Five Go on a Treasure Hunt: Triumph by name, please be triumphant by nature
Not many 20th-century bicycles can claim to be Dublin bikes, but the Triumph 20 was made in Raleigh’s factory on Hanover Quay. Putting sentiment aside, is it worth as much as I hope?
While I am at Newmarket Square, I find a few other Triumphs online, cheaper than the one before me, but all in need of restoration. This bike is in fantastic condition, with original handlebar grips, original saddle-bag for bike tools and beautiful white tyres. And best of all, it’s green. There is no more Irish a bicycle than a green Triumph 20.
So here’s the pitch: in a sea of businessmen with cycling-gear fetishes (do you really need to wear those Lycra shorts to work?), bearded young men on fluorescent fixies and Hiberno-cosmopolitans with their little geniuses piled into a Dutch delivery bike, why not cut a dash on a genuine piece of local Dublin history? Lighten up each morning with looks of envy from passers-by. Spend your Saturday morning bringing those white wheels back up to a dazzle.
It’s hard to let go
The missus is not a little upset when I tell her the bike is going back to The Irish Times, where it will be evaluated with all the other treasures.
I can understand why. Dublin is once again a cycling city, and soon we may reach the dizzy heights of the mid-1980s (cyclist numbers in the city peaked in 1986). Me, I cycle my dad’s 23-year-old Raleigh 501. It’s a trusty steed that, thankfully, refuses to be stolen.
If my little bike is Triumph-ant (oh dear), I will donate the prize money to the Peter McVerry Trust. Fr McVerry, who was recently awarded the Freedom of the City, is an inspirational force who works at the coalface of homelessness and drug abuse, and has seen the tragic effects of both on communities in Dublin through good times and bad.
Suddenly I’m back in July 1983, and time is moving very slowly. I’m in the air, looking down at the screaming faces as I fly over them. The bike is starting to drop down and I hit the ground, missing the last kid by what feels like millimetres. The older kids are cheering, and one of them lines up with his Grifter to make the next attempt. You never forget your first proper bike: the one that makes you feel a few feet taller.
Next week: Conor Pope hands over cash for an old cash box