It is a 1952 orange red Raleigh Sports with not only working dynohub and lights, but also a semi-rare Sturmey-Archer 4-speed. The paint is in rough shape and the chain guard is not stock, but other than that it is original including….wait for it….the story of how it came to be in Bellingham after being purchased new in England, in 1952, by a man named Rene Claringbould. I heard briefly from his niece, who had the bike, how Rene, born in 1919, lived through Nazi occupation in the Netherlands and then in the decade after the war he made his way through England and at some point onto America, apparently with this bike. I believe that he ended up reuniting with at least a brother at some point, and settling in the Seattle area. He died a couple of years ago in Bellingham at the age of 98.
It’s weird the way things happen. I feel this bike carries stories that go back beyond just 1952, as it’s original owner, now known to me, was born just over 100 years ago. I can’t imagine going through what that young man did, and I also wonder what kind of relationship formed between him and this bike that had him hang onto it for some 65 years? Speaking to that relationship between people and their bikes; I happened across this 50’s era British Film which is a peek into a different biking world than we have today.
Like the orange Raleigh International that I have yet to restore, I will have a lot to think about when I take this bike for my first real ride.
Here’s that film that I mentioned above. I can imagine this bike being right at home on this ride.