Tuesday, June 21, 2005

1977 Raleigh Super Grand Prix

I rode in on my Raleigh this morning and I'm happy to report it ran like a brand new machine. Early this year, Phil and Judy at Pima Bike Shop rebuilt it, and I've used it as my "Monsoon Bike." I bought some ligh-weight German-made fenders for it, which Phil customized for me, and they look quite handsome on the bike. Phil says this particular ride rivials any of the newer glam road bikes in terms of frame, components, and performance.

Back in February, I rode the Raleigh on a 300 K Brevet, because heavy rain was forcasted and my LeMond had some sort of problem. That 300 was rugged and punishing, mes amis! Raining cats and dogs--flat tires--and many mechanical set-backs for Steve, Mike, Rich Combs, Susan France and myself--190 soggy gritty miles of misery.

My Raleigh turned out to be perfect for the brevet, being built as a touring bike--actually even rivaling my LeMond for comfort and performance. The fenders kept me dry--if you can believe it--which kept me warm in some cold wet conditions.

But almost 200 miles of no-stop randonneuring took its toll... Both tires were shot, the wheels were way out of true, and the dirt and sand from the wet road ruined the chain and the brake pads. The bike wouldn't even shift after at the end of the ride.

I'm sad to say that it sat in the garage un-used until today--I didn't have the money to get it fixed for awhile. Phil and Judy had to re-build it once more, and it needed new tires. It was expensive to get things right again.

This bike has a cool story. My father bought it for me back in 1977 when I was still in high school. I wanted a bike instead of a car. I rode it all over Tulsa for hours on end. I dragged it everywhere with me where ever I lived. Sometimes it sat in storage for a few years, then I would get it out and ride if weather permitted, and take it on the road.

Once a Tulsa Cop tried to take it away from me--I was out riding and was in Boulder Park in downtown. I think I was about 17 or 18--just a skinny punk kid. I put my feet in a fountain there at the park to cool off, and out of nowhere this cop comes up and grabs me gives me a bunch of shit. He pushed me down on the ground and threw a ticket at me--for "wading." I gave him a made-up name, and of course he didn't believe me and wanted to take my bike. I don't know how I got out of that, but I tossed the ticket.

There was also this time when I had the bike on a plane (I don't know why, or where I had been or where I was going)and it was in a big plastic bag. I went to pick it up at a loading dock or what ever, and this guy saw me with the claim ticket--and on purpose he threw it off the truck like it was garbage. Just then the guy's supervisor came around the corner, and I said, "That guy just threw my bike off the truck!" The guy was so busted, and the supervisor fired him right there--told him that was the last straw and to get the fuck out. I thought they were going to have a fight--they were yelling at each other, and more employees rushed over to hold them each back. I grabbed the bike and ran.

A few years ago this bike got stolen from the AHSC bike racks. I had class on Main Campus and went out to make the quick trip, only to find the bike missing. It was early in the morning and I called UAPD. Low and Behold if they didn't call me and let me know they had the bike and had arrested the thief. A UAPD detective picked me up at the library and we drove down to 4th Ave and I claimed it as mine. When asked to prove it was in fact my Raleigh Super Grand Prix, I told the officer to look at the faded gold emblem on the frame. "It should say, 'Vendables Bicycles, Tulsa, Okla.' Officer." That was good enough.

Unfortunately for the thief, the police where getting ready for the 4th Ave celebration of the Wildcat Basketball Team winning the Nat'l Championships. There were cops all over the place, and they spotted this guy riding another bike he had just stolen, and pulling my bike beside him. The cops asked him who the big blue bike belonged to (It's a 63cm frame) and the little bastard said "My girlfriend." and the cops said something like, "Your girlfriend must be 6-2 or somethin' fella." I came really close to losing this bike and I was glad the cops just decided to hand it back over instead of keeping it for evidence.

Frankie at Sabino bikes was building my LeMond, but had to stop suddenly cause his wife was having their baby. A few days later I came in to pick it up and I had the Raleigh with me--so Frankie put on a set of clips on the Raleigh for me for free because I waited an extra few days to pick up the LeMond.

Well, this got kind of long--hope I make it home tonight.



Tom T said...

I have the same bike except mine is either a 79 or 80 and the shifters are on the handle bar ends. Many of my bike riding friends think I am in great shape since I can keep up with them on their new expensive bikes, little do they know how great this 30 year old bike is!

Peter said...

Bikes are always special and i always remodel my bike

Anonymous said...

I have a 1977 Raliegh Grand Prix and would like to get new wheels. The local bike shop tells me I cannot get 27inch wheels and must do some type of brake conversion. Any hints on where I could get some 27" wheels to fit my Raliegh.