Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Donna's Long Haul Trucker

My Christmas shopping, such as it was, was done at the last minute, and I had no idea what I was going to get for Donna until I saw a 46cm Surly Long Haul Trucker frame for sale on Trademe.

Over the years she has had three different commuting/town bikes, all based on mountain bike frames. All of them required various manky solutions to fit utilitariana such as mudguards, and the riding position was less than ideal once a rigid fork was fitted to a 'suspension adjusted' frame geometry.
The Long Haul Trucker has a braze-on fitting for every conceivable accessory, including several that Donna will never use unless she renounces her short distance, fast-twitch ways. It was a pleasure not to have to attach the mudguards with zip ties, though a spacer was needed behind the chainstay bridge to maintain a pleasing mudguard line.
I like to use good quality parts on these bikes (check out the spec on Donna's old GT Outpost, ferinstance), and this one seemed to justify some top shelf junque I have been saving- Ritchey WCS cantilevers, Nitto 185 bars, and Sugino Pro Dynamic cranks. A few minutes rummaging turned up an all-Suntour gear set- Sprint front derailler, XC Pro short cage rear, and a pair of Superbe Pro friction downtube shifters. The wheels, with Shimano dynohub and Lumotec light came from Donna's Specialized M2 commuter.

Currently, the Carradice Lowsaddle saddlebag sits on the rear mudguard, so a small rear rack will be required. I'm working on something similar to this Sycip rack in 8mm high tensile steel tube.

More photos here at the Wool Jersey Gallery.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Eroica Fashion

Intersection, seemingly a 'lifestyle magazine' for upmarket petrolheads, did a photo shoot at Eroica this year.
Photographer Nick Clements has an impressive portfolio of retro fashion photography, but I don't recall that anyone who actually rode the event looked this clean.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A confluence of fanboy obsessions

A couple of photos from Eric Clapton's Japanese tour blog show that his long standing passion for Cinellis is unabated.

Google turned up a couple of older photos of Clapton taking delivery of a new Cinelli from Antonio Colombo in 1987, and con Cinelli in Milano, October 1988.

Antonio Colombo shares Clapton's love of the blues- his stand at this year's Milan show had a non stop blues soundtrack, which caused me to linger long after I had lost interest in what was on display.

The Condor on the cover of the first edition of Richard's Bicycle Book is rumoured to have been Clapton's. After attacking the Condor with a 10" adjustable spanner and crushing the brake cables, I guess Richard didn't get an invite to feature any of Clapton's Cinellis in later editions.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Pokeno Ride & Swapmeet Report

A small event that deserves to get bigger.
Organised by Denne Parkinson & Craig Bush, who also run the
Pokeno Wheels and Heels in March.

From the Retro Gruppetto there was Peat Alexander, Kim Sinclair (Bianchi Specialissima), Daniel Rosser (Raleigh), Donna Wynd and me; plus Manukau Vets stalwarts Ed Austin (Raleigh 20), Ray Hancock (1963 Rudge) and Reg Hinton (Colian).

Probably the oldest bike was a pre-WW2 coaster braked device, riden by the grandson of the original owner. He had been planning to ride it around Taupo this year, but decided it might not go the distance. Despite a chainring that wobbled alarmingly from side to side, he got along at a good pace.

The swapmeet was a small affair, with only two tables of junque for sale. The biggest transaction of the day was probably Denne Parkinsons acquisition of an old tandem which had been offered on Trademe a few times recently.

Reg Hinton's Colian

Ray Hancock's 1963 Rudge

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Pokeno Vintage Road and Sports Cycle Ride

December 3rd, 10am at Pokeno School

For more details and entry forms see the event website.

This should be a great event for the Retro Ride community.

As well as a short ride, there will be a swapmeet, and the opportunity to display your bikes.
Entry fee for the ride and swapmeet is $20, or a gold coin
donation if you only want to display bikes.

In the event of bad weather, the swapmeet will be held indoors. Trestle tables will be available.

My 15 minutes of low-grade fame

The evening before Eroica, Bob Freitas and I were interviewed by journalist from the French sports paper L'Equipe.
The article finally appeared on October 28, and Bob has kindly posted it here on the Wool Jersey gallery.
Since the journalist didn't speak any more English than Bob or I speak French, Michele Costantini translated, which added a random factor since his first language is Italian.
Bob, who I understand is a wholesaler of car parts is described as an 'industrialist'.

