The picture of free, untrammeled womanhood

Continuing on from my last post…

One of the bikes we had that chance to look at was this swift ladies club sports bicycle from 1928

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Unusually it has a flip flop hub, meaning the rear bicycle hub is threaded to accept fixed cogs (fixies) or freewheels. Track bikes are generally fixies and road bikes are normally freewheel.

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It’s a really nice bike, well made and I imagine fast, I love visualising a bike-mad racer girl at time when these things were not common. Lets face it, there is still a lot that needs to be done to even up the scales in professional bike racing.

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When I held reminiscence sessions on dress from the 1950s for my MA I came across a lady who loved to go out cycling with her future husband in the late 1950s and early 1960s around Peterborough, she spoke of having to wear men’s cycling clothes and how people in the small villages she passed were shocked by the fact she was wearing shorts, to ride a bike, on a hot summers day!

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Dress has always been a big issue with women’s cycling. My granddad told me a story of an aunt of his who “ had a very Victorian attitude” and who used to loop a piece of elastic round her foot before pining the other end to her skirt to “ stop boys seeing her stockings”

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Skirts in perturb present unique challenges when cycling, and the skirt guard was designed to counter many of these issues. This ladies bike from 1925 has just such a skirt guard; it is also so perfectly rideable I wanted to stuff it in my pocket for later

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I don’t think I have ever seen anything as textile as these early skirt guards they sit somewhere between, knitting, weaving and welding.

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And then there was a very familiar set of wheels, an earlier (1987?) version of my very own Pashley. My Tube Rider or Pashley fish as I like to call it as the frame is a sort of fish shape, was designed in WW2 to be parachuted into France and quickly put together out of the light components, the modern bikes fall under the heading of beach cruisers, and feel more Venice beach than occupied France. This was my first new grown up bike, my way into cycling as a grown up so it still spells freedom to me.

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For sheer vintage detailing and loving construction you have to admire this Viking from 1961, I can see my 1960s cycling ladie riding round in her shorts on this! Damn I should have worn a coat with bigger pockets!

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The last bike we looked at was this Tera (1982) Charlotte and I knew nothing about this bike and had invented a lovely story about early electric bikes until we were informed that this was the first completely plastic bike, a break through in engineering which was horribly wobbly to ride and so now is one of many cluttering up museums around the world.

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I have to show you a couple of pics of this beautiful early 1960s Viking

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check out these beautiful lugs…

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And then it was time to go over to a new space, a much larger hanger, holding the rest of the cycle collection, which will be the topic of my third and last blog on this trip.

A big thank you to Anna Watson for letting me use the picture at the top of the page, see more of Anna’s pictures on her Flickr page, including more on the The Life of the Bicycle Film project:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/annawatsonprophoto/sets/72157634178589895/

Find out more about the HLF funded Life of the Bicycle project:

http://claphamfilmunit.com/

 

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