Doodles in the margin from an artist living and working in the Scottish Borders.

Monday, 14 March 2011

It's Resurgam All Over Again.

Dawes Warwick.

My Dawes Warwick, all nicely tidied up.

George, about ready to step out in the 2011 colours.

I've probably spent entirely too much time and money on this bike, considering its worth, but 'worth' is a relative term. On the one hand I cocked up quite a lot of the detail work on the respray, but on the other it now looks - from a suitably respectful distance - rather splendid. It's even got lug lining. No, you can't see a close up of that. Stay over there.

It's the most comfortable frame I've had, so while it's not a lost classic British lightweight, I picked it up cheap on eBay, it was made at a time when even the medium quality stuff wasn't being mass produced and welded together in Taiwan, and I've had a lot of fun out of restoring it, not to mention some knuckle-bitingly frustrating moments. So now I hope this Spring will see me back out and pootling around the countryside trying to jettison some of the sloth that has settled around my midsection.

Where we live is great cycling country. As a teenager I used to spend hours cycling with two friends, even on gloomy winter days, we'd ride out bundled up and make a cup of tea on a Trangia. We went on cycling holidays to the Lake District and North Yorkshire, which were the occasions respectively for (still) the furthest I've cycled on one day - 111 miles - and one of the worst hangovers I've ever had, which debilitated me in a tent sweat/dry heaves inferno for a whole day. I still remember camping in a wet tent in the pouring rain in a forest outside of Lockerbie, the overheard awestruck campsite comment that "those boys have been on the road for three days", and the feeling of cycling down the road beside Windermere on the first bright, sunny day for a week, whizzing through the shadowy patterns of leaves. (Twenty years ago! Stone the crows.)

Lancaster was a good place to get out on my bike, too, to try and shake off some of the unemployment rage in the Trough of Bowland and up and down the coast. The West Midlands did for me as a cyclist, though, as there wasn't anywhere I really fancied going, and to get there I would have to run the risk of fast, insane traffic and fast, insane drivers. For a long time I didn't even have a bike, and one I did have I gave to my friend Col as a winter trainer.

Anyway; George is about ready, we're just waiting on a gear cable and a 102mm bottom bracket so that my Campagnolo (I said, Campagnolo - I photographed that side so you could get a good look at it) Chorus chainset will mesh smoothly with the Shimano front derailleur, and we'll be off. Oh, and I need to lower the hole to secure the new rear brakes through, as they don't quite reach the wheel rim, despite being re-drilled once already, and being long-reach. So just a bit of fiddling and that'll be it.

I did actually have one bike during my stay in the Midlands, when I splashed a daft amount of money on a Claud Butler RoubaixTriple:

It was a fairly overcooked decision as it was about six times the bike that I needed, but I'd discovered that a young lady I was interested in was going out with someone so I lashed out at my disgruntlement with the sharp edge of a debit card.

As a machine it was rather glorious. It was razor thin and light and greyhound-eager to go but I felt like an imposter upon it. Had I ever gone out in the rain I would no doubt have noticed how appallingly filthy I got in the absence of mudguards, but it never came to that. I couldn't help but notice how meagre the tyres were and how buttock-cleavingly uncomfortable the saddle was; "I were right about that saddle," essentially, which isn't the correct thought for a man lashed to the helm of a carbon fibre and alloy index-geared road monster. And if I wanted to carry home a bag of potatoes or a piano, where would I lash it? Also there was a big danger I could get into conversations with strangers about 'kit.'

In the end, nice as it was to look at in the cubby under the stairs, I sold it. So I don't have the most expensive bike I ever bought, but I am on the other hand getting married to the young lady, so you know - strikes and gutters.

(Sorry about the unusually insistent captioning, but when you do a Google image search for 'Dawes Warwick' it's my bike that comes up first, and I'm keeping it pimped.)

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