In a world increasingly preoccupied with throwaway materialistic things; where people are constantly busy earning money to pay for those things, or so their children can have those things;
This is the story of my dreams of travelling the world by bicycle. Because it's there. And because I dont want to die without experiencing the truly important things in life .

A sense of wonder and a sense of adventure.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Romance Is In the Air.

Well, whenever you mention tandems to women their eyes light up and I'm sure they think of summer days cycling in the country with the picnic hamper on the back and their sole mate guiding them on happy adventures.

 Back in our early days together, Adi I'm sure, often decided that I was spending much to much time with my bike and not nearly enough time with her. I could tell when she was a little pissed with me spending time on my bike because she would be all over me,  right when I wanted to concentrate on more serious matters. One particular afternoon I had finally got my new bike frame and all accessories together and all I  needed was a day of uninterrupted cycle build time. No. A woman ignored will not let you rest. I soon learnt that you just have to be firm with them and explain that no one comes between Niel and his Wheel!

In those early days I think that Adi thought that  if her womanly charms weren't sufficient on there own to wean me off bikes then she could do it gradually by suggesting that we get a tandem. To make the trap perfect she ordered an English Bob Jackson frame set comprising multiple Reynolds 531 tubes of the finest Birmingham steel. One of the frame builders at the bike shop I worked at at the time offered to build it for her.That plan feel through when the whole cost of the operation became too prohibitive for her. (After all I was just a possible future hubby in those days). Not to be beaten Adi planted the seed of a tandem in my head and then on our first year anniversary we went to Christchurch where I was led into an old bike shop where a Geoffrey Butler tandem was happily hanging from the rafters.

Adi's eyes misty with romance gazed lovingly up while I happened to focus on a cabinet full of Campag Super Record components twinkling at me from the other side of the shop.

We went out of the shop that day with a brand new 53/42 chain wheel set that I thought would look the part on my Ron Kitching touring bike.

Almost Adi, But No Cigar.
Twenty years later and racked with guilt, that Geoffrey Butler tracked me down. (well not really racked with guilt). I turned up for work one day in the bike shop I was currently working at and who was there to greet me.. you guessed it Geoffrey in a very forlorn looking state. So forlorn that I hardly recognised him. The current owner had bought him on Trade Me and hadnot known  how to fix him when he turned up. The mechanic at the bike shop was looking for an excuse to get him out of the shop so I suggested to the owner that I could take Geoffery off his hands for what he paid for him. The deal was done and home we went.

Adi's eyes lit up and Geoffrey proved to be a good patient. It didn't look like he had been used much and after fitting a number of retro parts and a week of tinkering he was his old self again. Geoffrey, Adi and Niel went on a gaggle or two of 'romantic' outings and then it was back in the garage rafters for him. A place I think most tandems reside for long periods. A bloke can only take so much romance!

I got the hard word yesterday and he's out again getting shined up for another ride in the country.

'Don't Think I'm Getting Too Attached to You Geoffrey'.
Tomorrow I will once again remember why tandem riding sucks. But Adi will be happy and when Adi's happy, I'm happy.

I just hope we once again survive the ride. With old style Mafac brakes and an even older hub brake also manufactured in France ( Atom) the chances of stopping in a hurry are non existent. We will wiggle our way down the driveway and I will try not to think about the fact  that I am cheating on my  beloved Mercian.

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