Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My year in Cambridge

Some memories come back to me.

I worked as the sole mechanic at Bicycle Workshop in Cambridge back in 1979. Then when spring of 1980 rolled in, I gained two cow-orkers. I loved working there. The customers were so varied. Some were serious recreational cyclists. Some were college students. Some were professors. Some rode bikes because it was the most practical.

I used to ride through the streets of Cambridge and see bikes locked to parking meters and say, "I fixed that bike!"

I remember one woman who wore dresses, makeup, pearls, and high heels but only got around by bike. I think she was a professor's wife. She had an old English three-speed with heavy baskets bolted on. She stood up while pedaling. Quite an anomaly! And fun!

I also had a customer who was large-framed, tall man who kept breaking spokes and just about everything on his old three-speed. He refused to believe that his mass had anything to do with it. He was convinced he was unlucky. But he was a good customer anyway.

John S Allen, famous writer of bicycle matters, was an occasional customer of mine. He taught many things to me, such as the history of Sturmey Archer hubs.

Others taught me, such as the fellow who phased into the shop as I phased out. He had just acquired a degree in mechanical engineering.

Being in Cambridge, you were not considered weird if you were part of bicycle culture!

I also used to ride alone through Harvard Square on those warm summer nights. There were really good street performers there, far better than anything you'd see in Boston.

I saw the cute couples walking, holding hands everywhere, and I longed to have a girlfriend of my own. I had no idea how to court women, so I had my bicycles to keep me happy. I was only 19/20 years old at the time.

1 comment:

  1. Tom,

    I was a patron of the Bicycle Workshop in the '79 - '84 period (while a student at the nearby technical university.) It was a great shop, friendly, knowledgeable, welcoming. I did all my own work, though, so we probably didn't interact...but you never know.

    The path along Storrow and Memorial Drives, all the way out to Wellesley, was a favorite route for weekend cycling.

    John Hack

    (aka, "Rethfernhim")