Bicycles are important to me because I never had one when I was a kid. They still represent a part of growing up that feels deprived. True, the old Em and Pee always put food on the table, sometimes even on plates! We never wanted for the best frozen and canned processed foods the local supermarket could provide.
The venerable parents flogged their guts out to provide the occasional treat, or a day at the seaside, cheap plastic crappy toys for Christmas and birthdays, but their efforts never extended to me having a bicycle. And a boy should have a bicycle, damn it!
At the age of twelve I decided the only way I was going to get a bicycle was to build one myself from old parts. The country lanes outside the housing estate were littered with rusting bicycle corpse parts, and it seemed you couldn’t fish in the local canal for more than ten minutes without getting your line snagged on a drowned wheel or duckweed-decorated frame. I went to the library and poured over books about bicycle construction. How difficult could it be?
All I needed to do was collect the parts, untwist and unbatter them, give them a dab of paint, a few transfers, some go-faster checkered tape, and bolt them all together.
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Doctors Without Borders