Click here for Guy Apple's translation of the article.

November Retro Ride report

Today we got off to a slow start, with a few Show & Tell items delaying our departure.
I had some Eroica memorabilia, and a copy of Owen Mulholland & Brett Hortons excellent 'Cycling's Golden Age', and Kim Sinclair showed a video of his recent trip to the USA with the Jazz Apple Cycling team.

Eight riders started, Peat Alexander, Rick Woodward (Bosomworth), Glenn Selwyn (Oxygen #3), Richard Oddy, Chris Tennent-Brown (Colnago Master), Vaughan Yarwood (early 90's Colnago Pimpmobile), Kim & me (the Echelon Spectra known as Team McCall).
CT-B peeled off at Manukau to return to his studies, and at Ardmore Peat announced that he was taking the flat and short route to the cafe. The rest of us continued on to Twilight Road where Kim, Rick and I indulged in few seconds of undignified behaviour before stopping, gasping, at the top to 'wait for Richard'.

Peat was waiting for us at the Italian Country Market, where the selection of snacks and nibbles improves with every visit.

On our return to Otahuhu we got fed for a second time at the launch of 21st Century Transport.
Bravely, Donna even fed us liquor, and I am pleased to say that no unruly behaviour resulted.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Hubris and pain in Coromandel

For the 363 days before last Thursday, it was my firm intention to ride my Cecil Walker in this year's edition of the K1. The previous weekend, I had even spent a few hours repairing some Eroica-induced wear & tear, and fitting a pair of fast wheels with Conti GP4000s.
Cecil is a solid, comfortable bike, and the 50/47/32 x 13-26 gearing would get me up hills easily, with plenty of close ratios for the flat sections.

Nothwithstanding the obvious commonsense of this plan, on Thursday evening I convinced myself that I could, indeed should, ride my Gillott.
Surely the hills of Coromandel could be ridden on a 41 x 24 gear?
Had I not recently ridden 135km Eroica, ride with as much elevation gain as K2?
And did I not ride up a steep and relentless 8km climb in my 47 x 26 a couple of days before?
It's just a fun ride, right?

What a dick.

The day started well enough, leaving Auckland early with Chris Money and Yaughan Yarwood. Driving over Kopu-Hikuai, we passed the first K4 riders, and arrived in Tairua in time for a second breakfast.
From the start, Vaughan and I made good time up Pumpkin Hill, and got ourselves into a functional bunch along the flats to Whitianga, but eventually got separated as I chased a split in the group and Vaughan, wisely, opted to stay where he was.
On the Kuaotunu climb I stopped to fill one of my bottles with water, in anticipation of the heat on climbs to follow, losing the shelter of the group which continued onwards.
As the course turned inland from Kuaotunu, we were riding into the wind over a series of three shortish but steep climbs. A few other riders were getting off to walk, but I still felt OK, passing riders on each climb. On the descent from the third climb I decided not to chase a group that rolled past me, then, as the road flattened out, realised that my overgeared climbing efforts had smashed my legs.
I spent a few k's trying to recover, noodling into the breeze in the 21, but at the bottom of the 380m Whangapoua climb decided that a rest was in order.
I sat by the road for a few minutes until Yarwood's arrival galvanised me into action.
Back on my bike, I figured that if I kept Vaughan in sight, I would certainly out-descend him into Coromandel. My legs had no confidence in the plan, and stopped turning a couple of minutes later. After a couple more attempts I decided that the agony would be less if walked.
Money passed me as I was strolling, and Darren Strahan stopped the Calibre Cycles van for a chat, so my ignominy could not be hidden.
At the '500m to Go' sign, I remounted. My legs were still mutinous, butI flogged them to the top like a third world despot . On the descent I attempted to emulate Sean Kelly in the 1992 Milan-San Remo , but as the road flattened my legs continued to rebel and I coasted to the finish, as the riders I had passed on the descent streamed past.

It's just a fun ride, right?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Velo Rendezvous 6, Day 2

Velo Rendezvous Frame Symposium is a grand name for a small but passionate Show & Tell session, held in a public park in Pasadena.
In past years the symposium was fronted by Brian Baylis and had a strong technical emphasis, but this year's front man Peter Johnson ran a looser ship, so that almost every bike in the park, from Chuck Schmidt's Peter Johnson or this Graftek, through to my battered Cecil Walker got it's 15minutes of fame.

