Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Saddle Sore

The year was 1965. I had just graduated from college and had a job in downtown Richmond. My apartment, The Cave (which I actually acquired days before the dorm closed. Funny now to think how very unconcerned I was about where I would live) was blocks away. The bus schedule was too limiting, walking was a good option, and I did that a lot, but I needed a bike. I had no money. Naturally I had no car.

I really needed a bicycle to get around. But not just any bike would do. it needed to be an English racer like Dad brought me from England (on his bomber, handle bar taken off so it would fit) when I was in high school. It got stolen when I was in college after my family moved to Maryland.

Friend Sam Cotton, nephew of actor Joseph Cotton (Citizen Kane), and so good looking we called him Beautiful Sam, jumped in and offered to get me one for a good price from his dad's bicycle shop in DC. Done. $47 and Liza was mine! She has aged well. She's really too rusty to work any more but I'll never part with her. I love to look at her and fondly recall all of our escapades together. Top shelf in every way she was a Raleigh with a Sturmey Archer gear box. Maybe best of all she had a Brooks saddle, which I stubbornly refused to replace even when it fell apart. A little duct tape and all was well.

Riding my spiffy new folding bike today, I yearned for that Brooks saddle, which I would have put right on my Xootr Swift when I got her (bike awesome, saddle not so much) but it was not an easy transfer, so I bought a new Brooks. It's tooled leather and stunning. And it will be a faithful companion.

But today I was sorely reminded how much work breaking in a new saddle can be.