Friday, September 3, 2010

Black Beauty

This somewhat sad looking black bike made me think of the story of Black Beauty.

For those unfamiliar, a horse (the primary transportation of the era) begins life in the stables of a wealthy family, where he is loved and well cared for,  then through a series of accidents and reversals of fortune becomes the property of "lesser" people and is treated more and more poorly, until he collapses, bound for the glue factory.
Being a Victorian melodrama, there's lots of moralizing about the evils of drink, and presumptions about class and status and moral character, and of course a happy ending, where the horse in his darkest hour is rescued by the child of his first owner, and lives out the rest of his days in luxury.

Someone brought this shiny new Triumph home from the store,  and affixed the license plate which now hangs forlornly.  Was it a birthday present?  Someone's first "grown up bike"?  Did it ride a paper route, or go to the beach? What kind of adventures has it been through and carried its owners on?

Now the paint is getting rusty, and I think, based on seeing it several times, that it's locked to that post 24/7, which doesn't bode well for its future survival.

Sentimentally, Iwish I could take all these poor old bikes and restore them to their former glory, or at least find clean dry places for them to live out the rest of their years, allowing them to be steady safe transportation for another generation of owners in the future.  Boston is blessed with so many vintage transportation bikes, but I wish there were more people who valued and cared for them instead of wearing them into the ground and then discarding them.


  1. Aww, that is a beauty. It's sad to see such good bikes go to waste! Maybe you can leave a note to see if they'd sell it?

  2. The Greater Boston Bicycle Rescue and Rehabilitation Society, where Bicycles of Quality are given to Deserving Riders, perhaps?

  3. What a perfect analogy to the care (or miscare) many bicycles recieve today. I needant bother you and your readers with another sad story, but I have a very happy Cannondale Cad4, and Schwinn Colegiate in my garage awaiting a ride today.

  4. I don't feel too sad. I think the bike is being ridden. The sides of the rims appear to be shiny and rust free. I have a Raleigh Sports of that era that is rusty and beat up, but it was my commuter bike for years and has spent much of it's life outside. It is still loved and ridden, mechanically it is in good shape. I don't want it to be too cosmetically pretty because then it becomes a theft target. It is currently outfitted with a full set of baskets and used for grocery runs and pub trips. I consider it to be in semi-retirement. By the time I make retirement age I probably won't be too "pretty" either. ;-)


  5. oh--an MSPCB! I would gladly support that...and would probably become a foster mom to lots of bikes in need. You need to give Black Beauty another shot though--I think it's much less classist than you remember. Definitely down on the evils of drink (and smoking in stables--bad! very bad!) but there are cruel rich folk as well, and kind poor ones, especially the nice London cab driver whom, the author implies, is as poorly treated by his customers as the cab horses. And it's the former stable boy, now grown, who recognizes and rescues him. Sorry to rant, but I still love this book--well worth a re-read!

    Is that the old Cambridge license plate on that bike? I have to admit, I'd be happy for bike licensing to be brought back if for no other reason than to get some of those cool plates...