Eroica Britannia

We have just got back from spending the weekend at the Eroica Britannia held near Buxton in Derbyshire. The three-day event is a celebration of classic bicycles, pre 1987, and all things retro-cycling.

Tandem preparationWe went up to the event on Friday and as it is only about 1.5 – 2 hour drive from home we were there by mid-morning. We chose not to camp at the festival site as we thought this was rather expensive and so were on a quite site up the road a bit (much cheaper). When we first booked a few months ago my husband said it would be 3 miles to the festival site. As the event approached the 3 became 4 miles but in the eventuality it turned out to be 5+ miles with a couple of steep hills to contend with on the way!

Friday was also Day 7 of our ‘7 Days of Cycling’ challenge so we needed to get a ride in.  We had taken our tandem as well as our classic bikes and used this to pedal down to the festival and back in order to register for the Sunday Classic Bike ride. This proved to be quite a tough ride! The photo shows my husband preparing the tandem. We spent a couple of hours having a quick look round before pedalling back. We just got back before it rained.

It rained off and on all night and much of Saturday morning but cleared by late morning so off we went again on the tandem to enjoy the festival. It was a cool day though I soon warmed up on the hilly route down to the festival site. The steep hills on this route were beginning to worry me that I might not manage the classic ride we had signed up for. There were three to choose from: 100 miles, 60 miles and 30 miles. We had registered for the 30 mile ride but even so I was anticipating continuous steep hill climbs and I’m not over fond of hills. Once we were at the festival there was much to see, stalls with bike bits, whole bikes, craft stalls, best in show competitions for bikes, fancy dress etc. and a fun-fair to name but a few. There were so many bikes around and so much going on that I completely forgot to take any photos, I even missed the penny farthings. We returned to the motorhome in the late afternoon and had no sooner got the tandem on its bike rack when it began to rain again.

At the start of the Classic ride

At the start of the Classic ride

Once more it rained intermittently overnight. We had an early start in the morning as we needed to cycle up hill and down dale yet again to get to the event ready for a 9.30 ride start (the longer routes started even earlier). I was having cold feet and finding the route to the festival really tough! Once we were underway however I found the ride, while not easy, not as tough as I had feared, but it was definitely a challenge. I’m pleased to say I wasn’t the only one by a long way that got off and walked up some of the steeper hills, even some of the men got off and walked before I did. There was also far more of the ride on gravelly tracks than we had expected (we knew there would be some) and this makes for some challenging conditions as the tyres slide away from you over the stones. A fair bit of walking was done on these bits too.

Lunch stop

Lunch stop

Half way round there was an extremely well organised lunch stop, complete with an excellent brass band to entertain us and a free packed lunch with loads of water, beer, iced coffee, fruit drinks or whatever you fancied to choose from to drink. At the finish we were greeted with our names announced over loudspeakers to clapping from the spectators and yet more bottles of water to rehydrate us. We got our ‘Road Books’ stamped up, (having collected stamps at the start and the lunch stop) and were also rewarded with a free beer. As I don’t usually drink beer I gave mine to my son on our return home.

This was a very well organised event with a very friendly atmosphere. We did our good turns along the way by lending an Allen Key to one chap to fix his wobbly saddle and a bicycle pump to another chap who needed to mend a puncture and I’m sure many others did similar good turns. It was not an overly warm day and although most people dressed up in era style clothing the effect was slightly lost due to the need to wrap up warm, but there were some in ‘fancy dress’ or tweeds and brogues and ladies in 1920’s style dresses braving the cool weather. We, of course, still had our taxing 5+ miles back to our motorhome to contend with. The rain had managed to stay away during the ride but once more returned just as we were putting the bikes back on the bike rack. We were cold and tired and welcomed a restful evening with the heater on!

This was the first time we have done this event and we thoroughly enjoyed it although we are not at this stage sure if we will do it again. Even my husband found it quite challenging, having to use his angina ‘puffer’ rather more frequently than usual, but it is great to be able to say we did it. Next weekend we are off again on another cycling adventure. This time to the York Rally, a much less taxing event we understand. I’ll let you know how we get on.

 

Advertisements

Not Another Bike!

Henry Burton BikeYes, I’m afraid so, I have acquired another bike! Unexpectedly I must add.

Regulars will remember that I have written in the past about my bikes and I have one, a French made Motobecane classic Road Racing bicycle (circa 1980) which I call ‘Captain Beaky’ and which was bought so that I could take part in La Pedals de Clip in Spain this year. My husband and daughter both have English-made bikes from the late 1950’s and took part last year as well, but at the time I didn’t have a suitable bike.

I really would have liked to also have English bike but classic English bikes are very expensive, especially in good condition. Finding one in need of refurbishment and therefore not expensive is a matter of luck, especially if you want a small frame. The French one, however, was affordable though a little on the top end of a suitable size for me. We did what we could to make it fit better and it is not bad, in fact it is a very nice bike, but all along I have said that if I came across an affordable English bike with a slightly smaller frame I would get it. So, while not exactly actively searching for one we have been keeping our eyes open.

