It was my father in law's, but he's long past going out on the road. I wanted to get back into road biking, so he gave it me. At that piont it was still his. Basically, it was a frame that needed building back up.
But now it's mine.
I wanted to do this partly because this is the year of not buying anything, so I couldn't buy a new one anyway.
But it's more than that.
This is a Raleigh bike. That used to mean something, when they were made in Nottingham,like this one, rather than a factory somewhere abroad. I grew up with Raleigh Strika's and Grifters. I love Raleigh.
My father in law loved cycling, still does. When the Tour De France comes through Yorkshire, he'll be up at 4am to make sure he gets a good spot. He loved this bike and seeing it come to life means something to him.
And if I'm learning anything this year of not buying what I don't need, it's that you can't buy happiness. You get out what you put in. I could have bought a bike, but I wouldn't have loved it like I love this one. Because I've helped build it back up. It's mine in a way a brand new one never would be.
Cycling to me is freedom. So much of it now is about aesthetics and having the right gear. That's not what it is to me. It's something simple and real. Road biking just seems like the purest expression, the level of wind, the breathtaking speed. It's real.
Now it's been a while since I was on a road bike. My legs are killing me, by back isn't used to that crouching position yet, but the sense of velocity, of being out there by yourself...and being able to go so far on your own steam is pretty special.
And doing it on a bike that, in so many ways, feels like 'mine' makes it feel more special. Because we all feel more attached to stuff that has required some effort, things we've had a hand in making. Stuff with history and story.
So when I'm on this bike, I'm not just riding with my father in law, I'm riding with all those craftsmen in Nottingham, I'm riding with the blokes in the little independent shop that helped me restore her, I'm riding with 10 year old self on a Raleigh Strika, a 15 year old me with racket bag on my shoulder, haring through town on my racer,to play tennis, a 20 year old me whistling through the streets to get to lectures or make swim training in time.
In fact, this bike might be 'mine' but you could say it's 'ours'.