I know the title of this post sounds like a pub, and maybe there is one in the world somewhere proudly bearing this name. However, it’s not what I intended. That pink rose in the featured image is named after the famous horticulturalist and garden designer, Gertrude Jekyll. It has the most amazing scent, and it flowers prolifically. The photo is taken at the end of the flowering season, so that’s why it’s doesn’t look quite as prolific as it should. This rose stands at the side of my shed doors and I smell it on the way in, and out of the shed. If you want a rose to adorn your shed, trust me, this is the one to have.

My shed is in North Yorkshire, a county in the north of the UK, and which has a white rose as it’s county emblem. The adjoining county, Lancashire, has a red rose as its emblem. These two counties have always been at the very least, competitive, whether it be cricket or anything else that could be claimed ‘better than the other’. However, things really kicked off in the mid-fifteenth century, 1455 to be specific, when 32 years of fighting commenced, which is basically long enough to gain ‘civil war’ status. 

The now known ‘Wars of the Roses’ saw the red rose gang go up against the white rose gang. It was all because two rival branches of the Royal family, The House of Lancaster and The House of York, decided to fight it out for the English throne. This created 32 years of carnage and death, and if you were very lucky, serious unpleasantness. Like a great film story being played back to you by a friend, I won’t tell you what happened in the end. You’ll have to Google it. 

I think my pink, shed rose recognises the diversity, differences and common threads between the two counties, because if you mix red and white, you get pink. If only the global diversity could be represented by one binding colour, things might be simpler. Unfortunately, Gertrude Jekyll was born in London, which makes her a Southerner and not a Northerner, which is a shame, because a Northerner would have been preferable, at least for the northern (unbiased) threads in this post. 

Righto! That’s enough of roses and garden designers, so let’s get to the point. The feature photo shows a 1990s pair of Girvin mountain bike suspension forks, which I bought and subsequently restored to the level of ‘looking shiny and ready for putting on a bike’ status. I’ve always admired this design of fork as well as most leading link designs, whether it be on a motorcycle or MTB. That’s why I bought them. It was my rationale for a purchase. The forks are leaning against my shed door in the picture because they are ‘just a pair of forks with nowhere to go’. If they had a sense of smell, they would be breathing in the heady aroma of the Gertrude Jekyll rose.

I have two options now with these forks. The first is to sell them to someone that has a frame project and no forks. The second is to keep them and build a project around them. This second option is not uncommon in the heady and exciting world of ‘project building’. I know someone who ended up building a full-on 1990s World Cup downhill bike based on the original purchase of a handlebar stem. That was one expensive handlebar stem, but hey! he was happy in the end, and apparently, so was his wife.

The other spooky thing is that I have a pair of vintage 1940s, British, girder motorcycle forks that are ‘waiting a project’ as well. There is a distinct similarity between the two forks, so I’m obviously attracted by the design. I’ve never ridden a motorcycle or MTB with these types of forks, so my illusions could be shattered, or could be validated. Whilst the Girvin forks are a recent acquisition, the motorcycle forks were bought in 2015. I know this because I have a Visionary drawing of the completed project taped to the inside of a shed cupboard, and including the rest of the stuff that will be attached to the forks, and which I drew back in 2015. Since then, I have got a frame, an engine, gearbox, wheels etc etc. I just need the motivation to start the project.

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This means that I’m clearly someone who likes to have both a succession plan of projects as well as looking for the spontaneity of justifying the purchase of another part to commence more project dreaming. I don’t think I’m on my own here, and I reckon there are at least a few people in my neighbouring county of Lancashire who also operate in exactly the same way, and I bet there’s even more spread around the world. So maybe there isn’t one single colour which represents the true diversity of the world. Maybe it’s just a pair of forks………

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All photos by the Author

4 thoughts on “The Rose and Forks”

  1. I see you’re a man after my own heart! I have 4 MTBs. Two are early Whyte with linkage forks. One is a Proflex which came with a telescopic but now has a homemade imitation Girvin. I have 2 scooters. One a Vespa with an anti dive linkage fork and the other is an Italjet Dragster with hub centre steering. I love your idea to self build a motorcycle and look forwards to reading about it.
    Andrew.

    1. Thanks for the comment Andrew. Appreciate it. You also have one of the scooters on my ‘covet and must buy list’; The Italjet Dragster. An absolute design classic. Lucky man!
      Guy

  2. What would look great, fit the forks to a cruiser style frame, or any radical looking Mountain bike frame, your friend with the bike shop must have something. Fit a pedal assisted electric conversion kit. It would make a great town and commuter bike.

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