John Waner's photos on the Wool Jersey Gallery tell the story beter than I can.

Velo Rendezvous 6, Day 1

On Thursday I flew from Milan to LA, via Amsterdam, again subjecting myself to KLM's dodgy food and cramped seating.

The next day, I submitted to another kind of punishment, joining Sean Smith, Davis Jensen and Randy Duggan for a ride up the Angeles Crest Highway.
In the course of an 85km ride, we climbed more than 2000m, the first 1500m in single unrelenting ascent.
We stopped at the Hidden Springs cafe for lunch, where the proprietor entertained us, and an assemblage of good ol' boys, with tales of his poker playing prowess.
The route sheet called for a detour up Mt Wilson, but none of us could muster the enthusiasm for another 2000 feet of climbing, though I suspect Sean would have been up for it despite the 42 x 18 low gear on his Specialized Allez.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Ketchup & Mustard in Lugano

Today I'm at the office of Ritchey International, in Lugano, Switzerland, lurking and catching up with emails and the blog.
I have been staying in Saronno in a small B & B owned by Sally & Lucio, parents of Riccardo Deliziosi from Ritchey, and he has brought me over to Switzerland for the day.

Today is meant to be the last day of good weather, and it is certainly warm, but it's also raining pretty hard.
This didn't stop us from taking a lap of Lake Lugano at lunchtime, Ricki on his titanium & carbon Ritchey Breakaway, and me on 'Ketchup & Mustard' a red & yellow bike that Tom Ritchey
brought to Europe in the eighties and left here to ride. It is now a well used bike-biz loaner.
For a lunchride, we covered some extra psychic distance- across the border into Italy, then back into Switzerland a fews k's later.

A long day with Trenitalia

Up with the birds this morning, for the 30km, mostly downhill ride from Radda to Poggibonsi, from whence I caught the train to Milan, via Pisa.
This is by no means the direct route, but the only one where I was able to take my bike on the train.
In total, I spent about 6 hours on trains, arriving in Milan mid-afternoon.

Once there, I allowed myself a side trip to the Vigorelli Velodrome, which was looking unloved; and to Masi's shop outside, where Alberto Masi was schmoozing with a couple of cronies.
I'm sure Alberto has a practised eye for penniless tyre kickers, because no one made any effort to fit me up with a new carbon fibre Masi while I was there.

L'Eroica Ride Report

This blog is a work in progress.
I'll add some more detail, and hopefully some photos, when I get home to Enzed.

Not one of my more organised days, what with getting to the van at 6:00 am and realising that I did not have my helmet. One of the guys from Blufreccia found it in the keeping of the hotel (I guess I had left it outside the previous day), and we headed down to Gaiole for the start.

The 135 & 200km rides start 'alla Francaise' as they say here, meaning that you start whenever you like between 5:30 and 7am. Lights are required to start before 6:30, so Courtney and I decide to start around 7am.
Before the start, bikes are checked, not for roadworthyness, but to sort out the ordinary, ie modern, from the 'heroic'. To be technically heroic requires toeclip pedals, exposed brake cables and frizione downtube or bar end shifters.
Each rider gets a carnet de passage, a route sheet which must be stamped at each checkpoint.

The first few kilometers are in the half dark, downhill on smooth tarmac, but the first turn brings a climb, followed by the first strada biancha. None of this is too taxing, and I feel we're making good progress. Matt & Aaron, brothers from San Francisco in the Blufreccia group, catch us, and we ride together until Courtney drops his bottle.

The first feed zone is at about 60kms. An official stands in the road exhorting riders to get their carnet de passage stamped, while a group of women in traditional Tuscan dress serve food, and brew coffee and cook bean soup over open fires.
In the next 30kms, the climbs seem to get longer and steeper, and the gravel gets deeper- I have a couple of heart-in-mouth moments on the descents, and have to give myself a talking to. Both Courtney and I puncture on one gravel section.

