F C Parkes goes for a picnic
The Sandown to Newport cycle track has a very pleasant picnic area at the old Merstone station. Every year members of the Wayfarer Cycle Touring Club and their families gather there for a picnic/BBQ and this year there was the added incentive of freshly cooked jacket potatoes on offer. This was the perfect opportunity to take my Parkes Cote d'Or for his first proper ride.
I've been tinkering around with Parkes for a few weeks. The major problem was the headset which wouldn't stay tightened causing the front end to wobble alarmingly on my first test ride. I gave up trying to sort this out myself and took him to local firm 'Re-Cycle-d' who specialise in reconditioning second hand bikes. They fitted a suitable replacement. I suppose he is no longer completely authentic but that is a small price to pay for being rideable. The next problem was the brakes which didn't spring back properly and tended to rub once you actually applied them. I followed the advice on Classic Lightweights to hit the spring opposite the side that rubs with a punch and hammer. I don't have a punch but to my surprise using a knackered screwdriver did produce the desired effect! Unfortunately the rear brake shoes caught on the seat stays. This seemed very odd. Surely they didn't make bikes with such close clearances. Eventually the penny dropped. The shoes on the back brake were slightly longer than those on the front. I swapped them over and problem solved! The rear brake shoes had obviously been replaced at some time – they were attached with metric nuts and were the same length as some new ones I had bought in the hopes of improving the braking. I fitted these to the front and now had a bike that would stop when needed.
Meanwhile I'd been scouring Ebay for some suitable period accessories. I managed to find a NOS 'Britannia Sprint Veloce' pump that was of the appropriate period, and better still, the right length. The connector was for a Woods valve so I also bought a Presta connector from Ebay. A set of spanners and a 'John Bull' puncture kit tin (I added modern contents) completed the repair outfit.
I bought a fork mounted lamp bracket but didn't know what size bolt I would need to attach it. I appealed to the CTC forum for advice and within 20 minutes 531Colin had offered to send me a suitable one! Colin, many thanks! I have an old Ever Ready lamp – the greatest example of how lighting equipment has improved! I remember using the same type in the 1970s and having to pack it with cardboard to get it to work and even then it went out if I went over a bump!
Its only about 6 miles from my house to Merstone station so it seemed the perfect destination for his first ride. I doubt if Parkes has been that far in the last 30 years and he was clearly enjoying himself! At 23" there is no getting away from the fact that he is miles too big for me (his toptube is 3" longer than Roberta's!) and is never going to be comfortable for a long ride. Despite that he does actually ride very well and that alarming looking saddle is surprisingly comfortable. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the brake hoods! I managed the hills better than I expected too considering that the bottom gear is 48/24. I'm slowly getting the hang of changing gear – the art is to start well in advance of any approaching hill! The lamp was a bit of a disaster though, every time I hit a bump it bounced on the bracket so I had to stop and push it back down again. I remember now, I used to have to pack the bracket with cardboard too!
Parkes enjoyed being the centre of attention and socialising with other bikes while I enjoyed a well earned feed. His first proper outing in over 30 years was a great success!