MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"  

INTERNATIONAL INTRO

INTERNATIONAL FIND

INTERNATIONAL BUILD

 

BICYCLES OF ENGLAND

 

 

 

 

 

FINDING THE RALEIGH INTERNATIONAL

There are probably a great many more ways to find a vintage bicycle than those contained in these pages.  However, there is one method that works really well even though it seems silly to even mention it.  Looking!  Just keep your eyes open and you might well be surprised at what you see.

I had recently acquired an old CCM Mixte during my travels.  Though the bicycle was of little interest to me as a keeper or even for resale purposes, it was Canadian made and I wanted to have a set of pictures of the bicycle for MY "TEN SPEEDS".  With that in mind, I asked my friend to set it aside for me for picture taking purposes.  He did just that but, as it turned out, my schedule filled completely up and it was several weeks before I got around to going to get the bike.  And, once again, I failed to pick up the CCM but for a very good reason...

When employed as a Millwright at a local Paper Mill, I would ride past a scrap anything collector's yard going to and coming from work.  I always cast an eye in that direction as I passed by, from time to time spotting an old Ten Speed or two.  When such situations surfaced, I would stop and inquire about the bicycle.  I did this several times over the years and not once did anything find its way from there into The Old Shed.  But that all changed the day I was on my way to pick up the entry level CCM at my friend's house.

While driving in the Ranger and several years after retiring, I passed by the junk yard and, as was my habit for nearly twenty years, glanced at the jumble of stuff hiding behind a veil of leafless bushes.  Had I passed by a week later, the leaves would have blocked my view.  At any rate, as I passed by I caught a glimpse of an old road bike leaning up against a bunch of stuff.  Not necessarily an unusual occurrence once one's Looking skills become practiced, but this glimpse was a bit unusual.  The color of the bicycle caught my eye and nothing more.  Nothing seemed special at the time.  Besides, I was in a hurry to get the CCM pick-up out of the way.  I turned the corner onto Gore St. and continued on my way.

But the picture of that champagne color remained etched in my mind and I had to turn around for a better look.  Even when I went back and did my best to see through the bushes, I could not determine much more about the bike.  Though it was only about ten in the morning, I decided to chance it and knocked on the door.  I knocked again and began to think that no one was home.  With that in mind, I started to write a note and, while doing so, allowed myself an over the chain link fence peek at the bicycle hiding on the other side.  I could not believe what I was seeing and felt sure that closer inspection would reveal that the bike inside the fenced off yard was not really a Raleigh "International".

Just as I started to write the note, the back door opened, presenting a fellow who was in the process of pulling the last suspender strap over his shoulder.  Calling me by name, he welcomed me and asked what I wanted.  I recognized the fellow immediately as one of the people who often times donated old bicycle to Bicycles for Humanity (B4H), an organization that I volunteer much of my free time to.

Anyway, Bill the now fully dressed guy, told me that I was welcome to the bicycle free of charge.  I was quick to thank him for the offer but went on to say that I was not there on behalf of B4H.  I added that I was interested in purchasing the bicycle for myself.  Bill said no way, repeating that I could have the bike and he proceeded to the pad locked gate to retrieve the bicycle for me.

Bill and I passed through the gate and, as I crossed the remaining fifty feet to the bicycle, my hopes blossomed into joy.  The bicycle was, indeed, a Raleigh International and it was in great condition.  As nearly as I could tell it was absolutely original with one glaring exception.  Someone had removed the original Brooks Professional saddle.  Other than that, the bicycle appeared to have never suffered from the back yard mechanic's regime of maintenance horror.  The bike was, however, covered in a light layer of grime and it appeared that the chrome plated surfaces had suffered.  Perhaps beyond a repairable limit.  But I have seen chrome plating clean up really well.

Other features presented themselves, as I passed my eye over the old English steed.  The cranks, transmission, seat post, wheel hubs, bottom bracket and head set were all Campagnolo Nouvo Record and everything was in near pristine condition, needing little more than a good cleaning and waxing.  The brakes were Weinmann issue and even the hoods, Carlton by name, were in great shape.  A bit of dish soap and scrubbing would no doubt make them appear almost a good as new.

Several times I offered Bill some money for the bicycle, producing a hundred dollars at the onset of our take the bicycle negotiations.  Bill steadfastly refused to accept any payment for the Raleigh.  Finally, I stuffed twenty dollars into his shirt pocket and asked him to at least have a bite of lunch on me.  In a display of fake displeasure, Bill grudgingly accepted the twenty but told me that I would have to take the old Peugeot he had sitting further back on his property.  OK with me!

I never did get to picking up the CCM that day.

NEXT - THE RALEIGH INTERNATIONAL BUILD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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