The second feedzone at Asciano comes after 91kms, and to this point we are averaging 20kph. We snarf down some traditional Tuscan bean soup and crostata di frutta, but eschew the red wine.
Straight out of the feed zone, the road climbs steeply, soon turning to gravel.
This section is the hardest, and the hottest, of the day, and I stop in the shade to take off my undershirt. Cecil's 32 x 26 low gear is a boon here, allowing me to clean all the climbs, while Courtney has to walk one steep pitch.
At the end of this section of strada biancha, I am well and truly cooked, and not looking forward to the last 40kms, but a third, unanticipated feed zone appears at 105kms, and I take the time to sit down in the shade and cool myself down. When we finally leave, the temperature seems to have dropped a bit, and we roll through the last 32kms, including two more sections of strada biancha relatively easily.
The last few kms are an easy climb back to Gaiole on smooth sealed road.
The scene at the finish is a jarring contrast to the bucolic calm of the ride- the finishing chute is crammed with wives and girlfriends, and a the a brass band plays in the town square. I get my carnet de passage stamped for the last time, and head for the showers.

An "I'm not worthy" moment

Valeriano Falsini.  Photo: Bob Freitas
The old gent that I met on Saturday morning is Valeriano Falsini, who was a team mate of Coppi's in 1951 & 1952. He is 78 years old.
Every January, he leads a ride to Coppi's birthplace at Castellania on the anniversary of Coppi's death.

On Saturday afternoon when we arrived at the Eroica registration/swapmeet/bike display, he was just inside the doorway of the hall, with his bike, photos from his racing days, and a book of his racing reminiscences.

Valeriano Falsini was not the only famous local boy in evidence.
A large display commemorated the achievements of sprinter Ferdinando Teruzzi, who won the Tandem Sprint at the 1948 Olympic Games.

The display and swapmeet spilled out of the hall into the yard outside, but the capacity of my saddlebag limited my acquisitions to a pair of souvenir wool shorts.
For those with greater load carrying capacity, there was no shortage of garb, racing memorabilia and high grade junque.

MORE PHOTOS at my Wool Jersey Gallery album.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Vintage Bianchi sighting

This morning I passed an Italian geezer, 70 years old if he was a day, on an early 50s Bianchi that could have belonged to Fausto Coppi.
We were climbing towards Gaiole on the road from Montevarchi, probably a 300m climb.
While I was twiddling in 32 x 21, he was in about 46 x 21, leaving the 24 sprocket in reserve.
Click HERE for video

I was on the road by 9am today, planning to ride up to Greve on some backroads, then back to Radda on the main road.
The ride started out downhill for a few kms, and cold- for the first time while I have been here. Both the topography and my body temperature soon reversed as the descent turned into a 3km, 15% climb. At the top I turned right instead of left as planned, which I only discovered when I had descended about 300m altitude and found myself in Castelnuovo del Sabbioni rather than on the road to Greve. I decided that this was no bad thing, since I would be back in Radda for lunch.

The Eroica program starts this afternoon, with a vintage bike display in the Gaiole gym, and a dinner. I will be surprised if I do not have a couple of hundred more bike photos before the day is out.

Tomorrow I'm doing the 135km ride with Courtney Johnson, a fit looking specimen from Minnesota. He's riding a very tidy Richard Sachs, with a truly manly 41 x 24 low gear.

Radda in Chianti

On Thursday I rode up to Radda from Siena and installed myself in a hotel here, with the intention of getting in a couple of rides on or around the Eroica course. I stopped in Gaiole, where Eroica starts and finishes, before climbing another 350m towards Radda.

Yesterday's ride was a goody- I rode down to Gaiole and found the CR list gang (Bob Freitas, Mike Schmidt, Jamie Swan, Guy Apple, Courtney & Jennifer Johnson) lurking in the square. We headed (I thought) onto the first part of the Eroica course, but decided we were lost after about 10km ( all uphill). Went down an interesting looking white road to Starda, a dot on the map with a restaurant. Ate, drank the house red, then went back the way we came.
Stopped in Gaiole for a beer, then headed up to Radda the hard way, which climbs to over 600m. I think about 60km in all, but with more altitude gained than the K1 ride.

Decided on a rest day today (Friday)- had a mid-morning nap, gave Cecil a clean, then headed down to Gaiole for lunch.
None of the CR gang who are staying there were evident (most have wives who must be placated with shopping trips etc), so headed back up to Radda with a stomach full of spaghetti, beer & gelato.

