Tess Read – For The Love Of Bike

Tess Read – For The Love Of Bike

My favourite bike ever, was called Bessie. She was bright pink with rather approximate steering and not much in the way of gears, but I brought her back on a plane from India, put a basket on her, and loved her. I used to ride her in and out of the dreaming spires of Oxford but she got stolen, as was the way of bikes, especially in Oxford.

After a brief period of mourning, I went to the secondhand bike shop and upgraded to an old thin-wheeled Raleigh. It was a very different riding experience and three weeks later it was also stolen. Disheartened, I went for a £10 disgrace of rusting metal, with the crucial advantage that surely no one could be bothered to steal it. It lasted 7 days! 

This level of bike stealing was out of control, even for Oxford. Something particular was going on. Bike thieving gangs from Birmingham were driving down in large white vans, taking metal cutters to locks in the dead of night across the city, and then driving home. One night, they had a cunning plan, so cunning, however, that it was their undoing. The railway station was always home to hundreds of bikes locked to metal stands many metres long. Why bother with cutting off individual locks when you can just cut the metal stand itself and reel the bikes off in an instant? Sadly for them, the police were on the lookout and the station’s CCTV earned its keep. They were arrested and stole the bikes of Oxford, no more.

I bought another shopper bike, put flowers around the basket, and generally lived the cliché. Well, you are only young once. Unless, of course, you go back to studying as a “mature” student, in which case you can be young multiple times.

And now after moving to Exeter, I have upgraded to living the dream. I have bought superb reconditioned bikes for all the family from the brilliant bike charity, Ride On and I never get enough of the ever-gorgeous Exe river trails.

None of the bikes have been stolen yet, although, in a few years if someone could arrange for my bike to mysteriously disappear so that I can justify an upgrade, that would be great. Maybe I will just have to take a day trip to Oxford.

All content by Tess Read

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