Mike’s bikes

I recently bought two second-hand books on cycling, and although I rarely cycle, they were both interesting reads. The Escape Artist, by Matt Seaton, is an excellent short book, describing the author’s passion for cycling. Two Wheels, by the same author, is a varied and interesting collection of the author’s short, Guardian articles on biking.

My first bike, at about the age of 12, was a second-hand beast much like the one shown. It was so very old-fashioned that I just had to customise it to reduce the embarrassment of riding the horror!

Firstly I removed the chain guard and replaced the curly handlebars with drop-handlebars. Finally I painted it turquoise! It must have been a sight for sore eyes, but my recollection is that I believed it to be the bee’s knees.

I haven’t really done much cycling as an adult.

In 2007 I hired a bike in Stockholm.

Whilst in New Zealand in 2009, we hired bikes and cycled along a rough path alongside the lake at Wanaka.

In this short video I’m holding my camera with one hand and steering with the other. In hindsight this was probably somewhat reckless.

The Boy’s Companion

I think I was about 12 or 13 when I was given The Boy’s Companion – A Book For Every Boy. My copy disappeared half a century ago but I have managed to get hold of what I think is the same edition from 1962.It’s a book from a bygone age, with chapters on sports and hobbies, but also on motoring (?), shooting, wrestling, putting on a play, bird watching, and metalwork (including how to make a bird-cage!). The four colour plates in the book are titled British Bird’s Eggs, British Birds, British Butterflies, and International Code of Flag Signals!

bootsHowever I was only really interested in the chapters on football and card games. As a kid all I wanted to do was kick a ball around, and between the ages of 9 and 14 this is probably all I did in my spare time.

The extract on the left, taken from the chapter on  ‘association football’ (as the book calls it), shows the type of boots worn at the time. I had a second-hand pair that didn’t have studs and were intended for use indoors and on hard surfaces. I guess my mum got them cheap somewhere and that they were all she could afford. Eventually she was able to buy me a new, sleeker pair – with screw-in studs!