Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Tour of the Cave

Regular readers know well that I'm a full-time teacher, and right now I'm wrapping up my 25th year on the job. The last 14 have been spent in the same classroom, which has been dubbed "The Cave" - partly because it is tucked into a weird nook in the building's lower level where my window looks out at a brick wall so we get no natural light - and partly because it is decked out like the "man cave" that I would have in my house if I was the kind of person who could have such a thing in his home.

With the summer break just a week away, I'm getting ready to start taking some things down to be packed away, and the real treasures will be taken home. Before dismantling everything, I snapped some pictures that readers might enjoy seeing. Not surprisingly (or maybe it would be surprising?) many things in the room reflect the same interests that are covered in this blog.

Ready for a tour?
As you enter the room, the first thing on the left side wall is this pretty red Mercian Strada Speciale. This bike was featured here in The Retrogrouch back in 2014. If you look at the wall above and behind the bike, you'll see vintage cycling posters (well, reproductions, actually) for Cycles Liberator, Cleveland, and Klein ("It could change your priorities").

Just a little farther down on the same wall, there is my green and red Mercian 753, featured here on the blog in 2017. Parked down below it is my non-retrogrouchy commuter bike, which I won't describe here (it serves its purpose well, but visually it's an abomination). On the wall behind the Mercian, you can see a '70s vintage Bell Biker helmet and a poster for the movie Breaking Away.

On the back wall is my coppertone '73 Mercian Superlight, featured on the blog way back in 2013. Hanging on the wall behind the bike is a poster of Eddy Merckx breaking the Hour Record (the poster was from Windsor Cycles, which was a sponsor of Merckx's effort and stuck their name onto his specially built Colnago - which reportedly pissed off Ernesto immensely). Yes, there is an old refrigerator door hanging on the wall too. We use it as a bulletin board. Look closely, and you might see an old leather hairnet helmet.
This is the only wall that doesn't have a bike on it. But there are more vintage posters - for Fernand Clement bicycles, Peugeot, and Clement tires (that black and white Clement poster is a classic - like something out of a Felini film). Below those is a poster for Eroica California, and a reproduction of the poster for the magazine Two Wheel Trip, featured in the blog back in 2014.

Up in the front corner of the room, above the cabinets and my desk, are a 1970 Schwinn Orange Krate, and a 1980s Mercian Professional track bike, featured here back in 2016. Sharp-eyed viewers will spot a poster for Cycles Titania, and if you're really sharp, you might see an old neon sign for Raleigh Cycles.
On this white board, I keep a tally of all the days that I ride to work. As of today, I'm up to 130 - a personal record. My previous best had been 111. With 130, I'm guaranteed to finish the school year with at least a 75% bike-to-work average.

Coming full circle around, and back to the door, there is this sign that used to hang in an old bike shop that I frequented as a bike-obsessed teenager. Al's Bike Shop closed some time about 20 years ago, but I got the old sign and a bunch of tools before the remainder of the shop was auctioned off.

There is obviously a lot of stuff on the walls and around the room. Posters and the like will just continue to hang where they are, while small items get dusted and boxed up for the summer. All the bikes will be taken home where they can be ridden. It's worth mentioning that the bikes that hang on the walls in my classroom sometimes change -- I'll occasionally swap out one bike from my collection for another to keep things fresh. But I enjoy having the bikes up where I can see them throughout the year, even if they aren't being ridden regularly during the school year.

Hope you enjoyed the tour!


  1. Makes me want to be a student least in your class!

    The hanging bicycles make the walls seem like surrealist collages. That is especially true of the wall with the red Mercian.

    Maybe the skeleton should wear the leather hairnet!

    1. Thanks, Justine -- I hadn't thought about putting the hairnet on the skeleton. I may have to give it a try.

  2. I would never get work done in this classroom. I would be too busy scanning all the walls to be able to concentrate on my homework!

  3. In a classroom like that I might have been inspired to pay some attention instead of working on my invisibility and successful attempt to stop teachers finding out that I was dyslexic.

    Outside of my classroom I lived on my old iron threespeed rebuilt from scrap.

    Between you and Justine you must have most of Mercian's US export!

  4. You must have a very tolerant or very hip pricipal

  5. Be careful removing the bikes from the top of the cabinets. Your readers would like to have you continue this blog. I always enjoy seeing your Mercians.

  6. Nice!

    My work has a similar feel, but it's a bike shop. so, well, yeah....


    1. The first time I went to buy a new bike was in the 70's from a corner shop run by an enthusiast. I arrived during lunchtime and had to wait outside for him to open. When he arrived he opened doors on the corner and started to extricate bicycles from the packed interior and pile them outside against the shop. Once we finally got in every available space had bikes or bits hanging from floor to ceiling and then off the ceiling. Once I started mentioning things I could not see he lifted a trapdoor and pulled things up from below! I miss places like that... His decedents now have an expansive boutique for plastic mobile advertising mobiles!