I have been drawn to write this article through the great number of "push" bicycles, dreadnoughts, gaspiping, etc., which fond parents inflict upon the young hopeful and consequently ruin a would-be cyclist, and in the end force the sad young hopeful to turn to petrol when the first opportunity occurs.
Through being known as "one of them chaps as rides a bike,” many young boys come to confide their secret ideas on bikes and what kind they would like when pa buys one. The last case I had was a glaring example of “Bicycles that should not be bought.” The boy was about 13 years of age, sturdily built but not tall. The bicycle had a 25 inch frame, 28 inch wheels, and a three speed. To make the machine rideable, the ingenious father, who evidently must have been a tackler, had fixed big blocks of wood to the pedals. Even with this assistance the lad had to roll from side to side when pedalling. The gears in the three speed were like the machine, too big to be of any use. To mount the machine the rider had literally to climb on to it, and to dismount he had to swerve to the left and struggle to get his right leg over the frame whilst in motion, a feat which generally resulted in his hitting the ground; with the bicycle on top of him. Fortunately the machine, being an old one, soon gave up the ghost, and the father having profited by experience, bought the boy a new and much more suitable machine. Today he is a keen member of the C.T.C., enjoying the pleasure of the open road, and getting the very. best out of cycling with not the slightest wish for a motor-cycle.
But for every case like I have quoted, there are dozens, who, after their first attempt at cycling, give it up in despair, and in many cases buy a cheap second-hand motor-cycle, the running of which is often beyond their means, to say nothing of the unfortunate position of anyone involved in an accident with them, with no possibility of receiving damages.
But to revert back to the "push bike" It amazes me how many people buy machines, not only for their children, but for themselves, which are totally unfit for their use. If a person was going to buy a suit, he would not gaze into the tailor's shop window and purchase the first one that took his fancy. No! He would go inside, examine it, and then make sure that it was a perfect fit. But let him go to buy a bicycle, and he purchases the first that looks to give him a lot for his money.
To explode another fallacy. The average man or woman imagines that it is essential to have a racing machine to be a member of a club, that is to say, they must ride a bicycles with handlebars like rams horns, scorn the use of a free-wheel or speed-gear and have a saddle like a solidified banana.Let me say here that the average club member does not ride a machine like that.
Many of my readers will know Amos Sugden, better known perhaps as “Old Amos,” the veteran Nelson cyclist, who is a life vice-president of the C T.C., and is still able to attend many of the club runs, although bordering on 80 years of age. His machine is not a racer, but it is a "light weight,” built up to suit his own special requirements, and I feel confident that if you would-be cyclists would only get in touch with keen riders of experience before buying a machine you would not only save yourself a great deal of expense, but place yourself in the way of an enjoyable cycling career.
Here’s a suggestion. Write or call on the local secretary Mrs. Hudson, who will put you in touch with members of experience. By the way did you notice it, a lady secretary? Speaks well for cycling doesn’t it?
- Son of Hud.