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PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 6:45 pm 
retrobike rider
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Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2007 7:17 pm
Posts: 1032
Location: North Yorkshire
Yea-we called it 'Tracking' back then; must dig out the pic of my Rory O'Brien with chrome cowhorns.....singlespeed too!! :wink:

Graham-interesting that you got a negative reaction from walkers back in the day; Julie and I mostly had long cheery conversations with walkers along the lines of "You're not taking a bike up there?" And genuine interest in the bikes. We get far more negativity now that Mountainbikes are more prevalent :roll:


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PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 7:41 pm 
retrobike rider
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Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:25 pm
Posts: 924
Location: Near Wendover Bucks
The negative reaction you refer to wasn't an anecdote from me, but a quote from another rider.

My experience was of welcoming and curious walkers. As you say, sometimes they were concerned about you getting stuck or falling off. Some land owners however, were not happy to see bicycles being ridden on their rights of way.


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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 9:22 pm 
MacRetro rider
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Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2008 10:39 pm
Posts: 170
Location: SE Scotland
Yep, 'tracking' was what we called it.
Avon 'Skidway Gripsters' 26" X 1 3/8" were the only knobbly tyres you could get in the UK.
Cowhorn handlebars, which flexed as you rode.
Single speed, or Sturmey Archer 3speed. If you you were lucky, like me, and retrieved a bike from a ditch (quite common source of spare parts) with a four-speed, that went on the tracking bike.
I couldn't wait to get a motor bike, and the bicycle was a substitute. And once I got my motorbike, I really enjoyed riding it.
However, after a few years I preferred to explore the idea of a more capable off-road bicycle.
That idea developed into the Cleland Aventura, and it is still developing; new frame design soon ~ just tweeking a few bits around the bottom bracket...


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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 12:27 pm 
retrobike rider
retrobike rider

Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2007 7:17 pm
Posts: 1032
Location: North Yorkshire
Yay Geoff, did you have the Dyno hub wired up too?

I have a Sturmey 4 hanging in the shed, I might see what I can sort with my old Rudge :D

I was a bit limited with tyres on my Rory O'Brien as it was 27x1 1/4" so had to put up with bald Michelins-all I could afford on my pocket money.

My Uncle and I used to build bikes from the dumped bits in the brook at the back of his house-rarely any tyres though :lol:


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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 3:36 pm 
MacRetro rider
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Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2008 10:39 pm
Posts: 170
Location: SE Scotland
No, I didn't wire up the dynohub (unlike my modern Aventura).
I took all the guts out when I built the new wheels, (stainless rims and spokes) and wondered if I could fit a brake plate instead. I tried this, but it didn't work very well because the inner surface was not right.
Even way back then (early 60s) I wanted a small frame to get high ground clearance and less handlebar reach. So I used a frame for 24" wheels, and added a pair of forks from a 27" wheeled bike. Then fitted the 26" wheels I'd built. But I had no clue about frame geometry (I'm not sure I have much more, now). I also thought it was a good idea to have the saddle low; it must have taken me some time to figure out that it had to be high ~ I remember really worrying that it would get in the way, then I took the plunge and raised it.
While still at school, all bits were retrieved from dumped machines.
It was some years later that I was, after lots of hassling, able buy some brand new Sturmey Hub Brakes, I was working by then, had cash and hadn't 'grown out of it'!!!


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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 8:34 pm 
retrobike rider
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Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2007 7:17 pm
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Location: North Yorkshire
I did'nt have much choice on saddle height with the Rory-It was too big for me and the seatpin was only 4" long, many a time the nuts and trouser crotch suffered :roll:


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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 9:52 pm 
MacRetro rider
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Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2008 10:39 pm
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Location: SE Scotland
Yep ~ a 4" seatpin was standard, but you could get radical and fit a 6" one... wow.
I must have found something a bit longer, probably plain tubing.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 9:54 pm 
retrobike rider
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Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:25 pm
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Location: Near Wendover Bucks
Riding on purpose built and maintained, mud free trails, at the Old World Mountain Bike Championships, started me to thinking about how much riding habits have changed over the years.

