didn’t work.

I rode it for a few years back in the 90s – sometimes with a child seat on the back! – never more than ten miles at a time. Eventually I got a much more practical Dawes Explorer for this and that (ie pulling a “Mongoose” towalong at Center Parcs) and the Galaxy just sat there, waiting for a bit of love and attention.

Back to 2012. I am lucky enough to have a good old-fashioned bicycle shop in my home town – Ashby-de-la-Zouch. Its run by a silver-haired gent of the old school. At most bike shops, you turn up looking for this widget or that grommet and the Saturday assistant directs you to a rack of neat sellophane packets, each containing one item and marked £2.99. Not here! – It’s the sort of place where the owner rummages in a tray under the counter and says – “Here’s one I took off a Raleigh yesterday”.

So I took the bike in and he looked it up and down. “Can you turn this into something on which somebody like me could do 45 miles?” He then looked me  up and down as if that might be the real problem on the 45 miles issue.

I set a budget of £200 (it stretched to £220.00) to make things right. More than that would have been uneconomical, a big chunk out of the costs of a new racer. The problem ( I knew this already) was that it was a tad too small for me. So it was new tyres, new, higher, wider handlebars, a new seat and lots more.

After that it looked like this:-

Unfortunately the elegant sweep of the handlebars had got lost a bit in the surgery, but it was the only way to get them higher and further forward. The vicar’s wife’s seat was a necessity because of the more upright riding position.

Anyway, now I had a bike. The next thing to do was see what it felt like to ride it for 45 miles....

by Colin Martyr

Part 2 ... tomorrow...

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