Short Post for a Long Staff

So here he was, our new son, roughly 17 years ago, along came a generous allowance from the city council. And what did we do with it? We bought another bl…. bike, even a tandem.

There was this ad in the Tandem Club Journal that someone living quite close to a port in the UK sold a Longstaff, just our frame sizes, 65 and 52 cm captain and stoker. I realized that my wife and I had seen this very bike and gloated over it at the 1993 (was it?) Belgium Tandem International, and here it was for sale. The original owners had sold it to someone else, and these people now wanted to get rid of it in their turn. So off I went in the car I had then, a Series I Citroen CX Ambulance Normalisée, parked it somewhere adventurous in Rotterdam and bought a foot passenger ticket.

Upon arriving in Britain I was picked up by a gent in an old car who took me to his home. I think it was his daughter who had emigrated to a far flung place and left the Longstaff. I assumed I could have a quick glance at it in the garage, but no, it had been hauled up to the attic, whence it had to be taken down again laboriously. I was as smitten as I had been in Belgium, even though the new owners had managed to mechanically run the poor thing into the ground in the year they´d had it (chains, chainwheels, brake pads…), but after reassembling and paying I could ride off – or so I thought. There was a custom made car roof rack for the bike, and the whole thing would of course not fit on my hosts´s vehicle, so I had to cycle back to the ferry port with a car roof rack in one hand and my life in the other.

Arriving in the belly of the big car ferry a sailor of the old school replied to my question what I could do with my cargo, “Just lean it to this wall; nothing special here, we have tandems with roof racks all the time.”

Back in Germany we put the tandem to very good use; my son learned touring on it, and when he was four we got kiddy cranks and crank shorteners from George Longstaff, and built rails from two upturned steel track handlebars with broomsticks between them. I don´t think we have a photo of this, but I remember that my son did a 75 km ride when he was just about four years old, and no extra free wheel for him hidden in the kiddy cranks, either. The photo in this post shows the last stage of kiddy equipment: Low saddle, more or less upright bars, but still the crank shorteners.

We keep thinking that we should get the tandem back into use as for five years now my son has preferred his solo, and I promise myself every spring to haul the old girl out of the cellar, but it hasn´t come to this yet. Well, it´s March right now, and who knows.


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