I learnt to ride quite late.
There were no bicycles in the household and I was probably about 11 when the 24″ wheel bike in the second part of the video was owned by a friend and she taught me. The process was to go to the local park, find a grass-covered hill, put me on the bike, set me going holding onto the saddle then letting go when I was going too fast for her to keep up. Turning was a bit tricky but not impossible. Back up the hill, down again and it was “give me my bike back!” and I walked home, dreaming.
Going to secondary school at age 12 the school was a few miles away. The parents bought me my own Raleigh 26″ wheel single speed job so I could get there and do a paper round.
The first part of the video was shot after a week or two of bike ownership. I am the one with the straight handlebars. Charlie is the one with the same model bike but to which he had already fitted drops. The guy running is my bike-less brother.
Eventually Mike was presented with the 24″ training bike after he whinged ‘cos he didn’t have one!
I was allowed to ride around the Estate but go no further. Once we were away from parental eyes though we could go anywhere. It was all OK as long as we were back for Lunch / Tea and not spotted by family friends or nosey neighbours. After a few weeks Mum and Dad gave up and the country lanes of Kent became my playground.
For the short video Click Here
This video was taken on an 8mm film movie camera. It was part of a larger reel of 8mm tape that was much later transferred to VHS tape. Later again it made it to digital Mp4 format. We didn’t have a still camera so there are no grainy black and whites. The place is St Mary Cray situated some 12 miles south of central London. The year is probably 1958 or 59. The housing estate was built just shy of the Green Belt surrounding London and housed people moving from the post war PreFabs to more substantial housing. The Estate was the jumping off point for home purchase as things picked up after the war.
I returned there some 15 years ago and found the houses basically unchanged but the streets were now full of cars. The houses had been sold by the Council but the owners were fighting to keep the riffraff away from their possessions – I was warned later it is quite a dangerous area to walk around!! In the days of the video it was a safe as houses. Times change.