Yes spring has definitely sprung. The milder temperatures have seen home brewed corrosion inhibitor liquefy, belching from both the Univega and tag-along’s bottom bracket shells upon our return from a mid morning saunter through the lanes.
Spring is here and this man’s fancy turns to preparing his road bike from 1991 for a makeover. From a distance, the metallic British Racing Green enamel looks perfectly respectable. Up close and personal it’s a different story- a victim of the “lick and a promise” school of frame finishing. Lick and it will come off! Some will scoff, arguing the world has moved on since 531c, you can buy one of those for £30 on ebay etc, etc. To them I quote Wilde “The Cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”. Framesets and complete bikes are seldom the sum of their parts-emotions, memories, and aspirations all run deep and this one’s no exception.
The summer of 1991 was pivotal to many things, the promise of a University education, myself and my peers were going to change the world, live decadently bohemian lifestyles (Bikes adorning the back bedroom in neat rows, garages playing host to Moto Guzzi and Laverda motorcycles).
Left on house sitting duties while parents and younger siblings went on holidays, ceilings mysteriously fell in without help from unruly house parties and unrequited love bowled us over like skittles. So, it goes without saying the 6am runs were leaden with philosophising- talk of women, Theunisse worship and tractor racing. No, not groups of hooch filled hillbillies charging across the rural landscape. The object of this foolishness was to target a tractor in the distance and wind up sufficient speed to overtake at the last minute- my finest hour being the passing of a Ford at 37mph… Those days are gone and many good people with them but the bike, largely unchanged save for some consumables, remains the embodiment of these infamous times. Arguably quaint by modern standards, it never fails to coax my inner smile.
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)