Tuesday, September 21, 2010

the pacer

in the last week of july i visited prince edward island with my family.
it's the first trip we've taken like this as a family.
you see, we always travel with other families but this time we went on our own.

prince edward island is beautiful.
visually beautiful and beautiful in the way that places can be that have somehow managed to retain their innocence - an informed innocence -
but an innocence that has much to do with life as it was lived some time ago.

the place we stayed was just outside a little community called french river.

here's french river.

of course, i didn't have a bike there and when i mentioned this to the gentlemen who we had rented our cottage from he took me over to his barn assuring me that somewhere inside its dark and musty depths was a bike. actually, there were two bikes as it turned out.
he hauled the one nearest to him out for a look see.

it's a pacer!

a ten-speed pacer!

in the light of day - which i think it was seeing for the first time in nearly two decades or more - it was covered in leaves, cobwebs going back generations ad infinitum, mud and of course rust.
i pushed off what i could and wiped it down.

after clearing off most of the obvious detritus,
i tried to roll it along the ground but the front brakes had seized and rusted shut.
so with his permission i gave the brakes a kick and sure enough - kachoing! - they parted enough to allow the wheel to move, catching once every rotation as the wonky wheel swivelled from side-to-side.

here are the front brakes, temporarily released from their rusty purgatory.

the gear changers had long ago given up any intention of working so the derailleur was stuck in a gear that made riding on anything other than flat ground and with a good push start nigh on impossible.

but it was a bike!
i did try one abortive attempt at riding it.
sadly and predictably, it was just not workable.
the brakes didn't actually work - front or rear.
as i mentioned earlier, the gears didn't work, and the owner suggested that i carry a humungous
floor pump with me to ensure that the tyres remained inflated!

so back it has gone to the barn . . . .

i feel a little sorry for it actually.


  1. this bicycle is a perfect match for its surroundings.... brown and gold and yellow and red and white and orange.... wonderfully suited for French River PEI, and almost as colourful and earnest as it's owner! A story as much about optimism and belonging as it is about fading away. Tell Hugh to keep it around until next summer and when a screw driver, some oil and a patch kit will do the trick.


  2. hello a-nonny-mouse, i have a strong feeling that that bike will be waiting next summer in pretty much the same condition. i also have a feeling that your insightful "colour commentary" is closer to the truth than you might imagine as the bike is definitely closer to returning to the environment from whence ("whence" - not a word that crops up very often nowadays!) it came than its sturdy appearance might suggest! a major overhaul, tlc on a cosmic scale, and perhaps even a few hundred dollars could bring that poor machine back from the edge that it dangles so precipitously close to. thanks for the comment paul. steven

  3. hey steve,
    pleasure riding with you today! and i've already enjoyed a scroll through some of your posts. you can find my website at readbutnotsaid.com

  4. hi clifford, it was so good riding with you and the survivors today also!!! i'm going to make sure that this place is linked to yours. thanks for visiting. steven