|The Raleigh Grand Prix, after our son removed toe clips, fender, and rack.|
My husband brought this vintage Raleigh Grand Prix back to life several years ago, acquiring the bike from his sister. He stripped the bike to the frame then added parts from his old Peugeot, which included nice Wolber wheels, old ESGE fenders, and a svelte English steel rack (one I've coveted ever since).
But first, he insisted the Raleigh's metal toe clips had to go - a wise choice, no need for complications on an unfamiliar bicycle - and our boy proudly removed tiny screws that held the clips in place. But then there was the old niggling problem that neither my husband nor I could figure out - how to keep the rear brake from locking up. However, our son took one look at it and tightened the long bolt that attaches the brakes to the frame - a simple fix indeed! He also removed the wobbly rear fender (it was missing an integral bracket) before he was satisfied.
For the better part of a week, our son rode the Raleigh with two friends 8 miles round-trip to his bike mechanics program. He marveled how fast the bike was, compared to his mountain bike, and his buddy wanted to know how to acquire an old ten speed of his own.
One afternoon our son came home, his knee and elbow a bloody mess. His wounds were cleaned by the time my husband and I arrived around 6 pm. - hours after our teenager had returned from his program. It took a while before he recounted his accident - not because he was distressed - he's clearly a rugged individual and he knows bike wounds come with the territory, but rather he eventually felt like recounting the incident.
"So I was riding to Hunt's when I tried to shift, the chain got stuck, the bike locked up, and I went over the handlebars."
I know the Raleigh requires finesse, with its down tube friction shifting, much like my Miyata. I also know my son, who is often careless, and was probably rushing to get to class on time. The two are recipes for potential problems, as we've experienced with this child in the past. So I asked, what'd you do?
"Well, we had to get the chain unstuck, then when I got there the teacher helped me to fix the handlebars."
I wondered who'd cleaned him up. So I asked, did you show the teacher your knee and elbow?
Kids heal amazingly fast, as it turns out. A day later he'd forgotten about the incident.
The Raleigh, however, has more scratches, the bar tape is shredded, coming loose, and there's a new tear in the seat. Our son has since removed the beautiful steel rear rack.(sorry, no photos with rack)
Two weeks later the novelty of riding a zippy ten speed has worn off, especially now that his mountain bike sports a new derailleur. He's back to his regular antics: flying off jumps in the backyard, barreling downhill on our neighborhood street to go airborne off homemade plywood ramps, plus the additional twist, typical of today's teens: recording these boyhood feats on video and sharing the results with his friends.
We can take away one good experience from the week. Our son has confidence and new skills to begin fixing his own bicycles. Hallelujah.