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Childhood Memories – part four

A guest post from Mark forms part four of a series on Childhood Memories. You can see the rest of the posts by clicking on the ‘memories’ category at the top, under the title.


My closest shave

After my Claud Butler mountain bike was stolen, that’s a whole other story, my Dad arranged a new bike from the house contents insurance.  We went to Halfords together and I picked out a bright red Saracen ‘Sahara Elite’ – complete with front fork suspension and all the trimmings.  By 1993 standards this was an expensive bike at nearly £500, even if it was from Halfords.

My only mode of transport when I was 15/16 was my bike – most of my friends lived 3 miles away or more.  One night, at nearly midnight, I cycled back from a friends house in Oakridge through Popley to Chineham – in those days lights were considered optional, and besides I was careful where I cycled which was usually away from the road – I always had to summon up all my bravery to pass under the railway bridge at the bottom of the Reading Road as it was in pitch darkness; the scene of many sexual assaults and a popular haunt of the flashers. Nothing ever happened to me but there was always that threat.

The Reading Road has a slight ascent, at the top of the hill was the old Q8 garage (no longer there), where we used to steal sweets on the way home from school, 50 or so yards beyond the garage was an alleyway that left the Reading Road to connect by foot to Mattock Way – caution usually made me stop at the end, Mattock Way was a busy estate road and the narrow alley was shielded either side by 6ft garden fences, but on this night I threw caution to the wind…

…as I shot out of the alley, with a bunny hop and half twist off the curb, a Ford Fiesta was travelling at speed along Mattock Way.  I collided with the rear bumper of the Fiesta, tearing it off, and I was hurled from my bike landing 30 or 40 feet away from the scene of devastation, my stunt roll was 10 point perfect.

I was shaking but I wasn’t hurt.  When I got to my feet, for some reason, I picked up the bumper – the young lady, in her early 20′s perhaps, who had been driving the car had stopped and had got out, she was visibly shaken.  I handed her the bumper and she put her arms around me and asked if I was OK - “God, you shit me up” was the expression that she used, she was kind, reassuring and she smelt nice.  Out of embarrassment and guilt I made my apologies and sheepishly collected my bike together; the front wheel was crumpled beyond repair having borne the force of the impact, but the rest of the frame seemed intact.

I carried the bike the last half mile home.  Through fear of my Dad’s reaction I hid the bike in the conifer trees by the side of the house rather than putting it away in the garage.  I didn’t really know what my plan was.  My memory is somewhat hazy about what actually did happen, though I remember having to walk most places for a year or so.

It was a foolish thing to do and almost 20 years later my cheeks still blush with shame.  I was lucky.  I still feel absolutely awful for frightening that poor woman, I doubt she will ever forget the incident.  I sorely regret that I didn’t take her name and details to apologies properly.  Other than the recent incident with a car nearly hitting me from the rear this has been my closest shave with serious injury or death whilst riding a bike – the lessons learnt have been invaluable.


Mark also posts some rather good stuff over at Vélo Morphē.

Childhood Memories – part three

This is the third in a series of posts on childhood cycling memories, collated through Twitter. Thanks to everyone who has contributed, you all rock!

If you want to read the other posts in this series, click on the category title ‘memories’ at the top of this post.


 Me on the commando, my bestfriend on his striker wishing we could be like his brother on the grifter with the beer mats!  I can still hear those beer mats flapping off the spokes.

From @rentonukmi


The day I learnt to ride a bike my Mum took me to the local park at Worlds End and I spent what felt like hours riding up and down the path beside the school. I still remember the sense of independence, speed & the sheer joy of riding along that I had. Thanks for being so patient Mum.

From @LukeBurstow


My “shining” period. Nice sandals, sure you’ll agree…

From @scottydug


I had a grifter! Big, heavy & often caused me injury from it breaking, missing gears & chain slip! Fortunate but I hated it!

From @G4Z_P


So many! Knocking teeth out going over handlebars, snapping forks on my bro’s grifter, bombing round the woods on a bmx… Stripping down, respraying (badly) and rebuilding bikes on the driveway, trying to do a wheelie the length of the street.

That thing kids do when you race into your garden, jump off bike, run into house, & sit at dinner table, all in one seamless move. And not forgetting ramps made from bits of wood & bricks, and getting your mates to lie in the street to jump/bunnyhop over them.

from @themanfromicon


 Spent most of my childhood either trying to be a BMX Bandit or pretending my bike had an engine. VROOM!

From @nc_velolove


Late 70′s when I was around 8, my parents had bought me an old bike for Xmas & had repainted the frame red with gloss paint. Probably looked awful but I didn’t care, it was my 1st bike. Once I learn’t to ride I rode it around the estate & in our cul-de-sac, roads weren’t very busy then. I even remember fixing (or attempting to) a tyre puncture by wrapping sellotape around the tyre & rim, yeah I know bad idea but back then I didn’t know.

Next memory is Xmas ’83, I’d worked my first w/e job in my dads shop filling shelves to save up for a BMX & I loved the Black/Yellow colouring & cost me about £65. Was a cool bike, it hummed as I cycled & I called it ‘Bumblebee’. This BMX even got me from Farnborough to Windsor to see old friends via Windsor Great park. That was an interesting ride with just one gear. I rode it on & off for yrs & eventually had to sell it in ’94 when I couldn’t cycle any more due to disability.

