The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

New wheels


Photo: My new recycled bike

Photo: My new recycled bike

My first independent mode of transport was a red fairy cycle with cream wheels and a bell. This was my horse, my chariot and even my wings. At five years old I swooped about the park and relished the freedom and excitement of speed for the very first time.

Jalopy is still snoozing in the drive. She has been there for the last eleven months. Her battery is flat and she needs a service. But we’ve decided to let her sleep on until I’m back to work again.

She attracts a lot of attention. Every few days someone drops in wanting to buy her. The last man mentioned stock car racing. I was shocked as I think of Jalopy as an old lady now. She’s a good car and reliable if a bit heavy on the gas – I’d hate to think of her filling her final days as a stock car.  If it comes to it she will fade away surrounded by flowers and frogs.

For months Danny and I have been sharing his company car. This generally works out fine but there are times when he is away for the day and I need wheels. Remove the access to a car and suddenly the need to have one becomes pressing. Recently I’ve been thinking of getting a bicycle and have been on the vague lookout for a second hand one. Greener and cheaper than running a car.

Yesterday, gliding into Newmarket, I spotted two bikes clearly put out for sale. At a glance I could tell that they were big boy’s mountain bikes but as long as my feet could touch the ground, one of them might be perfect for me.  The lady that was selling the bikes said that she wanted £10 for each bike.
“Although the smaller one has flat tyres it’s a really good bike. Much better than the other one, which is ready to ride away now.”

With the help of a generous spirited passer by we loaded the better bike into the boot of D’s car.
“Are you taking it to the dump?” He enquired.
“No way. This is my new set of wheels!”
“Oh. Let’s handle it delicately from now on.”

After close inspection at home D announced that the tyres were worn and a bit flaky. So I sped into Newmarket and invested in a pair of new tyres (combination on and off road), inner tubes and various biking essentials. Including one of those hideous Child of Darth Vader helmets.

I remembered how my brother would mend punctures as a child and his method came flooding back. I stood in the sunshine and replaced the inner tubes and tyres without a hitch. However putting the rear wheel back on a bike with Derailleur gears flummoxed me completely. Thank goodness for the Internet – here I found videos and diagrams and even instructions on how to use the gears properly!

Having not cycled for over 30 years, I suddenly felt a bit quaky giving the bike its test flight. But all went well and we shot along. The Shimano gears are wonderful and hills are a doddle. The ten quid bike is and old Concept mountain bike and must have been a very special Christmas present for one of the lady’s boys. No wonder she recommended it as the better choice.

I’m as excited with this bike as I was all those years ago with the fairy cycle. Freedom, speed and independence. Even though I look like a prat in the helmet, I can’t see myself and I’m in love.

  Leave a reply


  1. steve h

    >>>Jalopy is still snoozing in the drive. She has been there for the last eleven months. Her battery is flat<<

    Sounds like She would love one of these then!

    Hope you`ve been releasing the handbrake regularly! – better still, chock the wheels, leave her in gear, and leave h/brake off!

  2. dantom

    Well done you, my old Mondeo died about 8 weeks ago (cam belt) :o( so the old bike was dusted down but only lasted two weeks as the crankbearings fell out!!!!!!! So for the first time in my life we invested in a new bike for me and have got to say I am loving it leaving at 6.30 in the morning and doing 12 miles in lovely Kent and Sussex countryside (24 miles a day) losing weight and loving nature :o)

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