Monday, 11 May 2009
Many years ago a foreign friend of mine was interested in obtaining a classic racing bicycle so I imported from South Australia a 1920s Bullock 28 inch fixed wheel racing bike unfortunately the new owner in question found the large 28 inch fixie not to his liking and unsafe in a city environment and the bicycle was purchased by Hasegawa san for his collection. The Bullock bicycle company of Adelaide has a long and detailed history being one of the most sort after marques at the time for racers in South Australia. For a more detailed account of the Bullock cycle Co please take a look at the link below to the history of the company
As you can see from the above photos the bicycle in question has been fully restored and repainted with fantastic box & feather lining. This technique was all the rage in the old days and most top end bicycles came with fancy paintwork such as the example above. As an ex sign writer myself I know how hard this type of work is and it takes great skill to be able to use a fine lining brush to produce this type work. These days there are not too many old school frame painters around who are able to reproduce this type of artwork. Apart from the outstanding paintwork on the Bullock I feel that it has the wrong pedals are they are of the rubber block type rather than the rat trap racing style that would have been used on this type of bicycle for track or road racing. Although the Bullock had a brooks saddle its not of the narrow racing type such as a B17, B15 etc and to fully complete the restoration these two items would need to be replaced with the correct period examples. I thing I do know that the Bullock is a very fast bicycle and worthy of its reputation as a well made racing bike as when I lived in Shibata I had the opportunity to take it for a spin and it was a fantastic bicycle to ride.
For many years when I first came to Japan I resided in a small city called Shibata City located not far from Niigata City where I now live. Yesterday I had a day off so I decided to cycle out across the Agano river and visit my old friend Hasegawa san whose family have owned a bicycle shop in Shibata for over 80 years. The entire trip took only an hour and as the road I took to Shibata is not so spectacular so I did not bother to take any photos along the way as my main reason was to visit the bicycle shop where I spent a lot of my free time building bicycles, mainly ordinaries otherwise known as high wheelers, penny farthings etc. Hasegawa san was rather surprised to see me as we had not not for many years and after a coffee and a chat I took a look around the bicycle shop. The shop consists of their family house, showroom, workshop and upstairs loft which also doubles as a showroom and storage area. The above photo shows Hasegawa san outside his bicycle shop and an unusual front wheel drive French Gitane bicycle which is part of his small collection of rare bicycles. The French Gitane is a geared up front wheel driver along similar lines to the British Crypto Bantam and many years ago I rode the bicycle in a parade and it was great fun to ride and very comfortable. These days the shop appears quieter and like many business in the less populated areas of Japan is struggling due to the economy but its great to see that his shop is still open and ready to serve the bicycle needs of local residents.
Thursday, 7 May 2009
Over the annual Golden week holiday I went to Fukushima to climb Mt Bandai and after climbing the mountain my Japanese friend Sho took me to Ura Bandai, a popular outdoor destination in summer and winter where his family were staying at a public campsite. After taking a tour of the camp site I can easily see why Sho & his family love coming here as it was a fantastic campsite and well designed. The main reception building was built in a log house style but was very spacious with a large reception area and drying rooms, toilets, shower rooms etc. Out the back of the main building was a sprawling campsite ( 50,000 square mtrs ) with BBQ areas and toilet blocks and the best thing about the camping area is that you are not allowed to drive your car to the campsite. How do you get your camping equipment from your car to your campsite ? - Next to the large car park there are a fleet of hand carts in which you can load your camping equipment and then follow the many walking, cycling trails that lead through the campsite. Apart from the large tent site there is also what the Japanese call an Auto park which means there are some large tents erected on raised wooden platforms with car parking available for those who do not want to bring their own tent etc. The fee for camping was very reasonable $10.00 per person per night. After checking out the campsite and picking up a brochure from the reception I was already thinking how fantastic it would be to stay here overnight with the Humber. There is a train station not far away which would be the perfect starting point for exploring the area. Pictured above are some photos I took at the campsite & nearby Lake Sohara.