30 Sep 2013

Once upon a time.....

Lately I caught myself diving in my own history and thought much of the time when I was still a very child.
Mostly the time of the mid seventies to early eighties are filtered to a quite sunny memory.
First years of school, my parents were still together the beautiful countryside, the big dark forest and last but not least cycling. With my friends we explored the surrounding environment, stole apples and plums from the fields and played in huge bomb craters, reminders of world war two. There were very old big oak trees hit by blizzards, so the trees trunk was hollow and you could hide in there and play Top Trump card games or shock people by screaming unseen.

But with my parents and on my own me/we cycled and we did that a lot. Often quite far distances. I remember the early get up, ovomaltine, chilly morning and itchy wool jersey (I had only one) and then all tiredness, itchiness and cold disappear while eagerly spinning our way out of town, leaving all the toys behind and do something very different, cycling. Riding I learnt on the bicycle seen above still with stabiliser wheels (the umbrella on my rear rack was always with me, so I´m told).

After the stabilisers wheels (and umbrella) got off I got an all new three speed I was very proud of. But it didn´t took long till my father bought me an used fire red LeJeune with narrow 650b wheels and drop bars, ripped of its fenders, racks and lights. Still a very heavy bike. But now I could go fast and far. Sadly there seems to be no photograph of that lovely little bicycle..

The bicycle mekka in Frankfurt was the shop Brügelmann. Entering the shop you spotted walls full of colourful jerseys, hats and pants. Looking up, the roof was covered with hanging bicycle frames one nicer than the other. Back then it all was crome, colours, leather and polished aluminium, a happy sight, a cyclists heaven. Behind the long counter you saw rows and rows of shelfs stuffed with parts. What you would not get here did not exist. Brügelmann also organised races, events and had its own professional racing team.

Every year we participated in bicycle tours. Those happenings were quite interesting. They started early in the morning, you had to pay a start fee and for that you got a little canvas bag with "energy bars", a number to put on your jersey and a logbook.
Usually there were two or three routes with different distances too choose from, like 25km, 60km, 120km, 180km. The tour was not competitive, everyone could drive as slow or fast as one liked, as long you manage inside the time limit. Every, maybe, 25 km was a checkpoint you had to visit, where you got a stamp into the logbook and a nutritious drink. If you missed a checkpoint you had to go back or you got disqualified, very much like a randonneur event. At some checkpoints they even measured your pulse and blood pressure. Like many we sometimes stopped by a restaurant or cafe for some food.
While my mother and me usually went with the shorter distance, max 80km, my father continued quite often with the longest distance. My memory want´s to tell me that me and my father drove once 120km, but I´m not sure.
It really was an experience to drive through beautiful landscapes up and downhill, hearing the sizzling of hundreds of freewheels and seeing the glimmering of shiny spokes in the sunlight. You have to remember that the streets were closed for cars on these events. (I wonder if that would be possible today any longer for such an event.)

Once on a long downhill, pedalling down like a superboy, my front wheel drifted off course and I flew over the handlebars and landed meters from my bike in the ditch. Luckily I was wearing a helmet. Even I was fine my bike was not. The front wheel was transformed into a potato chip. Someone called an ambulance at the next checkpoint, they arrived, did some tests and concluded that I'm fine. Then they asked for my wheel size and in matter of minutes came a service wagon with a new wheel. They even changed the tyre to the new wheel and we could continue (now a bit slower with mushy knees). Arriving back to the start/finish you showed the logbook and received a trophy of some sort. I had a few (ugly) silver coloured plastic cups on my cupboard.

In the same time I started racing junior races in and around Frankfurt. On the first race I gave sign with my hand when going into a turn, just like we learned in school. I still managed to get third.
Instead of Dietrich Thurau my name could have been in the papers, as I won race after race. The last race I rode was with much older guys with nice shiny bikes nice clothes ect. I had no idea about tactics or group riding and was just maybe 10years old. As soon as the leading car left off, I was like glued to it and sprinted the whole course through as fast as I possibly could, on my little red LeJeune, and we won the race.
After the race the leader of the cycle club of Frankfurt asked my father if I would drive in their club with coaching ect, my father replied that he should ask me, I denied.

Going into the eighties I straddled different bikes, but always had at least one
, and still love them.

Somtimes i still think of my little red LeJeune.

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