Guest Blog : Alan Ackroyd
I can’t remember when I bought my huge dutch panniers For a few years I adapted the rack on my town bike of the time to take them but use needed some care because if I loaded them fully the bike would do a riderless wheelie when unlocked from a rack. I found this disconcerting, so the hunt was on for a rack and bike combination to enable the weekly supermarket shop to be done in one hit with the panniers.
Royal Mail Postie Bikes
For several years life got in the way of cycling and I found myself doing all my journeys in a transit van which handled the shopping with ease but was no fun. On selling my business I was able to return to real life and noticed the Elephant Bike being advertised. I had lusted after the last generation of posties bikes and tried to buy one as they were withdrawn from service but was blanked at every turn. Elephant bikes are the specially designed Pashley posties bikes reconditioned for a new lease of life by a charity doing development work in Malawi and working out of a base in Stoke-on-Trent. Their Stoke workshop is operated as an employment training scheme and every bike they sell in the UK finances the provision of a similar bike in Malawi. They received 4500 bikes from Royal Mail and now have a limited supply!
I got my elephant in late January. After years off a bike the sense of freedom was like being able to fly! I can go just where I want and don’t have to worry about traffic jams or parking. The whole of Cambridge is within easy reach. I can be sitting on a train 12 minutes after leaving the front door. Bookshops are no longer a pre-planned expedition. The daily swim is just 14 minutes away. I’m ordering less on e-Bay now I can get to the shops. And journey times taken are pretty much guaranteed – traffic queues are no problem! Every journey is a direct flight by “Elephant Airways”!
The Bike fits my Panniers
I strongly deny having bought the bike to fit the panniers, but fit they do! The extended rear rack would take four posties’ pannier bags and mine fit just fine. The bike seems to handle better when it is loaded, with the frame designed to work with the extended rear rack as well as the meaty front carrier. It’s a very competitively priced cargo bike.
But the main thing is the freedom. I can go where I like, when I like. I’m happy riding on the road in all sorts of traffic but the growing network of dedicated pathways bring added pleasures. The Cam tow-path, Anglesey Abbey, Midsummer Common and Jesus Green, the busways, and all those paths out to Reach giving time to enjoy the moment rather than thinking about approaching vehicles – and breathing their exhaust fumes. These days I’m looking for excuses to get my bike out! And after an extended brush with the NHS last year I can feel myself getting fitter with all this exercise!
Where does the “elephant” bit come from?
It’s not just the weight of the bike! Apparently when they first started sending the refurbished post bikes to Africa in Post Office Red the elephants chased them. Now the default colour is dark green and the elephants are happy. So am I!