Today’s golden sunrise gave impetus to my desire for a leisurely ride to work on my 1950 Raleigh Sports Tourist. Since it was a Saturday, the commute would be less stressful, with fewer high speed competitive riders about. In fact, maybe the commute would be…relaxing!
It was a wonderful promise-of-spring day, cool but dry, and very welcome after weeks of bad weather. This Raleigh is one of the first bikes I purchased as I was beginning my bike restoration business. It’s a Raleigh Sports Tourist “C” model, and weighing in at around 45 lbs., it is a bike I reserve for special occasions. Since I live in a hilly neighborhood, riding this bike requires a certain mental preparation before I am ready to conquer the steep inclines awaiting me. Fortunately, even though the bike is geared very high (I have left it all original and haven’t changed the gearing – what’s good enough for the Brits is good enough for me), I was able to make it up my hills without walking the bike, and I was rewarded with wonderful descents, especially enjoyable because of the bike’s long wheelbase and amazing ability to absorb road shock.
The Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub, combined with the 46 tooth chainring, has a gear inch range of 42 – 75. The AW 3 speed hub is still going strong. In fact, I did nothing to restore it but add a few drops of oil to the oil port and a bit of lubrication to the spindle. I did have to adjust the cable tension until I finally hit the sweet spot, where the shifting is just right, and there is no unpleasant and scary “free wheeling” in the middle (neutral) gear.
If Julie Andrews is happy, then so am I! Riding this bike today restored my faith in Portland drivers. I was politely waved through 4 way stops, and given the right of way at intersections, all with a happy (and proper?) wave and nod. I can assure you, this never happens when I am riding my more performance oriented bicycles.
With this pleasant riding experience and fantastic work-out from pushing up the hills, I am feeling like the Brits know something that we don’t – that it is not always necessary to get where you are going in the fastest way possible. Instead, get on your 3 speed and relax…