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59-year-old Hercules bike has never failed Brenda

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

59-year-old Hercules bike has never failed Brenda

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BRENDA HARDING rides every day and she rides everywhere.

She has also been riding the same bicycle for almost 59 years.

Her trusted Hercules bicycle, made in England, was gifted to her just before she turned 13 by her mother Enid.

Brenda has been riding that bicycle ever since.

She never changed it, nor has she even considered trading it in for a bigger or better brand.

Her bicycle has never failed her, she told the SUNDAY SUN proudly as she propped against it shielding from the mid-morning sun, dressed in her jeans, polo shirt and cap. 

During an interview on Thursday at minutes to 11 a.m. at her home, Brenda said that while the rims and the spokes have held up over the years, the tyres have, of course, had to be changed over time.

“I still have pull brakes and the bell still rings,” she said.

There is a white plastic bag that also hangs from one of the handles. In it is her raincoat.

brenda-harding-and-bicycle-032016Then at the back of the bicycle, Brenda has all her tools bundled in a box neatly secured to the bicycle in a black plastic bag.

She unveiled its contents to reveal a wrench, a spanner, hammer, bicycle pump, tyre repair kit and other necessities. On June 1 this year she would have had her bicycle for 59 years, and even with the right handle broken after an accident back in 2013, it has always been roadworthy.

In fact, Brenda’s bicycle is an extended part of her.

“So much so that if people see me walking they would ask if the bicycle has a flat,” she laughed.

When Brenda has to go for her groceries she rides her trusted bicycle.

If she has to go for bottled gas, she slips in the wooden bar she made and balances the 25-pound cylinder between her legs and peddles to her Alkins Land, St Michael home, where she was born and bred, sometimes without breaking a sweat.

Then, if she has to head out for a doctor’s appointment or to visit friends, she mounts her bicycle and heads out. Brenda recalled when her mother gave her the bicycle.

“It was bought at a place called Barnes and Company that used to sell lumber too. The bicycle had cost $98. I had sold a pig for $40 and that money went towards the bicycle and my mother put the rest,” she said.

“I didn’t like taking the school bus so my mother bought it for me,” she added. One of Brenda’s brothers also had a bicycle he let her ride a day after she washed it down. That day she remembered riding down a nearby hill and falling “real hard”. That fall didn’t deter her. In fact, she was even more determined.

Brenda, who is one of six children, remembered that her mother rode a bicycle until she was almost 80 years old, while her father Earl Clement, who worked as an engineer foreman at the screw dock, was riding until he was about 90 years old.

“I couldn’t keep my father off the road. I even had to lock up his bicycle just to keep him off the road,” she said. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and Brenda herself admits she is always on the road. Take Thursday, for example.

That day, Brenda went to the supermarket for her groceries before hustling back home for the interview. She then said she would be having lunch before heading out to paint a house which she was busy trying to fix up. Then, after that, she planned to be visiting a friend who turned 83 that day.

That’s when she would be calling it a day.

“I just love to ride,” she said.

The only place she said she doesn’t ride is to church.

She attends the Sarah Ann Gill Church in Fairfield, St Michael.

Brenda changes from her slacks, shirt and cap, into her church dresses on Sundays.

Riding a bicycle in those clothes just wouldn’t be comfortable, she said.

Other than that, Brenda can be spotted in the saddle of her bicycle.

She rides during the day and night.

Yes, there are more vehicles on the road these days, but Brenda is still able to carefully negotiate the heavy traffic.

She recalled there was a time when she used to ride as far as the airport in Christ Church. Rides to Speightstown in St Peter and Holetown in St James were never too far for her either.

And, every Friday, she rode to Rendezvous Gardens in Christ Church to visit an aunt. She said even to this day, there is no distance that is too far for her to ride.

Brenda said she doesn’t plan to put down her bicycle anytime soon.