When I got back to the hotel, Andy Hampsten's tour company was unloading a vanload of clients, so Cecil no longer has the garage to himself, and is looking scruffy but staunch next to the array of Colnagos, Hampstens, Merckxs, and one very cool Masi Gran Criterium. The influence of Grant Petersen is everywhere- Brooks saddles, flat pedals, even a Bleriot, Rivendell's's new 650B wheeled bike, with single chainring and huge rear sprocket.

Tomorrow, the official Eroica program begins, but I might try for an early ride up to Greve (about 50-60k round trip if I don't get too lost).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Another day in Siena

I decided to spend another day here, mainly because I feel like I need a rest.
Yesterday I forgot to eat lunch when I arrived, and although I didn't actually blow up, I wasn't thinking too clearly either.
Todays mission is to eat, rest, then eat some more.

Went to the local Biciclettaria this morning to get Cecil's freewheel off. The mechanic led me out back and pointed me to the vise, and left me to it.
On the way out I noticed a beautiful old frame with Campagnolo Cambio Corsa shifter, which was apparently built by the papa of the woman who seems to run the shop. There was also a neat Tomassini in the workstand.

4 days of excellent riding

Friday: Novi Ligure to Castellania to see the Coppi memorial.
The Casa Coppi museum was closed, which came as no surprise.

Spent about 3 hours in the Museo dei Campionnissimi at Novi Ligure, and took a couple of hundred photos of stuff that only an extreme bikenerd could get excited about.

Saturday: from Novi Ligure, over Passa del Turchino (part of the Milan-San Remo course), through Genova (a sprawling and grubby port city). I decide to head further down down the coast. Mid-afternoon, as I climb out of Camoglia, I run out of water but over the hill it is cooler, and I crawl into Rapallo and top up my bottles. Over the next hill to Chiavari, where most of Italy was at the beach, and but the Hotel Doria had a room for very reasonable 42euros. Click here for map.

Sunday: caught the train to Pisa, saw the damn tower, then hit the road to Volterra, a town at 531m altitude,a fact I failed to notice on my map.
Probably inhabited continuously for the last 2000 years if the Roman ampitheatre is any indication.
I would have stayed another night, but the hotel didn't have room.

Today: Volterra to Siena, in the pissing rain.
Found a good backroads route, and didn't get lost, at least not so that it mattered.
Cecil broke a spoke, so I am looking for a man with a big spanner to get the freewheel off.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Man cannot live on pizza alone..

but you could give it a bloody good try if they would only serve it at breakfast.
I think I need to broaden my dining experiences somewhat, but it would help if I knew what I was ordering.

This afternoon I'm taking the train to Tortona, to see the Museo di Campionissimi at Novi Ligure, and the Fausto Coppi House in Castellania.
Some of the details, like accomodation, are a bit nebulous, but at least the weather is warm if I have to sleep under a bridge.

On Saturday & Sunday I might try to ride to San Remo via the latter part of the Milan-San Remo course.

The last few days have been frustrating, and work-related.
A trip to Vicenza to meet with Campagnolo, where I was unable to see the factory, was supposed to be followed by a visit to Fizik in Pozzoleone, but thanks to a comedy of communicational errors, it didn't happen.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Eroica diaries pt 2 Madonna del Ghisallo

17th September

Caught the train from Saronno up to Como, planning to ride to the shrine at Madonna del Ghisallo.

It cost more to get the bike on he train than it did me, and a few Italians still looked at me as if I was breaking some local taboo.
I don't think I missed much by not riding- the train passed through a succession of small towns, separated by green space which seems doomed for iminent development. Every vista includes a couple of construction cranes.

After intensively exploring the lakefront at Como I finally found the road to Bellagio down a back alley, getting underway at 11am. The road undulates along the Como lakefront through a succession of villages, and past the holiday homes of the 18th century rich.
I stopped at Lezzeno for a plate of spaghetti and a beer, before continuing to Bellagio, where I managed to get lost again. After consulting with a pair of German moto-tourists and their library of maps, I went, somewhat uncertainly, on my way.

I may surprise you, gentle reader, that the most important shrine in all Christendom is essentially devoid of any signage, so as I grovelled to an altitude of 800m, then started descending again, I was somewhat in doubt that I was on the right road. Like a good pilgrim I kept going, eventually to be rewarded by a sign advertising the Madonna del Ghisallo camp grounds. A few minutes more stiff climbing (this is the most significant climb on the Tour of Lombardy parcours), and I was there.

