In January my parents saw a used 1972 Raleigh Grand Prix ($90) for sale in the news paper. We drove 6 blocks to see the bicycle, owned by a college student, in my size. I paid $60 and my parents paid $30 to help me buy the bike. It played a big role in giving me freedom and independence - at a time of my life that was really really great (save for losing my father 2 summers later.) My bike was one of the last things my dad got for me - we got it together, and i broke it right away, at home, in 2 minutes, I went down a sewer grating, ruining the rear wheel. My dad took the pretzled wheel to the bike shop early the next day and got it repaired for me as soon as he could ...
Last night, June 21st 2005 at 12:30 am, i unpacked a used 23.5" 1970 "raleigh international" from Ebay. This is very close to the bike that I always wanted. I didn't expect much since I paid a rock bottom price - I had to buy 2 bikes - $230 for two bikes plus $130 in shipping from florida - so the International was probably a rust pile.
I started to get nervous when I cleaned the crud from the crankset and did not find any scratches on it. The crank is a rare and valuable "no date code" crank. The bike couldn't be ridden because the tubular tires were rotted - I needed a new set of wheels. I had a spare set of wheels i could use but the previous owner had set them up for a fixed gear bike and they needed re-dishing, an axle reversal, a new freewheel, and more drive-side spacers.
Anyway when I saw the true condition of the bike on Saturday night i began to freak out with anticipation of riding that bike.
I fixed the rear wheel and mounted Clement Ventoux Cotton tires (like tubulars), pumped them as high as I could, and mounted new front brake pads and holders.
The bike is very fast and silent - like NEW. It gave me that same thrill i got on my first 10-speed ride in january of 1973. I can't explain it. That bike could toast my Schwinn Paramount easily. I guess 33 years is not too long to wait for a bike. In the midnight air last night, I was 11 years old again, on a new maiden voyage...
I climbed the vertical hill in our neighborhood in a 45-24 steep racing gear. This hill is a 11% grade, about 3 blocks long. I've never been able to climb it before. I just sailed over it. I was FLYING ... and I couldn't believe it !!!
- Don Gillies June 21, 2005