Not Exactly like one of these Vintage Bicycles
…except it did have Big Ol’ Balloon Tires…
Elgin Twin 20 Bicycle (circa 1936) Sold by Copake Auctions For $358.00
When I was a kid of around 8 or 9 years old, my dad went to a local junk yard and bought an old derelict bike. Here’s what I mean by “Derelict” – the bike was falling apart. It needed a complete overhaul: It had shredded tires, a rusted frame, and not one iota of non corroded chrome.
That was OK with my My Dad because he liked to fix things, as a depression child, and a one time paperboy; he knew his way around sprockets and spokes and handlebars.
Back Then People Rode Bicycles More Leisurely
JC Higgins Bicycle (circa 1950’s) Sold by Copake Auctions For $341.00
The first thing my Dad did was to completely take the bike apart. And then he sanded away all the rust and old paint almost down to the bare metal, and then hanging the bike from wires he had hung from the the ceiling rafters of our Norwalk CA. garage, he spray painted the frame red; to me it looked like – fire engine red…or at the very least a speedy, very fast red…
In Those Days We Never Once Thought About Mountain Biking
Cleveland Welding Roadmaster Supreme (circa 1937) Sold By Copake Auctions For $14,300.00
After all the painting and such, my Dad still had to search high and low for a store that still sold the right tires for this bike; no one seemed to have the balloon tires this bike needed. It was the early 60’s and most of my friends were riding around on Stingrays and 10 speeds. We needed Balloon Tires…big bulbous balloon tires…with plenty of thick and road worthy rubber…
I don’t remember where my Dad found those replacement tires, but he did find them, and afterwards he put the whole bike back together.
I loved that bike.
I Rode My Bike As A Get Away Bike…and get away I did
Monark Super Deluxe Bicycle (circa 1940’s) Sold by Copake Auctions For $715.00
And my friends snickered and laughed at the bike my Dad had worked so hard and had taken so long to reconstruct. They said that it was not a fashionable bike, that it looked big and clunky – they thought that it was funny looking too, and well I kinda had to admit that it was a big ol’ funny and clunky looking bike as well…
Except for one thing: Its big sprocket held a secret.
Colson Commander Bicycle (circa 1937) Sold By Copake Auctions For 2,310.00
In our little neighborhood, on “Our Block” as we used to call it, all us kids held regular bike races. The true test of a bike was how fast it would go. To be a hero you had to win the race. You had to pump your little heart out, and cross the finish line first to achieve the checkered flag and your friends hearty congratulations. I had never won one of those races.
On the big day – the first race day of my Big Ol’ Red Bike, I was nervous even though my Dad had explained the mystery and physics behind my bikes big sprocket. But I am not sure if I believed him about all that. I just wanted to win…once.
On Your Mark, Get Set…Go!
Restored Shelby Airflow Speedway Special (circa 1938) Sold By Copake Auctions For $1,760.00
Here’s the thing about a big sprocket bike: They are slow starting, and it takes a while to gain any momentum, and you have to work at it, but then the bike really starts to move, and the bikes that were so far ahead, were suddenly less far ahead, and then I was neck and neck with the leader who was furiously pumping…and then I passed him.
Dang…! It felt Great To Be Winner.
By Martin Codina
All Images and Auction Results From: Copake Auctions, an auction house who by the way, would make an excellent choice to sell your vintage bicycle collection through.