Bicycle Diaries: The prodigal queen

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The prodigal queen

with a little help
from my friends...

...I've found the silver lining in losing that which rolled. As the comments section has shown over the last two weeks, the outpouring of sympathy for my loss is both amazing and gratifying. Enough so that I now have a wonderful replacement.

It might look like the Queen of Scots, my original '53 Lady's Rudge. But it ain't! Now it's The Prodigal Queen. Last May while I was getting the QoS ready for the Lake Pepin 3speed Tour, I discovered that the handlebar stem was seriously bent. With only 48 hours before I headed north I parted most of it out to get that which rolls rolling. It then spent the next few months convalescing on my back porch until I lost its noble brother. The theft, in fact, was a double loss because I didn't have the necessary parts to get it rolling again. And being unemployed, I didn't expect to have it rolling in time for either Winston's DMZV Tweed Ride or The A.B.C.E.

But thanks to Mike Bullis, a fellow 3speed Nutter who lives out near Elgin, I won't be missing either grand gathering. Several days after learning about the theft he emailed me with a wonderful offer: the gift of his 19 inch, '54 Robin Hood, known as The Prodigal Bicycle. It's not only a fitting replacement for my dearly departed '68 Robin Hood.

It comes too with a great story. He's owned it three separate times! He first bought it at the Kane County Flea Market in the mid '80s. Around '96, he sold it to his brother-in-law, who eventually returned it to him in '05. With too many bikes in his garage, Mike loaned it to a local bike shop owner for his Antique Bicycle Display. Then in '08, he was visiting the shop to order some parts. The owner asked him if he wanted it back as he was short on room. Mike replied, Why not?

The Prodigal Bicycle has provided me with everything I needed to revivify the Queen. Its 3speed alloy hub & rim were a particular surprise. I had bought a rather pricey set of rear axle wing-nuts several years ago. But their TPI didn't match my newer hub. Well, they do fit this one! Not only that: the Prodigal came with lovely, chunky, all black rubber tires that, despite their age, are in wonderful condition. They give my new steed the proper commemorative look for a steed that now replaces that which rolls.

I'd also bought a front dyno-bub & rim which, Thank G-d, wasn't on that which rolls although the Lucas Bicycle Lamp was. Again, the Prodigal came to the rescue with a lovely shiny, black Bosch Lamp from Germany. With the expert technical guidance from another local 3speed Nutter, Pirogi John, I successfully wired up the lamp. It's actually the first time it's ever worked and I was able to finish off the entire kit with another pair of axle wing-nuts.

The rest of Mike's Prodigal Bicycle (frame, saddle, drive-train, mudguards, chain-case, and stem set) is safe in my basement locker. I'm going to fully restore it once I'm gainfully employed again. I'm even thinking of making it my year-round commuter bike so I can also restore my '62 Gazelle, Raleigh's precursor to the Robin Hood line. I sincerely hope he approves. When I picked it up last week (thanks to Aaron's handy chauffeur service) Mike said he always thought there was a reason why it kept rolling back to him. I am humbled by his foresight and generosity!

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Anonymous Dottie said...

Gorgeous bicycle! It was so sad that your other bike was stolen, but this is lovely.

24/8/09 16:56  
Anonymous Karl McCracken (twitter: @karlonsea) said...

Fantastic news. And it's plainly not a lady's bike, but one built for a chap wearing a kilt. Could have been made for you!

24/8/09 17:08  
Blogger UffdaDave said...

I believe we should all hoist a cold, tall one in honor of Mike Bullis, a truly generous individual.

24/8/09 17:31  
Blogger cheesy said...

I approve. The Prodigal Queen looks quite nice. I wonder how she'd look tarted up with the chrome mudguards.

24/8/09 22:27  
Blogger Da' Square Wheelman, said...

I'm thinking of leaving the tarts on the Prodigal commuter restoration %-{)>

24/8/09 23:20  
Blogger bother yam said...

nice ride, very pretty bike.

2/9/09 09:25  
Blogger T.C. O'Rourke said...

Just poking around to see if, by some miracle, you'd found your bike.

I suppose, in a way, you did.

Nice story, kinda restores ones faith.


9/10/09 01:23  

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