Saturday, October 10, 2009

Freedom Of The Road

Freedom of the road began for me when I was fourteen years old in 1972. Before that, I had a typical kids bike with clunker tires and a heavy frame. We used those to get around the neighborhood. When I was in eighth grade though, my oldest brother, Mike, got a brand new Fuji Finest with tubular tires. He had a white twenty four inch Peugeot U08 that he gave to my brother Tom. Tom then gave me his blue twenty three inch Peugeot U08. It was the typical Euro import of the 1970s. Ten speeds, twenty seven inch tires and drop handlebars. They were all the rage at the time. My buddy Dan Schroepfer had a Gitane and my buddy John Osen had a Batavus. Those bikes were the ones that started Schwinn's downhill slide. Instead of buying heavy Schwinn cruisers, Collegiates and Varsitys, people started buying the much lighter Euro bikes. They had Simplex, Sachs and Mavic components. France, Belgium, Holland and Italy were where all the hot bikes came from. Peugeot and Gitane were French and Batavus a Dutch brand. Well, the three of us did a lot of cruising around on those bikes. We went all over the place and rode for miles at a time. The fun lasted through eighth and ninth grade and on into tenth before we all got our drivers licenses. Fast forward to today, I bought an early 1970s Gitane twenty three inch off a guy for $75. The Gitane, Peugeot and Batavus bikes are going for over $300 on eBay now. I'm not planning on selling this one though unless someone offers me a lot of cash... After I picked up the bike, I started to clean it up and bought a leather saddle from Ambrose at Now Bikes. When I got it home, I took it for a 3 mile ride wearing jeans with a rubberband around my pant leg to keep the grease away. That was exactly the way we rode them back in the day. Check out the picture.

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