Around mid-morning on Wednesday, May 14th, I arrived at Damian Harris Cycles of Whitchurch, Cardiff hoping to buy a Raleigh Oakland bike or similar. The choice of Raleigh was based entirely on what I had ridden as a teenager 50 years ago and on my connections with Nottingham where I had worked only a few hundred yards from the Raleigh factory.
The choice of Oakland was based on my budget and, as I must have sounded pretty determined about this model, which was not in stock, Damian Harris phoned Raleigh, who added it to his existing order for delivery the very next day. So first thing on Friday morning, less than 48 hours after I had placed my order, a factory-fresh Oakland (in British Racing Green), all set up and ready to go, was awaiting my collection. I call that impressive service all round.
The first opportunity to ride the bike came today. At far too close to three score years and ten and with no cycling experience to speak of for more than thirty of those years, two thoughts occurred to me. First, I was lucky to be able to ride a bike at all. Secondly, it might be a good idea to take it very easy to start with as I am nowhere near as fit as I was just a few years ago. So I set off for a gentle amble around a circular local route which included a couple of hills and some moderate traffic. All went well enough and I am sure that if I have a similar ride daily for a week or two I will soon be steadier, more confident and better able to tackle longer routes.