My husband recently made a visit to our local bicycle recycling charity ‘Back to Bikes’ in Stafford (they take in donated bikes, refurbish them and sell them at affordable prices. If they are not worth refurbishing they strip them for parts and/or scrap them).  He wasn’t looking for a bike but saw this one and brought it home for me. It is in need of complete refurbishment and there is a good chance ‘Back to Bikes’ would have scrapped it.

The bike is a locally made ‘Henry Burton’ bike circa 1960 (could even be slightly earlier). Henry Burton was an ex-cyclist cum frame-builder who built frames in his shop in Stafford, not far from my home, between 1950 and the early 1970’s. However he was apparently notoriously bad at keeping records and didn’t bother with frame numbers so we can’t be absolutely sure of the age. All we really have to go on is the style of the frame and its other parts plus the style of the ‘decals’. The shop in Stafford is now run by Henry Burton’s son and no longer builds frames although they do still sell Henry Burton bikes – built elsewhere and labelled as Henry Burton. My husband took the frame into the shop and Burton’s son has confirmed this is an original hand-made Henry Burton frame – see front decal below:

Front Decal

Our other aid to ageing the bike is the style of the script on the down tube, which is just about readable. Apparently Henry Burton had stopped using this style of script, opting for a more modern upright ‘print’ style by the mid-1960’s:

Down Tube Script Decal

This bike, which I have decided to call ‘Bertie’, is decidedly smaller framed than ‘Captain Beaky’ and is English through-and-through. At the moment it is totally in pieces and restoration has commenced. We have bought some new (old stock) wheels of the correct era ready to replace the not-so-good old ones, plus new tyres. A dent in the top tube has been repaired and the frame is in the process of being rubbed down ready for re-spray. We have found some replacement old style decals to be stuck on once the repaint job is done and the aim is that I will use this bike for La Pedals de Clip next year. If our youngest son decides to come along too then he can ride ‘Captain Beaky’, with some adjustment back to its original state in order to fit him. Watch this space.

Bikes

I haven’t written anything about cycling for a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t done any. I must confess I am a bit of a fair weather cyclist though and lately it has been too cold, dank and miserable for me to go out much. Our rides have been fairly short, about 10 miles at most, sticking to main roads at quieter times (the lanes are just too mucky). Last time we went out I was wearing pretty well two of everything – including leggings! I have to say two pairs of gloves does tend to make gear changing a tad difficult.

One thing I have noticed recently while thinking about more than actually riding is the number of bikes that we own between us. I have written before about mine, and shared pictures on this blog (no new ones today, sorry, but I am trying to get this post scheduled quickly as I shall be away for the weekend and back too late to post for Monday – ie today if you are reading it). I have, as you know, Captain Beaky (my Motobecane classic road racing bike), a clunky old Raleigh mountain bike and my more recently acquired Fifi (my Forme Longcliffe road bike) as a winter bike.

In addition I now have my son’s girlfriend’s lovely Raleigh Capri One road bike on loan. She has borrowed a mountain bike from him, hasn’t room to store both so we are storing it for her with her permission for me to try it out. It’s a super bike, fits me better than Fifi, being a slightly smaller frame, and I am going to be reluctant to give it back!

Now to my husband: he has his classic road racing bike – a Freddy Grub, for those in the know, dating back to the late 50’s/early 60’s and also a clunky old Raleigh mountain bike of the same era as mine. Recently he fished out an old classic road-race type frame that was in our barn (having been rescued many years ago from a ditch) and discovered it to be a Claude Butler of similar age to the Grubb. So he has now restored it and has ridden it a few times,  however the frame is a bit big for him, though it fits our son quite well. He has also since bought another Raleigh mountain-bike, not quite so old and full-suspension this time – a friend was selling it cheap and he can’t resist a bargain!

So I have three, plus one on loan, and he has four. On top of that, as you know, we also have a tandem. Then there are a couple of folding bikes on board our yacht, for use in port when we have no other transport. That makes five and a half a piece. Our youngest son who lives at home also has several bikes (I haven’t dared count them), mostly mountain bikes, plus several more in various stages of renovation including at least one road bike.

The bad news is that many of these are actually overwintering in our conservatory as they are probably better protected from the cold and damp, with the bonus that they are ready to hand when required. It does mean we can’t use the conservatory, but then it is a bit cold out there right now. At least most of the mountain bikes are down the garden in the shed.

Thinking about owning all these bikes it does beggar the question – why do we need so many? Well, you know the answer to that already, we have discussed it before (read about it here) – you need N+1, where N is the number you already have.

Site content copyright of Elizabeth Leaper (Libby).

Supporting the Printed Word

Read the Printed Word!