Category Archives: vintage bikes

Run, ride, run, ride, birthday, run – OAP or not OAP, that is the question

The Elswick, Dayton, Daccordi and Stablinski

I ran in London on Monday morning – pretty much the usual route to Hammersmith Bridge and then down the Thames Path and back. Breezy but otherwise good running weather and not too crowded.

Running along the Thames is always great but it was particularly enjoyable this time as I’d forgotten that we were staying there on Sunday night and I’d written off the chance of getting in a run.

I tried to see if I could run faster than my usual plod and it seems I can – just over 7km at 5m 09s per km (almost 4.4miles just inside 8m 20s per mile) according to Strava. I guess the Garmin lost its signal at some point and I’ll be very surprised if it was really quite that quick – but Strava must be obeyed (and believed) so I’ll take it.

On Tuesday morning I got out on the bike with the friend I did Ventoux and L’Eroica with – only my 5th proper ride of the year. A very good social spin around the country lanes for 60km (a bit over 37 miles). Perhaps I should have done another 5km to do my age ‘metrically’ (three days early).

Wednesday morning was a run with my son – a gentle 7km (4.3m).

Thursday was my birthday ride: 65 years, 65 miles, 65 year old bike. I’ve posted it separately but the summary is ‘hard but enjoyable’. It was a day early but it’s not the most social sort of thing to do on the day itself. It was very tough using the Elswick, mainly because of the 3 gears and its weight – but it makes me wonder if that might be useful for training purposes when I actually have something to train for.

I guess it’s more of a town bike than a tourer – I wonder if it’s ever been on a ride of that length. Were riders much stronger in the old days – or were the roads much flatter?

I’ve realised that I have the Dayton Hawk in the garage. I built it up for L’Eroica back in 2013 on a 1946 frame. Perhaps I should be celebrating its birthday next year: 75 miles on the 75 year old bike. Undoubtedly it would be easier than 65 miles on the Elswick – cable brakes that work, 5 gears, a proper riding position and a lot lighter.

OAP or no OAP?

I’m trying to work out if I’m now an Old Age Pensioner. The age of 65 was the UK male state pension age for many years but it is being shifted further out in view of increasing longevity. I don’t get mine until next year – am I an OAP before I get the pension?

I’ve decided that the ‘OAP’ status attaches to the receipt of the pension and not the age of 65 so I’m not yet an OAP – I feel younger already.

Someone told me that I’ve been entitled to free prescription medicines since I was 60. The fact that I didn’t know that makes me grateful that I enjoy good health and haven’t needed a prescription medicine for a good deal more than 5 years.

A great tapas birthday lunch on Friday at a local pub by the river and a fine evening meal cooked by my wife and younger son, It doesn’t get much better. Even the chickens had saved up and bought me an egg.

More pointing of new stone walls and mowing on Saturday together with my first haircut since February or March, followed by croquet on the newly mown lawn. I think that counts as a big day for someone of my age.

It’s been some weeks since the willow tree has assaulted me while mowing but it managed to remove my ear defenders this time. I’ve been lulled into a false sense of security and outfoxed (again) by a tree.

I ran with my son on a glorious Sunday morning – just the 7.5km (4.7m).

A very fine week was rounded off by a loss to the West Indies in the cricket. I couldn’t have expected everything to go my way, could I?

Interesting stuff this week

1. African proverb: An elephant never tires of carrying its tusks

2. Barbados PM invites us all to ‘work at home’ there

Having been there on holiday last year, I can think of so many worse places …. if only I still worked

3. ‘Cheese is milk’s leap to immortality’

I’ll go along with that provided it’s not blue cheese

4. Cricket has restarted with a test match between England and the West Indies, played behind closed doors. We batted badly in the first innings, prompting one observation that it was good to see the English batsmen implementing proper social distancing between bat and ball.

Birthday ride – with a twist: 65 years, 65 miles, 65 year old bike

Poor quality picture (hides the rust)

People often ride their age in miles to mark birthdays. I think that a better approach would be to use a formula like: 2(100 – age). At least that would give a decreasing yearly ride and only 2 miles at age 99.

However, I joined in this year (a day early) going with conventional wisdom, but with a slight difference – 65th birthday, 65 miles, 65 year old bike.

The bike is an Elswick (possibly an Elswick Hopper) – the rear hub (original) is dated 1954 but the chap I bought the bike from bought it new in 1955. It comes with the benefit of a fairly comfortable and well-sprung saddle but the more major disadvantages of:

  • rod brakes (which, in the entire history of cycling, never worked very well)
  • just three of Sturmey Archer’s finest gears (quaintly marked L, N and H)
  • a riding position with all the aerodynamics of a brick, and
  • a ‘robust’ 41.2 pounds (18.7kg) that’s 2.6 times my ‘best’ bike.

Based on all of that, I make no apology for having chosen a relatively flat route around the Oxfordshire countryside.

I set off just before 9am feeling that having a Garmin on the bike looked a bit odd – and that wearing a ‘Galibier’ headband was probably even stranger (but I’ve not managed to get my hair cut post-lockdown yet – it is rather long and needs to be controlled). I’ve ridden up Télégraphe and Galibier, but would not fancy them on this bike.

I had a generally meandering route (Clanfield, Lechlade, Carterton, Bampton, Standlake, Pusey, Hatford, Fernham) taking a few deliberate long ways round to clock up the miles. It worked well – the first 20 went quickly and the next 20 fairly happily too. I have great respect for cyclists of 60 years ago considering what they managed with the equipment available to them but the Elswick is no racer and the last 25 miles were seriously hard work – not made easier by a fairly heavy downpour that was not forecast until hours later.

I wonder if, in its 65 years, the bike has ever had a longer ride?

In all, 66.5miles with almost 1500 feet of climbing (107km and 455m). I didn’t stop other than for answering the phone but the 4 hours 40 minutes it took were the hardest I’ve had in the saddle for many a moon.

It’s not a bike I’d want to use to recreate my ‘everest’ or my ride to the alps – but I did find myself wondering if I could get it up Ventoux (but not to recreate the Cinglés – perhaps just once by the Sault route?).

I hadn’t weighed myself for a while but I did before I left for the ride – spookily I clocked in at 65 kilos (65.8 to be precise – 145lbs). I wonder how often a cyclist finds himself riding an ordinary bike that is getting on towards 30% of his own body weight.

I’m happy I did it – but it was tough. Next year? A birthday ride? Probably – but only on the Elswick if I can incorporate lunch at a good pub on the way round. Otherwise, it’s carbon for me.