I pedaled into wind that felt more like a boomerang of January than the first wave of summer. Only a block from my apartment, I felt as if a season, an age, had passed. In the corner of my eye, I glimpsed this:
Even at this distance, something told me this wasn't a typical bike parked on a street in my neighborhood. I made a U-turn so I could take a look.
What else could have set off my radar? I hastily snapped this photo, the one above it and another
when the bikes owner showed up. I internally braced myself; he smiled warmly and said "hello."
Noah is from Montreal but now lives a couple of neighborhoods away from me. He bought his 1981 King of Mercia from a woman on the Upper West said who, he said, was offered more money than he paid for the bike. The would-be buyer was a collector; the woman, who'd stopped riding, still appreciated the bike enough that she preferred to sell it to someone who would ride it.
Shortly after buying it, he converted it to a single speed but kept the old components. He set up the original crankset with a single ring but, of course, installed a new pair of wheels and pedals. However, he rides the bike with the really nice Sun Tour Superbe brakes that came with it. And he replaced the original saddle with one that really belongs on that bike: a Brooks B-17.
In the course of our conversation, I might have talked him out of repainting his bike, even to "restore" it to its original look. Actually, I was talking myself out of doing the same to Vera. Truth is, I can't justify spending the money, given my current finances. But Noah said he was "glad to hear" that I'd considered refinishing but thought better of it. "It's really a beautiful bike."
So is his. Refinishing it would only make it look new, or newer. That, I think, is the real beauty of bikes like his.