It must have been fate. I usually don't go to run errands with the Dude, but one day last week I decided to go.
Off to Main St, Jackson to the deli again. This time, tho', I'm looking for a vintage bicycle headlamp/light for my 1970 Schwinn Suburban that I plan on keeping for myself. I've already ordered a rear rack, and bought a medium sized, ammo, shoulder bag from the army navy store in P-Ville that I'm going to convert to a saddle bag.
We go across the street to the antique store, but find no light. So, on our way back to the car, I glance into a store that I don't go into very often as they sell imported goods and other 'stuff' that doesn't interest me. I see an old bike leaning against a display counter. But, I keep walking because, really, I already have two other bikes!
Several steps later, I realize, again, that I've lost the Dude. So, I double back and find him in the store looking at the bike. I think, 'oh, crap'. So, I go in, and lo and behold, it is a vintage Raleigh Sports with a Sturmey Archer 3-speed, complete with an amusing vintage child seat (I remember those!), and decaying Brooks saddle.
Now since I started this old bike thing, I've come across some wonderful websites and blogs dedicated to the resurrection and revival of old bikes, many of which are English 3-speeds (Lovely Bike, Old Bike Blog, Sheldon Brown). So, I've been pining to find one, scouring the local craigslists to no avail. I found one, quite far away, for $500, which is out of my budget, and probably overpriced, even for California. As I'd resigned myself to not having one, knowing full well, there must be many languishing away in old barns, I tried not to become impatient.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I found one in a store next to where I often park along the street!
Thankfully, I'd done some research. As we were checking her out, another customer commented, "That's a WWII bike". I quickly said, "No, it's a mid '70's" within ear shot of the merchant. There was so much grease on the rear hub, that we couldn't find the year stamp, so I couldn't pinpoint the the exact year! The merchant wants $100, which in her condition is too much. He also, off handedly remarks that he has had thousands of offers at $50. So, we check her out, but decide that we just aren't up to paying that much.
We leave, and as we are getting close to our car, Dude says, "What the heck, we could offer him $75". So I'm game, and we go back. The guy snaps up the offer, and we load her into the Element, hideous child seat and all! The saddle is beyond repair, but I have a vintage Raleigh!
At home, I start up my research into what year she is. But, unlike Schwinn, records are incomplete. Using a chronology table on a website, I narrow it down to between 1970 and 1972, close enough for "gov'ment" work!
And so the adventure begins!