by Eleanor Brown
It was red. There was a little bit of orange in the colour, but not too much.
Second-hand, and on sale, a big rig for a big gal, reassuringly heavy, a solid commuter bicycle for a middle-aged sort who had not been on a two-wheeler in a while. It’s beautiful.
Almost immediately, the brakes started to give me trouble.
I loved the bike.
Spring, summer and fall, I spent at least an hour on it, daily.
In the winter, the brakes froze. The front wheel was rarely true. It had 21 speeds, but I never switched it from the initial setting.
Once, I wiped out on ice rather than hit a car. The bike survived better than I.
Raleigh bicycles used to be high end. Not anymore. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
The company was founded in 1887 in England. Much later, it built a manufacturing plant in my home in the Eastern Townships, in Quebec. One hundred small-town residents had jobs there.
In 2013, those employees assembled 135,000 bicycles.
The plant closed forever soon after.
I started spending more and more money on the bike.
I bought a stationary bicycle, putting the bright-red Raleigh away in winter.
Spring always returns. I pulled the Raleigh out of the garage, pumped up the tires, oiled the chain and buffed the paint.
It rained torrents for days.
Saturday, as the sun peeked out, I excitedly took it out for the season’s first real ride.
I was happy. The itinerary included a diner, second breakfast.
Within a block, I discovered the front wheel was pushing against the brake pad. Even after a half-hour, I couldn’t fix it.
I have a new bicycle.
It’s grey. There’s a little bit of black trim around the edges, but not too much.
I bought it new, and on sale, a big rig for a big gal, reassuringly heavy, a solid commuter bicycle for a middle-aged sort who has not been on a proper two-wheeler in a while. It’s beautiful.
I’m stripping the Raleigh for parts.
Eleanor Brown is a freelance writer living in Sherbrooke, Quebec. She’s a former managing editor of Pink Triangle Press’ flagship publication, Xtra, in Toronto, and the former editor of a daily newspaper, the Sherbrooke Record. She can be reached at ebjourno at gmail.com.