Your "beater bike" looks amazingly good, and is photographed in a lot better setting than mine (attached), a 1977 Nishiki Olympic. It was my first "good" bike, and though made from plain-gauge high-carbon steel, still has one of the sweetest rides I've known.
I got the bike while still in high school (just about to graduate in 1978; this was an older model), and began shopping bikes as a way to recover from some car-accident injuries that had me stumping through my senior year on a cane. I'd messed up my knees in the impact, bending the shift lever on one side, removing the window crank on the other, and breaking the steering column cover with the tops of both. Cycling seemed like a nice, gentle path to low-impact recovery after that. This bike was on the showroom floor at Howard's Lawn Mowers & Bicycles on Main Street (of course!) in nearby Springfield. Unlike its shop-floor brethren, this one was only USD$147 instead of $199; why? Turns out, it had been stolen from in front of the shop, then recovered by the police when they apprehended the thief as he rode way on it. The bike bore a few marks as a result -- a scar through the paint where the security cable had been hacksawed, and some road-rash on the saddle corners and 'bar tape. Seemed like a fair discount to me, so off we went together.
The bike originally sported steel rims and a nutted rear axle, but these eventually gave way to alloy rims and q/rs all-'round. I kept the original Alpine gearing with its awkward shifting sequence, duplicate gears, 100.3" high and 38.6" low because a) I was ignorant of alternatives, b) as a poor uni student-commuter, I was cheap and saved my pennies, and c) there weren't many options available at Howard's Lawn Mowers and Bicycles.
I rode this bike daily throughout my undergraduate years, and racked up 8,000 to 12,000 annual miles like clockwork. We went everywhere, and I joined the uni's Intramural Sports Century Club and got off on the mileage kick. Unfortunately, that had diminishing returns when it became all about distance and I found myself riding while sick (walking pneumonia doesn't help oxygen uptake much) and overtraining. I decided to throw away the cyclometer for a few years, and the joy of riding returned. My knees got stronger, and I knew I couldn't be hurting them if I climbed every hill in my lowest gear. It was harder when those hills were 1 in 4, but I didn't know any better. I...emptied my water bottle so I'd have less weight to carry! Drinking would have kept the weight on-board, and jettisoning ballast could only help, right? We commuted in all weather, and averaged about 36 miles every day by always taking the long way 'round. We had a wonderful time side-drafting city buses (I was young, remember; it's a wonder I got older!), and got the portal-to-portal time for the minimum 5-mile commute down to only 15 minutes. In winter, we made our annual pilgrimage up Skinner's Butte on homemade studded tires. Coming down was easily twice the adventure of going up. We made electricity together. Really! The old Union 9814 bottle dynamo had so much drag it was like deploying an air brake on a fighter jet to activate it. The bulbs burned in varying shades of yellow before they burned out and then it got Really Dark. We broke two cycling helmets together, which counts for something. I can't remember what.
Eventually, I needed something I thought would be better suited for touring, Dad had freshly retired at 62, and wanted to get into cycling himself after years at a desk job. I "sold" the Nishiki to him and he went on to put another 17,000 miles on it himself. I say "sold" in the last sentence because he really took pity on me in a fatherly way and used the money to help fund my new bike with a measure of dignity, bless 'im. We sure had fun touring on our bikes, and I'm so glad we were able to do so together. All nice memories. He's 94 now, and our last tour together was 20 years ago, the week before his 74th birthday. He had acquired a different bike himself by then, but by that time, we were both too fond of the Nishiki to ever part with it. You don't sell Family.
Now, it is the do-all, grab-a-bike for us and guests when we wish to ride something with lower theft potential. Yes, it now has a triple crank and nice wheels, but they're 27" and the frame content puts-off any knowing thieves. It has drop 'bars and isn't a mountain-bike, so is pretty safe from even the corner-begging meth-heads who have become more discriminating in the bikes they steal and the stolen ones they trade for. Still, its greatest value is in sentiment, and we'd hate to see it gone. It is always locked when parked, but we breathe a little easier when we return to find it still there.
Gauged in car-guy terms, it has a five-foot paint job; it looks fine from that far away and spectacular to my eyes at any distance, thanks to the memories involved.
The only problems I have had were when I left it in the town centre on Saturday night and came back to a fat bloke trying to impress his friends by urinating on it.
...to which Dan replies, "If you live in a college town and drive a car with a sunroof, don't park outside the favorite student bar and leave the sunroof open". The reasons are obvious and varied.
If it is kicked in then I have only lost a few pounds.
...and a dear friend in the bargain. Beware: These beater-bikes grow on one, and a person becomes fond of them far beyond their actual value.
Cycling does not have to be an expensive hobby/ mode of transport
I'm in full agreement!
I don't really like the word beater...
How 'bout "experienced"? Works for me!
All the best,