Cycling used to be looked down upon by most of the people who are now very keen to cycle themselves. After all cycling used to be the preserve of the workingman, it was a cheap way of getting to work, it saved them time and maybe they felt fitter. Kids had bicycles also but mostly hand me down adult bikes without much in the way of gears and certainly no suspension apart from a couple of springs under the seat. Then in the 60s things changed a bit.
Cars became more affordable making it easier to transport kids and all sorts of stuff and go out for drives and holidays. Kids still cycled and some bikes, like the Raleigh Chopper were interesting from a design point of view but they weren’t good dynamically.
Some chaps in the USA started racing down dirt hills on their bikes, which led them to needing better gears since they had to get up the hills first. They also needed much wider tyres so they had enough grip and the tyres didn’t puncture as easily. They started messing around with various things one of which was to make the weight of the bike much less since pedalling up hill is easier if weight is lower.
It caught on and before we knew it mountain or all terrain biking was born.
I joined the ranks of cycling many years before that, when I was big enough to reach the pedals of an ancient maroon Raleigh ladies bike with no gears and brakes worked with solid metal rods rather than the much better and safer cable operated brakes. Years later, my re-entry in cycling was to buy a mountain bike which had some 15 gears to choose from but it was still pretty heavy. I then moved onto a bike, which I had to tie down to stop it floating away which had 21 very expensive but beautifully engineered gears. I also started wearing cycling shorts and lycra tops in hideously bright colours etc.
I started off doing around 5 miles at a time and then expanded that to 25 or more miles depending on time, light and weather. I was doing more than 120 miles a week just for fun and was certainly fitter for sure. There were lots of hills where I lived which was a bind but at least going downhill was pretty good. On the flat I’d usually manage around 18 mph cruising speed on the mountain bike I had and I’d see around 30 mph on some downhill sections.
I’d learnt the cycling highway code thing and done the cycling proficiency but not got the badge. I wore a helmet sometimes and I timed and recorded all my runs out on my bike in a sort of cycling diary, which I still have. I had a wee computer that I used to measure all sorts of things for each time I went out.
More exciting cycling stuff in part 2!!!