Dear Diary – Page 49 (Early 1960’s – Viking Bike)

I was at the bike shop (I think on a Saturday afternoon), when he took me to one side and told me that if I wanted a really nice touring bike he would help me to get one!

What he proposed was that I saved up some money by doing jobs at home or wherever I could, and I could buy the various bike parts as and when I could afford them. He would then guide me through the process of building my own bike!

We started off with him almost giving me a Viking frame, after which came wheels etc. and over the course of around 6 months, I had my touring bike.

The difference to me was incredible because my Hercules Courier had “straight” handlebars and 3-speed gears. My Viking had “dropped” handlebars and 5-Speeds! There was also a significant reduction in weight and I quickly increased my biking to 100 mile rides. This not only brought numerous new trainspotting places within range, but also presented a whole new perspective on bike rides.

1964 Viking2My wonderful Viking bike – assembled one piece at a time over 6 months!

Because I was always starting out from home, the initial hour or so was always on familiar territory and so, to make it more interesting, I would leave home at night! While the territory was still the same, the scenery and overall experience was very different.

I used to love the country roads at night. All I could hear was the whirring sound of my gears. All I could see was the moonlit terrain and the beam of my headlight lighting up a small portion of road ahead of me, and behind me the red glow of my rear light.

I can remember one ride which was on a particularly dark night and, on coming over a hill, I saw the warm orange glow of a town some miles ahead of me. I loved the time to myself, but it was always so nice to return to “civilization”!

On other rides, where dawn found me out in the country and well away from any towns, I could often witness a beautiful sunrise. From 1960 to 1963, I had the most wonderful times on my Viking bike!

33 thoughts on “Dear Diary – Page 49 (Early 1960’s – Viking Bike)

    • I think we can logically assume that the number of “undesirables” out there would be proportional to the population so, yes, it is probably not as safe. To put a perspective on that however, we must consider that today’s communication methods are vastly superior and more encompassing than that of the early 1960’s. Are our concerns today based on a mathematical calculation, or simply today’s knowledge that events of abuse are quite common? I suspect the latter.

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  1. In rural 50’s and 60’s America, we had single speed, coaster brake bikes from Western Auto and Buyer’s Fair. My brother saved hard from his newspaper route and bought a “2 speed” Schwinn. Luxury! It was rare in our small town to see an “English” bike with brakes activated by grip levers. Anyone new to this technology had to be warned not to jam on the front brake and launch themselves up out and over that locked up front wheel. And laying a rubber streak with the hard sliding coaster brake fat rear wheel was just was not the same with the squealing whine made by the pinchers of those spindly “English” wheels. Oh, and my Honda 90 got me through my freshman year of college, rainstorms and all.

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  2. Viking bike? Awesome! Really a great piece that thing. So classic, in my point of view – can I say it like this? hehehe … I don’t do cycling much, but I ride motorcycle for five years now. I did went to Italy the last two weeks and went back to Germany again. That was a great experience to ride on your on. But you are so right about riding in the night – simply so different experience. I love to ride sometimes in the night. 🙂

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  3. That truly was a good investment. What you write here sounds like real freedom. Wonderful. I also love how you say that it was so special to see the city and its lights from afare – it must have been such a feeling of peace – but at the same time happy to return to it. I think I understand that feeling very well. The important thing about it might have been that you saw you were not chained to the city.

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