In Summer of ’86 I got hold of an old 5 speed racer, not sure if I bought it or was donated from an old school friend, but its life ended in October when the chain jumped of 5th gear & locked up rear wheel on wet leaves & resulting me sliding into a parked Ford Cortina knocking me out for a bit & bent frame & forks of the bike, I just was bruised a bit & concussion but all ok. Tried to fix the racer but couldn’t sort it out.

So for my Birthday & Xmas of ’86 my parents decided to buy me a new style of bike my mate had got that Summer, the new Raleigh Maverick. The 1st mass produced mountain bike from what I recall and even now I still think that is still the best most awesome bike ever. It was a solid bike & I put it through its paces, I lost count how many crank bearing replacements it had under warranty. I spent the rest of my school days with my mates riding around. I rode it up until ’94 where I had to also sell it & was deeply gutted it went. If I knew I would ever cycle again, I would’ve kept it in storage & now trying to get another on eBay if I ever can.

From @Dark_Wolf


Childhood Memories – part two.

Back in September I wrote a post about childhood memories of riding a bicycle. It talked about the reasons I loved to ride a bike as a child, and how they haven’t really changed to this day.

After asking people on Twitter if they had childhood bike memories of their own, the response was overwhelming. I’ve had some really wonderful replies: thanks to everyone who tweeted and emailed. I’m going to post a few at a time, so keep an eye on the blog for more parts in this mini series.


 My (t)rusty Raleigh was ‘really’ a Harrier Jumpjet, I would zip down driveway to ‘land’ on aircraft carrier at side of house. That to me is the joy of bicycles, they transport you not just physically, but mentally too.

From @blackdogcycles


Riding my Raleigh Striker (weighed ~600lbs) no handed down a slope = 2 black eyes battered child chic. I had to go to a party a couple of days after. My mum nearly died from embarrassment. I was 6ish I think. It was nice being that fearless on a bike.

From @anthony_casey


 1970 I think loving my wee bike with a big stick in my hand – big stick essential at that age. I can still smell the creosote on the fence I was whizzing past.

From Cal @siemprecafebar (


Racing outside the shops only for mate to forget his new grifter wasn’t reverse pedal to brake. Yep, straight through the window. He walked out of the shop unhurt but crying.

From @jonno2323


Part three coming soon :-) If you’d like to contribute, please send me a tweet through @ClaudAndI, or if you can’t fit it in 140 characters then you could email me.

Days 13 & 14 – Childhood Memories.

My cousin got a bike for her 5th birthday. It is red, with white tyres, and a seat for her dolly on the back. She loves it. Watching her do loops around the patio on her new dream machine got me thinking about my own memories of cycling as a child, and how the things that made it exciting back then are essentially the same as the things that make it exciting now.


Riding a bike was one of the few situations in which I was allowed to go out on my own as a child. My brother and I would spend whole afternoons in the school holidays just cycling around the quiet roads, or taking our bikes to the woods with friends to build dens. Nobody strapping you in to the back of a car, nobody holding your hand, or telling you which way to go.

I might be able to drive a car or take a train on my own these days, but there is still no feeling of independence quite like riding a bike. You don’t rely on petrol, and you don’t rely on timetables and schedules. If you have a problem, you fix it yourself. And if you get lost, you’ve only yourself to blame…


The woods near our house seemed like an endless expanse as a child. An endless expanse that, by the time I was ten, I knew like the back of my hand. There was the oak tree with the low hanging branch that you could climb onto and use as a giant see-saw, and the narrow gap between two rocks that grown ups couldn’t fit through, but led to our secret den. I recall feeling very close to those woods, and feeling a sense of comfort from the fact that nobody could take them away from me.

Now I have all the roads of this country for my playground, and I have never felt closer to Sussex than since I started exploring it on a bike.

Hemingway sums this up with more eloquence than I could ever manage:

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.

[Ernest Hemingway]


I can still remember the first time I went on a ‘proper’ bike ride with my dad. We got out an OS map, and worked out exactly where we’d go. With hindsight, he already knew where we going with no need for a map, but let me help him plan the route anyway. We were off on an adventure! It was 5 miles, that ride, but it felt epic. We passed streams and bluebells and pubs and tractors. We stopped on the side of the road for squash and biscuits. We got home and I told mum every detail, over hot chocolate, of course.

This morning I was pouring over the very same old OS map, planning a route. And I had just the same feeling. I’m off on an adventure!

You remember that feeling when you were a kid; you’d take your old battered hand-me-down bike, brakes rubbing on the wheel rims, saddle split at the seams, if you had gears only 3 of them would work, but it didn’t matter, you were off on an adventure with friends, to build a dam in the stream or to tear it up in the woods, or build a ramp out of bits of plywood you found in your dad’s garage …

[Mark Tearle, 30 Days of Biking UK.]

At the field near our house.

On holiday, aged 4(ish)

New bike! And I have animal stickers on my bicycle helmet. So all in all, pretty fly.