1916 Mead Ranger
Imagine that you were born a bicycle.
Born a Mead Ranger bicycle in 1916. Born in Chicago, but ready to ride anywhere! You grew up rolling down cobbled streets and dirt roads, taking little trips and having a good time. Road racing through the roaring ’20′s. All of the miles you covered in the 1930′s! Everybody was suffering from “depression” except you. You were out going places on new roads and were meeting new bikes from all over. World War Two was a busy time, with gas rationing going on you did your duty and kept everyone moving. Hung up in the back of your owner’s garage in the 1950′s, you thought that your days of adventure were over. You would spend the next few decades hanging from the rafters, trading stories with an old wooden canoe.
In the ’80′s your family decided to sell your garage (along with their house) and you were given to a guy named Jeff who seemed to like your kind. At Jeff’s Classic Cycle shop you met a bunch of old timers like yourself, and you talked about the old days… The cobblestones, racing around, snaring dresses and trouser legs with your chain… It was a good retirement.
Then one day you were roughly woken from a nap and brought into the work room at Classic Cycle. You were being tuned! Fresh grease? That hadn’t happened in years! 70 pounds of pressure in your tires? Hey, what’s going on? You are a display bike now, not a rider. Before you knew what happened you were being crammed into a cardboard box and loaded onto a UPS truck. This is no way to be treated!
Unpacked and reassembled in Colorado, this young fella starts riding around on you. Is the air here a bit thin? First ten miles, then thirty. You haven’t rolled this far in decades! Look at those hills! Grand Junction, Colorado? Isn’t Palm Springs a better place to spend your golden years?
Before the week is up you find yourself at the start of what looks like a race, no doubt about it. There are some old timers like yourself, along with some of those young upstarts like those you met back in the Classic Cycle storage room. They all look excited and freshly overhauled, some with new tires even. Someone fires a pistol and that young fella starts you rolling. He doesn’t stop. Ten miles on fresh pavement. Twenty miles down a long descent. At thirty miles there was a bit of gravel, just like in the old days. You keep going, even through a rain storm. Through hail. Your coaster brake hasn’t ached this badly, ever. On a long stretch of gravel after seventy miles you start to loose your dentures (er, axle nuts). That crazy young fella catches them just in time and tightens them back on. He must be slow, doesn’t know about those new bikes with quick releases (and gears and disc brakes)! You think longingly about that spot above the Harbour Pub bar where you sat last summer, with people lifting their drinks to you and admiring your “lines”. The ride doesn’t stop. After ninety miles that crazy fella slowed you down to a more sensible pace, but he didn’t stop. One hundred miles rolled under your tires that day, one for each year of your long life.
Finally all of the nonsense comes to an end, and the young fella stops pedalling and gets off your aching saddle. One of the other bikes tells you that you just got second place at some old-timers race called L’Eroica!
Well how ’bout that? That’s really something. Ninety-seven years old and you can still give ‘em hell! Heck, you think, wait until I tell all of the new bikes back at Classic Cycle. All smug with their carbon fiber and high technology. Why, let’s see some of those new guys try this in a hundred years..