Pleasant surprises

Author: fraise

Saturday 3 July 2010, in Cycling, Journal, La France

I wanna ride too!
The last few weeks, I’ve been busy scraping off the textured paint in my living room to make way for a new color (of regular, non-textured paint). Luckily the textured paint had been put over white paint, which I then had to wash. That last photo may look relatively white, but in reality, it’s quite yellowish — the cleaned walls look much better. This means I won’t have to use primer, which is nice.

About a year ago, Nice started a “city bike” program called Vélo Bleu. I took a 15-euro yearly subscription, which lets you borrow bikes as you want, with the first 30 minutes free on each bike. While it is very cheap, it’s not so practical when, in reality, I’ve only been able to find a bike to use about 10% of the time, plus they’re very heavy and only have 3 speeds. I enjoyed riding them anyway, which helped me realize that I’d be happy with a cheap bike of my own for riding around town. I wouldn’t have to lose any time looking for a Vélo Bleu, and would save the money spent all those times I ended up paying for a bus or tram ticket when a bike couldn’t be found. The downsides are the probability it could be stolen, and having to maintain it myself. But even needing to do maintenance has its upsides: you know what you’re getting into with your own bike.

I didn’t plan on shopping for one until my yearly subscription ran out. I visited one of my favorite secondhand shops today, as I often do because they’re so much fun to browse, then went upstairs to check their used bikes, just in case. I’d seen decent ones in their store over the years, but nothing that ever caught my eye… until today. A charming old Peugeot in orange, with bright green decals, touring handlebars, a chrome rack on the back, front and rear lights, and a mixte (unisex) frame. I could hardly believe my eyes, and figured something must be wrong with it. I spun the wheels to check for wobble: they turned straight and true. I looked at the rims: no divots, cracks, or any other problems. I checked the rear derailleur: a bit gunky, but in fine working condition, which surprised me for a bike its age. The teeth on the chain wheels looked good; the bike pedalled smoothly. I sat on it: surprisingly, the seat was already at the right height for me, and the frame a comfortable fit for head-up city riding, though I would need to turn up the handlebars to level. There was no rust around the bike’s various bolts, which meant adjustments would be feasible. “If the brakes still work, it’s mine,” I thought — not only did the caliper brakes still clamp onto the rims, the pads were in good enough shape that the bike braked without a problem. The only reservations I had were for the shifter and number of speeds: it’s an old lever shifter, and there’s no front derailleur, so the bike’s 5 rear chain wheels meant it only had 5 speeds. “It is just for riding around town, and 5 speeds are still better than 3, plus this is a lot lighter than the city bikes,” I pondered. Then I bought it. 50 euros, and all I need to replace are the tires and inner tubes.

According to its decal styles and serial number, which starts with Y904, it’s a 1979 touring model. Everything on it but the seat and tires is original. 1979 Peugeot Cyclotourisme set with all the photos I took today. As a kid my brother and I would ride steel-frame Takara road bikes, which also had lever shifters. We often had to finagle their caliper brakes and derailleurs, so having another bike with a lever shifter brings back fond childhood memories. I’ll have to re-learn how to ride with one hand while shifting, and memorize the sweet spots for each of the 5 speeds! It will also be fun to have a mechanically simple bike to work on again. I do love my mountain bike, but with disc brakes, and front and rear suspension, it’s not one I can repair entirely on my own.

5 responses to “Pleasant surprises”

  1. Hammy Says:

    Nice! For some reason, I thought you already had a bike. I remember some posts awhile ago about bike seats. Are you going to use your seat on this one?

  2. fraise Says:

    You are correct, ma’am! :) That was after my mountain bike seat was stolen (along with the sports bag I’d put it in… it wasn’t even on my bike, hrmph). I am keeping around the extra post I got just in case this city bike’s seat gets stolen. That’s also a reason I wanted a cheap bike for city riding… because I’m afraid it, or parts of it, will get stolen eventually. We see bike carcasses all the time here.

  3. Heather W. Says:

    You make the best finds! What a pretty bike, too.

  4. A Taste of Garlic » chroniques d’une fraise Says:

    […] also seems to like cycling (her bike being the 2 wheeled version of that paragon of French perfection – the 2CV) and has […]

  5. Rafael Says:

    Hey looks like the cat wants to ride it.

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