20 October 2002

Ullswater: My Green Bike.

Before I was 11 I was sent to a better school in Penrith, Barton School had a very poor record. The bus from Pooley Bridge to Penrith left early and arrived back late, so to shorten my day a bike was bought for me to get to and from the bus.
My parents took me into Penrith to the bike shop which sold new and second-hand bikes. My parents were not at all rich so a second-hand bike was the order of the day. The owner of the shop who also repaired bikes recommended an old non-descript re-painted green bike with half dropped handle bars similar to dropped handle bars used on racing bikes, with chipped chrome and said it was sturdy, not too heavy and had been well looked after. Dad looked the bike over, pronounced it suitable and said yes we would take it. Dad also bought a dynamo set which worked by friction on the back tyre so I could see on my way home from the bus in the winter darkness which fell before 5 o' clock.
I loved that old green bike, without it I was restricted to a maximum of about 3 miles and now a whole new world was opened up to me. The bike took me back and forwards to the bus, it took me all over the countryside, it even took me to Penrith. That old green bike took me fishing, to spots I’d never been before and places I'd never camped before. It was my pride and joy.
That was until Peter Embley got a bike, the bike was a shiny new red one with full drop handle bars and the makers name stencilled on the down cross-bar. It had a frictionless wheel hub dynamo, not driven on the tyre like mine causing friction. And best of all it was 3 speed, mine wasn't. I was secretly envious and wished it was mine. But the shiny one was always breaking down and the chain would come off and the brakes always needed adjusting. My old green bike just kept sailing along, no trouble at all and my envy was mollified somewhat. No, my envy didn’t cause Peter and me to fight, we were good friends, I helped him with his bike problems and so did my Dad. Peter's father was always away at sea.

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