The story of the restoration of a 1950s classic bicycle for a Land's End – John O'Groats charity ride in aid of Alzheimer's Society
Weight is the enemy… It would be hard work struggling up steep hills on a heavily-laden bike with 1950s-vintage gearing, so it will be important to take the bare minimum of “stuff”. The best way of avoiding excess weight is to take a bag that’s big enough to hold only the absolute necessities – maps, spare inner tubes and tools, battery charger, change of cycling clothes, wet weather gear, spare shoes, etc. To stay true to the spirit of the enterprise, the luggage should also be “period correct” – in other words, the sort of thing that a 1950s cyclist might have used. My choice is a saddlebag made by Carradice – a company that has been producing cycle luggage in Nelson, Lancashire since the 1930s. As a result of some strategically-dropped hints, Father Christmas has brought me a “Pendle” saddlebag, made by hand from traditional heavy waxed cotton. The label is even signed by the person who made the bag (thanks, Keely!)
It will hold 11 litres of luggage, which should be enough, particularly if I can manage to persuade friends and family to make the occasional mercy mission to bring me fresh clothes when I’m on the road. We’ll see…
The bag attaches to the saddle and seat post and sits on the neat little luggage rack I’ll be using, which I’ve now stripped down to bare metal and will re-paint. Under the old paint and rust, it has turned out to be quite sophisticated – made, I’d guess, by a framebuilder who constructed it nicely from lightweight steel tubing, with joints brazed in bronze.