The post this time is not quite about Cycling with Dave Yates but instead my good friend Wallie. This might look like an ordinary, out of date, obsolete and unremarkable bicycle. And yet it has quite a bit of history but before I go into the details, it’s worth mentioning the Dave Yates was dusted off especially for our ride in the Cotswolds, which we do every autumn.
As usual we meet at Burford, just off the A40 in Oxfordshire and head off around the delightful lanes in the area. This time we only did 24 miles, much less than normal. The main reason for this was that we were both COLD and this was made worse sitting on a village green bench for lunch. No matter.
The ride was delightful as always and I do enjoy Wallie’s company. We’ve known each other since 1982 and this makes him my longest standing good friend and over the years we have cycled many a mile with each other. We catch up on things; jobs, family, where we are in life, hopes, plans and dreams. Any suggestion that we are like a pair of grumpy old men, putting the ‘world to right’ is simply not true.
The little roads and lanes around Burford are ideal for us to ride alongside each other to chat away. Only occasionally do we venture onto busy main roads (and never onto the A40) and the only reason we go single file is to allow a passing car to creep by. These range from posh 4x4s to mud strewn pickups and the drivers are mostly polite, considerate and tolerant as we make room to pass each other. The other times we part company is when freewheeling down hill, sometimes pretty fast!
And so, the Dave Yates
Wallie had his Dave Yates as a custom build alongside his partner’s. The two of them cycled around the world from the late 1980s to early 90s. I loved getting various letters from them telling me about their adventures although it has to be said there were sometimes a ‘his and hers’ version which made it all the more interesting and hilarious for me to read.
For now Wallie dusted off the Dave Yates, pumped up the tyres, checked it over and decided to use it this time. I can tell you that I was a little apprehensive this may lead to an impromptu de-tour. This has happened before and seemed to start early enough on a nice easy track before turning into a full blown mountain bike quagmire. Not so this time, we stayed on the roads, phew.
The two Dave Yates’ were stripped down and regreased once they’d returned from their travels and then tucked away until now. It all ran pretty smoothly as you’d expect for a bike equipped with Campag components from that era as these were made to last. The bike as you see it was made-to-measure and built for long distances, heavy loads and reliability. That’s exactly what it lived up to. For now Wallie had removed the custom made pannier racks but as you can see below, the rear race included having additional water bottle cages brazed on (in addition to the fittings for the frame to carry three cages).
For Wallie the handling seemed just the same, like it had ridden it on a daily basis; everything fell into place. Well, almost everything. You see the Brooks’ B17? Rock hard. Not the soft, supple piece of perfectly moulded leather anymore. We had a debate about how to deal with this, to soften it safely and bring some life back into it. I tend to play these things by-the-book and suggested a tin of Proofhide with regular coatings on either side of the leather.
Wallie has kindly shared the photos below, each showing the Dave Yates in stunning scenery bringing memories which should last a lifetime. While the Dave Yates might be old and of little interest to those following cutting-edge design, and yet it’s a perfectly valid, well thought out bicycle. It’s also a bicycle which has stood the test of time i.e. it’s now being used and it rides well. The hubs spin beautifully, the rims are true and the Campag gears work fine. The steel frame will have all the usual strength combined with a little flex here and there to add to a comfortable, relaxed ride.