A love letter to my Pendleton, and why I'll never dump it for an e-bike

Who needs speed when my mint green bike and I look so good together?

A lady in a white shirt holding a mint green bike
(Image credit: Emmie Harrison-West)

This article is part of a series called ‘A love letter to…’, where Cycling Weekly writers pour praise on their favourite cycling items and share the personal connection they have with them. 

The below content is unfiltered, authentic and has not been paid for.  

Our love affair began in London, back in the early throes of lockdown, with frantic late night email alerts from Halfords telling me you were finally available. 

Everyone wanted you back then. You, my beautiful, mint green, 17-inch frame, Pendleton bike. I affectionately named you Jeanie after my beloved late nanna (who, actually, probably never went on a bike, looking back). 

You became the most expensive thing I've ever owned - unless you counted my 12 years of renting, of course. Still, you were worth every penny. And worth the months of waiting. 

I’d never had a bike quite like you - you belonged only in my dreams. You, with your heavy, but somehow delicate step-through frame and cream so-called hybrid tyres. Somehow, they deflated after one use - though your last service simply insisted you didn’t have a slow puncture. 

Still, I felt like a movie star, riding you through the streets of London on my then-attributed one cycle a day. I lay next to you in the overgrown grasses of unexplored suburbs, wiping away tears of loss, loneliness and raw grief. You remained unmoved - your brown, hand-stitched leather seat offering a supportive ride home to the open arms of my husband.

Oh, how I wished I'd decorated you with a wicker basket back then; adorned with fake sunflowers, ready to cradle my raggedy old tote bag - stuffed with the overpriced sourdough I queued an hour for. 

Sadly, my landlord wouldn't allow you to live indoors, so you had to stay shrouded under an ugly tarpaulin sheet in our front yard. Someone tried to steal you once, but they weren't successful. They weren't getting my Jeanie. 

I even loved you when your chain randomly decided to give up when I was already running late for work, having to wrestle with all my might to turn you upside down. I think I still have that scar on my hand from fighting with your ridiculous chain guard. A stranger took pity on me and invited me to wash my black hands afterwards. You ruined my good jeans that day. 

Still, little girls stared - their petite mouths agape, and eyes sparkling - whenever I rode by in a squeaking flume of mint green. I wondered if they saw you the same way I do. With my gold helmet on, I felt like a princess with a crown - and you were my glory.

Then, when I moved to Edinburgh in late 2022, hauling you over 300 miles on a busy train, I realised you weren't great on cobbled streets. Or hills, or really any incline, or bumpy surface at all. You weren't very good at being a road bike, or an off-road bike, or a hybrid. You were just... a bike. One that got very dirty, very quickly, and made weird squeaking noises all the time.

Gradually, my friends started dumping their own rides, shacking up with e-bikes instead. I watched them whizz past me uphill on a 'low' battery setting, giving me the bird and laughing while we were fighting and sweating, your gears making funny noises and chain whirring incessantly. 

I started to wonder why I was constantly fighting with you - why I had to pump up your wheels every time we left the house. Why I had to lug you upstairs, and go the long way round to avoid breaking my tailbone on cobblestones. Why didn't I swap you for something new, young, fast and light?

Soon, I started telling myself it was too cold to ride you. Too windy, too wet, too far. I sheltered you in the bike shed of our new home and I made any excuse not to see you. Weeks turned into months. I was falling out of love with you - and while my friends whisked away on faster, younger models, you felt like a burden. 

Parts of you grew rusty, coated in dirt and cobwebs, while I tested out my friends' new rides. I admit, it was fun to try something new. Exhilarating, even - but the excitement wore off fast. I missed you. Your uniqueness, your stories. And as I wisped away your cobwebs, I realised you hadn’t changed; you had been waiting stoically, patiently - and that gave me comfort. Like any good love story, you were a timeless classic.

With you, I go nowhere fast - and that’s OK. Going fast is overrated, anyway. Every good relationship takes work - it needs to be taken slowly and enjoyed, rather than rushed. It takes effort - and can’t be fixed with the flip of a switch.

Jeanie, with you, I enjoy life to the fullest. Enjoy the feel of your brown leather handlebars in my hands; the rushing feeling in my chest, the wind whipping around my face, and the deep ache in my legs afterwards. It’s Edinburgh’s fault for having cobbles, anyway.

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