I was coming home at the end of a 100-mile ride today. Familiar roads in town, no more than a few miles from home. I was mainly planning my tea and what I’d need to buy from the shop.
Weirdly, the gears were slipping – moving down the block into a higher gear as I rode along, and I was having to hold the downtube shifter (yeah, it’s an old bike – read on) to hold the gear where I wanted.
Now, the exact same thing happened to me in India on this bike. It took me ages to work out the problem, and it turned out to be a broken chainstay, of all things. As I pedalled, the whole rear shifted inwards, and the chain slipped down the block.
Of course, as I was in India, I found a local welder who fixed it for 50 rupees while his dog slept next to him:
Sure enough, even though the issue took longer to manifest in flat ole Darlo than it had in the Shiwaliks, it was the same thing – the weld had finally given out. After some 7,000 miles, I might add, so I’m certainly not complaining that I received poor service for my 50 rupees.
But I’m sad. It had quite a life, that bike.
I bought it as frame and forks for 15 quid. It was a 1980s Peugeot Dakar in 531 steel and flamboyant French colours, which I quite liked, but I wanted to replace the forks and have the horrible U-brakes replaced with super-modern V-brakes. I had it resprayed at great expense and hassle.
I rode it for miles of tours and long distance rides, dreaming of an overseas tour. The seatpin collar broke, and I was tempted to bin it then, but Kev Winter, a local framebuilder, replaced the seat tube and brazed in some downtube shifters, and gave me a tour of the classic frames he was refurbishing at his shop in Ferryhill. He might have been trying to convince me to get a respray as well, and I’m sure he would have done a great job, but I needed my funds for my tour, and finished it off myself with a couple of rattlecans. It looked a bit shit, but with all the kit on it, it looked the business.
Eventually I collected the cash and summoned the courage, and rode it to Nepal, through Turkey, Iran, Dubai, lots of India, and the rest.
Strange coincidence: today I finally noticed the statue of the Marquess of Ripon in the Spa Gardens, who was once Viceroy of India. The town where I had it fixed in Himachal Pradesh was Nahan, which was once the abode of Robert Bulwer-Lytton, also Viceroy of India (and brother of Edward, he of It-was-a-dark-and-stormy-night infamy).
I nearly chucked the bike in a skip in Nahan for the monkeys to play with – I’m pleased that I didn’t. Back home, I had it resprayed in the correct colour for a touring bike (British Racing Green), and it’s been a tourer, a mountain bike and a long distance bike, a cargo bike and a commuter in that time.
Of course, as it’s a steel bike, I could get it fixed, but it feels as though it’s past that point – riding it, I’m always aware that it pulls a bit to the right, the brakes are a bit shit, the threads are mostly knackered, and so on and so on. It’s past the point of being worth repairing and it’s time to put this dog to sleep.
So farewell, Green Peugeot. It’s fitting that your last ride was a proper ride, a 100-miler around the Dales and the Vale of York. But at least I don’t have to clean you now.