The inside of the chapel is tiny, the walls festooned with banners, jerseys, and memorials cyclists who have died. some at a ripe old age, but also a disturbing number of teenage riders in more recent years.
Higher on the walls, bikes that belonged to Bartali, Coppi, Motta, Gimondi, Merckx and Moser, as well as the bike that Fabio Casartelli was riding when he was killed in the 1995 Tour de France.

I stock up on Madonna di Ghisallo medallions and Fausto Coppi postcards before heading downwards to Canzo-Asso, a descent with none of the technical challenges promised by the 11km switchbacked climb up from Bellagio. Out of Canzo-Asso the road rises again, a last dragging grind before the final descent, enlivened by thickening traffic and a series of roundabouts, into Como.

Eroica Diaries - Airline food

October 15-16th

The fabulous Susy Pryde has been heard to exhort young athletes to take their own food on long flights and to eschew airline food at all costs.

Not me.

Some of my friends are athletes, and I co-habit with one, but I'm like one of those diesels that will run as happily on finest pump fuel or last nights chip fat.
The KLM flight from Singapore to Amsterdam nearly disabused me of this belief, however, and then their colleagues at Alitalia lost Cecil for a day.
He was finally delivered, in more or less good shape on Saturday night, in time for an outing to Madonna di Ghisallo yesterday, of which more anon...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Going to Eroica

Tonight I'm in Singapore's Changi Airport, enroute to to Italy, for the Milan Show, some stinky lightweight cycletouring, and Eroica.
I'll be heading home via Velo Rendezvous.

I'm as disorganised as I'm excited, and until a week ago had not decided which bike to take.
I had been waiting for a nice Frejus or other old Italian bike to present itself for duty, but it wasn't to be, so I delved into the shed and dragged out my Cecil Walker.

Last time I rode Cecil any distance was last year's K1, when I felt the 47/32 x 13-26 gearing didn't give close enough ratios, so I 'upgraded' the TA Cyclotouriste cranks to a 50/47/32 half step plus granny. This required a longer cage rear derailler, so a late model Campagnolo Rally was disinterred. It's not a great shifter, but its the shiniest thing on the bike.
Kim Sinclair gave me the scoop on the road conditions in Tuscany, so I swapped out the Conti 700 x 37 pictured for some Rivendell Riffy Tuffys.

I have a few days of business commitments, after which I want to visit the chapel at Madonna di Ghisallo, the Museo di Campionnissimi at Novi Ligure, and the Coppi hoise at Castellania before haeding to Tuscany for Eroica.
I'll be updating the blog whenever I get some internet access.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Cardiff to London Tandem TT Record

The chap with the stylish sideburns is a much younger Richard Oddy, enroute to breaking the London to Cardiff tandem record on 21st October 1973.
The bike is a Mercian, which Richard still owns.
Gearing was 5 speed, 57 t chain ring, with a 13-22 cluster for a short 20% on the course.

DB: Was this a specific record attempt, or a time trial event?
RO: It was a specific record attempt.
There are many place to place records: London – Edinburgh, London – York, London – Brighton, etc. In addition our club had its own place to place records, such as High Wycombe to Cheltenham and back, 142 mi (229kms).

For National Records it was necessary to notify the Road Records Association; they have observers enroute to make sure you don’t cheat (take a train, draft behind a truck) – you are also followed by the time keeper who overtakes just before the finish.

Only one bike or tandem can make an attempt on a record on any one day.

DB: Who is the stoker?
RO: The stoker (guy on the back) is Gordon Wright, my club mate in the High Wycombe C C. He was the club coach.
A week or so before the record attempt we rode over the course on solos, having taken the train from High Wycombe to Cardiff.
The biggest problem with city to city record attempts is the traffic – you can start early to avoid traffic in say Cardiff, but it then becomes a problem in London, which counters the improvement in road surfaces and better bikes

DB: What was the time?
RO: We took 6 hrs 13 min 26 sec for the 163 miles (263kms) and beat the old record by about 10 minutes – can’t recall exactly, but could look it up in the copy of the RRA handbook.
I died badly towards the end as I was really a short distance rider, 10 miles being my forte. (I have a collection of certificates from such events)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Richard Oddy's 1969 Ron Cooper

One of the most gratifying things about organising the Retro Ride is the bikes that have been brought out of retirement to bring along.