For the 1950s RoughStuff fellowship the idea was to use their everyday bicycles to escape from the city or town and venture deep into the countryside. Enjoying riding off-road had nothing to do with RoughStuffing and it didn't even matter if you rode off-road at all. Walking was just as good and especially practical when the terrain got challenging. So the off-road capabilities of the bike were unimportant to the extent that technical articles were banned from the monthly RoughStuff Journal. Which instead, mostly consisted of riders accounts of their journeys.

About 1979 Geoff Apps joins the RSF and brings with him an entirely different approach to touring off-road. The notion that riding over rough terrain was fun and to be delighted in. In fact Apps brought the tradition from trials the motorbike scene where getting off and walking or even dabbing with the foot meant that the terrain had defeated you. Apps became the leader of a Home Counties section of the RSF and set about remodelling the rides so that by the time I joined these rides in the spring of 1984, the transition was complete. There was an eclectic mix of rough-stuff bikes, touring and cyclo-cross bikes and Clelands. Apps would actively seek out the tricky sections and those who could not cope would walk with or carry their bikes whilst the Clelands rode in circles waiting for the backmarkers to catch up. No one was excluded though pushing a bike through thickets, through mud and up steep hills is not what I would call fun. I was not yet in the Cleland camp but was one of the first mountain bikers to join in on my F.W. Evans ATB, albeit fitted with drop handlebars.

The general theme was that Apps led the ride from the front and every one tried their best to follow him wherever he went. No mean feat as he was an expert trials motorbike rider, riding on a bike specifically designed for the local conditions. I recall innocently following him through a gap in a hedge only to find myself heading over an almost vertical drop-off that I later found out was known as the wall of death. He would use his Cleland’s bash plate to ride over 16” logs and the low pressure Nokia tyres to plough through thick mud that would clog up the Evans and render its brakes useless. Worst of all was the autumn leaves that would combine with the clay to gum up the Evans’ freewheel until the chain would no longer engage with the cogs. The rides relied on Apps local knowledge as there were no trails to follow and some of the bridle paths were impassable with a deep green algae coated mud, which never dried out even in the summer. Both walkers and horse riders were surprised or amused by this misplaced group of cyclists. It was difficult to lose the ride even if you fell considerably behind, because its tyre tracks, were the only ones around. I once missed the start of the ride but the forest was so muddy that I was able to follow the Cleland’ tracks all the way to the correct pub to meet up for the lunch stop.

The modern day concept of a way marked, purpose built trail did not exist and local knowledge or map reading skills were essential. Even then you could guarantee that a trail shown on the map was ride able or even passable. I sometimes had to turn back and retrace several miles as the trail proved impassable, and used to wear long trousers even in summer as a defence against overgrown nettles and thorns. The ground was often rough, or soft and muddy, usually both. There was very little in the way of trail maintenance beyond the farmer dumping some bricks into the mud.

In December 86, it took me ten hours to ride less than 40 miles of Ridgeway from Avebury to Streatley upon Thames. Even the Cleland struggled with the hoof print embossed heavy clay, in turn churned by multiple four wheel drive and trail motorbike’ ruts, and punctuated by massive holes created where tractors had got stuck and spun their rear wheels. The easiest riding on some sections was found by trailblazing through the long grass at the sides of the trail. Today many of these sections have been bulldozed flat, drained and gravelled so as to resemble a Sustrans’ route. And how boring is that? No much fun or challenge, and no adventure at all.

A modern trail centre black-run can be great fun. But to my mind they are often far less of a challenge and adventure than some of the old school’ unmaintained tracks. And no mobile phones if things went wrong. Just a map, compass, comprehensive toolkit, emergency whistle and a survival blanket.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 18, 2010 10:40 am 
retrobike rider / Gold Trader
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Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 10:01 am
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Location: Stockport, staring at the Peaks
Loving this, thanks guys 8)


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:13 pm 
retrobike rider
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Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:25 pm
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Location: Near Wendover Bucks
1981 Cross-pollination?

The American Marin' MTB pioneers contemplate the possibilities of the English Cleland' tyres!


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