The other morning, after dropping the kids off at school, I walked to a nearby grocery store parking lot to see a man about a bike and half an hour later, rode home on Penelope. Last weekend we made the rounds to several bike shops, not actually for me, Evie was in more desepate need of a bike since the pedals of hers kept falling off and even with the seat on it's highest position it was still a good six inches too small (she ended up with a Trek 220, the same bike Briton has, as an early birthday gift from Nana and Poppa, and can now make it up the hill to our house in a flash instead of having to walk part of the way. Gears! They are miraculous! Thanks Nana and Poppa!) But since we were there I got a chance to try out several Dutch and Step-thru bikes. I was totally sold on the internal hub (Thanks Dee, for the info on that!) and the upright position and the low bar and the style, everything except the price tag. Turns out a $1300 bike is the norm here in BikeCity when it comes to new bikes. And like I said, I get it. A good bike is worth the money. It just wasn't in the cards at the moment for me.
And then I got stuck on hold one afternoon and started puttering on Craigslist. I'd been popping in now and then to see if I could find a Vintage Raleigh Lady Sport since they are pretty darn close to what I've been wanting, but with no luck. Until that day, when Penelope popped up on my screen.
She's not actually a Raleigh. She's an Elite which, according to the bike shop I took her to yesterday, is either a random small European company who made Raleigh/Peugeot like bikes or she was made by Raleigh for a different company. The man I bought her from is supposed to be bringing me her original Antwerp license plate from the late 1970's so somehow she started life in Europe and then emigrated to Portland. So far the only think I know for sure is that the hub is a 1979 Sturmey Archer She has almost all the bells and whistles I was looking for, right down to the bell, and rides like a dream. Now I can shoot up the hill to our house without pumping, feeling like I'm going to die or having to stop to put the chain back on (enclosed chain, btw, BRILLIANT! I love it!). I have to put new brake pads on her and at some point I will probably want to switch the steel rims for alloy ones for better stopping in the rain (ah, the things I've learned about bikes), but other than that, she's good to roll. The kids are particularly fascinated by the magic of dynamo lighting, which I have to admit is pretty cool.
So between Evie's new Trek and Penelope, we are officially a happy bike family. Who's ready for a nice long ride?