Today Coventry closed the ring road for cyclists—they should do it more often! We, and probably thousands more, took part in Sky Ride on a beautiful hot summer day. We cycled up from home, riding the Harry Hall and our newly restored 1974 Raleigh Mark II Chopper. It was the first extended outing for the Chopper after a re-spray, re-chroming and various mechanical touch-ups. Nevertheless, it’s essentially the original bike: original banana saddle, gear shift (and super delicate gear shift cover plate), as well as the major parts that more easily survive 40+ years such as frame, fork, wheels and handlebars.
All that beauty and style comes at a cost. The Chopper is made of steel, lots of it. It tips the scale at 40 pounds (18 kg), and the low seat and hi-rise handle bars make it a difficult ride. It’s best ridden by its original target customers, kids under 15!
We rode up and began the circuit. The ride organisers had built in several walk-and-waits on the route, including a tour of Fargo Village, a shopping area off Far Gosford Street that looked genuinely interesting, just not at that moment. We had to dismount and walk our bikes through the area. When we were able to ride, we had to dodge children riding with stabilisers as well as the many people who hadn’t ridden before in such a large crowd. Luckily, it was a mellow group and everyone took care for others. We returned up Gosford Street and turned off for a wait to go through the corridor that accesses Coventry University’s Library, open access computer stations and the Centre for Academic Writing. This was rather too much like work, and again, everyone had to dismount and push their bikes. We got back on and across the newly developed forecourt of the Library and back up the street which we’d just come down.
Finally we turned toward the ring road and the ride opened up. Two wide lanes meant there was space for people who needed to weave and wobble, without risking the lives of other riders, and we got a lovely panorama of the city. On the second circuit we figured out how to bypass the walky bits and just loop the ring road. That made it much better and much more fun.
Kyla and I did two circuits each on the Chopper and two on the Harry Hall, four in total. We stopped at The Earl of Mercia for a well-earned drink in the middle. With the ride around the ring road and the back and forth to our home we clocked up about 18 miles. Not bad for a hot Sunday in August!