Posts tagged ‘Pashley Princess Sovereign’

November 3, 2013

BEDN #3. Light. Or, goodbye Pashley Princess…

Today’s #BEDN post prompt was ‘light’. Most people will probably write about light in rather a different way to me, especially because today is the main celebration of Diwali, the Hindu festival of light, and Happy Diwali to everyone celebrating!

But, this is what’s happening in my life, and so I’m writing about ‘light’ as the opposite to ‘heavy’… Because, after lots and lots of deliberating, I’ve sold my bike. Those of you who have been following this blog for a while will remember that it took a lot of deliberating roughly a year ago before I bought it!

The Pashley Princess is a beautiful thing. It’s utterly classic with immaculate, historic design credentials and that lovely leather Brooks saddle is the cherry on the top. I loved it. But in truth, I never should have bought it. In my head, the Pashley was perfect for me.  It’s pretty bomb-proof, so it would have lasted forever, the saddle was nice and comfy, the upright position perfect for a spot of nosying into other people’s gardens whilst cycling past and the basket on the front useful for putting my food shopping in, whilst slowly pottering my way along nice flat roads of Cambridge.

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Ah, but wait. I don’t live in Cambridge. Or York. Or Norfolk, for that matter, or anywhere else flat that might spring to mind. Holland, maybe?

I live in West Yorkshire. In old coalfield territory. We have hills here. And I’d been kidding myself all along that it wasn’t a problem. The last straw really came a couple of weeks ago when we decided to have a short cycle ride to visit my Grandma. She lives a mere five or six miles away, and I knew we’d have plenty of time to rest before making the return journey so I thought it would be totally fine. I was wrong. On leaving home, almost straight away we hit a hill, and by the time I got to the top of that, I was red-faced, and somewhat nauseous (sorry for that image!) whilst my lovely boyfriend Stephen, on his carbon-fibre road bike looked as fresh as a daisy. By the time we got to Grandma’s I was feeling quite sorry for myself and I think she was somewhat alarmed to see the colour of my face! A nice sit down and a cup of tea helped restore my natural colour and then we set off back home.

The return journey was even hillier, as we went a different, slightly longer way. We’d nearly reached home, and I’d had a big change of heart. Instead of thinking that I was slow and struggling because of the bike, I’d really started to think that perhaps I was slow and struggling simply because of me. Thinking that it was purely my lack of fitness, or simple ineptitude was starting to make me want to get off the bike, throw it into a hedge and walk away without a second glance. Thankfully, before I’d got to that point, Stephen realised what was going on. He stopped, jumped off his bike and offered to swap.

Now, the image of a big, fit male cyclist on a women’s Pashley Princess, complete with giant silver bell and wicker basket is quite a silly one, so I am incredibly grateful to him for doing that. But not so grateful that I didn’t whip past him on the next hill on his gorgeous, incredibly light (and three sizes too big) carbon fibre Planet X bike. And the incredible realisation that it wasn’t just me being slow and rubbish, it really and truly was the damn tank-like Pashley, was bloody brilliant. And I knew it was time…

My beloved 91 year old Grandma gave me one piece of advice when she saw how exhausted I was from riding such a heavy bike.

“Put it on Ebay”

And so I did.

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June 25, 2012

Cycle Chic: Sawako Furono helmet

Even though I’d rather cycle with the wind in my hair, unhindered by any kind of head protection, I don’t live in the bucolic idyll I’d like to, so I do ususally wear a protective helmet, especially when riding in traffic. It’s also mandatory for any kind of event, and I’d expect my kids to wear one so it’s only right that I practice what I preach to them.

After I bought my beautiful Pashley Princess Sovereign (recently christened Lucinda) I really wanted a helmet that felt more in keeping with her feminine style. My old helmet, borrowed from my husband, wasn’t exactly fitting the bill. Thankfully, I’ve recently discovered the beautiful helmets made by Sawako Furono. An architect by training, she designed the helmets to be a stylish alternative to the usual, masculine headwear we’re usually presented with. When I’m riding any other bike, I’m more than happy to wear my old helmet, but on the Pashley, this feels like a better option. I’m not letting my beautiful new bike down with a rubbish old helmet!

My beautiful new bike helmet

The helmets cost about the same as a high-end cycling helmet of any brand, but are produced in very limited numbers and in beautiful colour options. They are one size, with an adjustable dial at the back. For a brief second when I tried it on, I thought it was too small, but thankfully I was wrong and once I’d opened the fitting up at the back, it fitted perfectly and is really comfortable to wear.

A close up of the Liberty-esque print.

I bought my helmet from Cycle Chic, although you can also buy them directly from Sawako Furono’s website. Cycle Chic have a range of other helmets as well as other great panniers, clothing and accessories.

I suppose you’re going to want to see what it looks like? Oh, go on then…

June 11, 2012

Pashley Princess Sovereign

Yesterday was test ride day. After consulting the whole world, the bike I have ended up ordering is the Pashley Princess Sovereign, in Buckingham Black.

Before we entered the shop I was having doubts about whether it was the right decision. After all, it’s a bike with a design dating back to the 1930’s and apart from some nice specification upgrades (Sturmey Archer hub brakes and Schwalbe puncture resistant Marathon Plus tyres) it hasn’t changed since. On the one hand, it’s outdated, a bit silly and completely unsuitable for riding around hilly Leeds. On the other hand, I’ve always wanted one. It’s the sheer unadulterated beauty of the machine, coupled with a very strong rose-tinted view of life atop a Pashley that’s done it. I’m basically yearning to be a character in an Enid Blyton book.

My lovely (long suffering) husband said to me that I should stop being practical and just go with my guts. As we went upstairs and I saw ‘my’ bike waiting for me, I grinned a giant grin. That was it. I was in love. One test ride up and down the local roads later and it was completely confirmed. This is the bike I want. Rose-tinted and impractical it may be, riding it was an utter, utter joy. Sitting upright gives you a similar body position as on a horse, rather than sitting forward, which I find really comfortable. There is no getting around the fact that it weighs an absolute ton, but I’m not going anywhere near Alpe d’Huez any time soon. Apart from  using it to cycle to some of my work projects, I will mostly be pootling around after my kids on their little bikes, so that doesn’t matter. The giant basket in the front can hold all manner of baby wipes, soft toys, blankets, sweets and other essentials for a family outing. As for Cycletta, well, I’ll be at the back, sitting upright, and grinning all the way round.

As we left the shop, after reserving the bike and going home to sort out the rest of the paperwork, I did a little bit of happy crying. It’s a rare feeling to have exactly the thing I want, after waiting for years and years for it. I’m still smiling now, just remembering the test ride, and knowing that after a few more weeks of waiting, it will be coming home with me.