Richard Oddy, Chief Spoke of Pedaltours and the only person I know with a helmet exemption certificate, got this Ron Cooper out of the basement for the first Retro Ride back in late 2002. I was immediately smitten with lust, only partially requited by finding my own Cooper-built Gillott last year.

At the Okoroire Ride I took a few photos, and subsequently interrogated Richard by email:

DB: Why a Ron Cooper? Were there other builders that you considered?
RO: At that time, and at least until the mid ‘70’s, if you were English then you would only consider an English frame – very few people in those days rode Continental frames.
There were many builders then, one man businesses in addition to the slightly larger ones such as Holdsworth, Jack Taylor, Bob Jackson etc.
It was usual to buy from a local builder. I lived in High Wyecombe at the time – Ron Cooper was not strictly local but he was ‘Southern’ vs say Harry Quinn. (There was and still is, a certain rivalry between the North and South of England).
Ron Cooper had a good reputation and someone else in my club already had one.

DB: How did Ron Cooper design the frame?
Did he take your measurements, or measure your existing bike?
How much input did you have?
Did you specify the lugs or other frame fittings?
RO: I phoned, then visited, said I wanted a general purpose road and TT bike, therefore no lugs for mudguards, (mudguards were usual then when training) and clearance for tubulars, not hp (clinchers) which were then only available in large section.
I looked at the bikes he had in stock and he measured my leg, torso, arm length.
I wanted plain, not fancy, lugs and said I would build it up all Campag

DB:How long did it take from order to delivery?
RO: 6 weeks

DB: How much did the frame cost?
RO: ₤37-1/2 with a Campag seatpost – I supplied the Campag headset – which was considered a lot of money then.
DB: Incidentally, the average wage in 1969 was ₤24.16s.5d, according to this highly reliable source

DB: Did you initially build it up 'tutto Campagnolo'?
RO: Yes, including the brakes, which at 27 guineas (1 guinea =₤1-1s) was a real extravagance.
Not too many people then had an all Campag bike.
I had two pairs of wheels, 36’s for road racing and training, although most training was on my hack bike, a Bob Jackson, and a pair of 28’s for TT’s
It was 5 speed, 13 – 17, later converted to six. Rings, 44 / 54

DB: Have any braze-ons been added subsequently?
RO: The bottle cages and also the top tube cable guides.
Fashions come and go re brazeons. In those days it was not done.

DB: What bike were you riding previously?
RO: A Bob Jackson.
My first real bike was a Chris Brasher (Walthamstow, London).
Another London builder was Frank Lipscombe – he had a better shop.

DB: What type of racing were you mostly doing?
RO: Mostly time trials. I was better at 10 miles. I once did a 20min 40 10 mile in ’69.
I also rode tandem place to place records. Cardiff to London, 165 miles, and briefly the 25 mi tandem record on a Mercian 5 speed, with a 57 ring, which I still have.
All good fun.

Stephen Sheffield's Ron Cooper site
A Nervex lugged Cooper recently on ebay

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Framebuilding Master class

After the ride on Sunday, Daniel Rosser and I were talking about ways to learn about framebuilding.
While I pretend to know what I'm talking about, I am but an unworthy semi-retired amateur framebuilder.
Fortunately, the internet nowadays hosts a plethora of resources for the wannabe framebuilder.

Richard Sachs has just posted some photos of the lug filing process, as it was in the days before investment cast frame fittings.
Take a look if you have ever wondered how a steel bike frame can cost more than US$2500, and take 18 months to deliver.

Sachs himself provides some background in this email to the Framebuilders email list.
Someone with less rigorously retro sensibilities could just order a 'standard' Sachs with oversize steel tubing and Richie-issimo lugs, but, naaah, it wouldn't be the same.

August Retro Ride report

Wet blustery weather failed to deter the ten hardy souls, plus Bunny the stray dog, who fronted for this month's ride.
While some opted to keep their retro bikes warm and dry at home, Daniel Rosser brought his immaculate modern Hetchins, fitted with 8-speed Campagnolo Record.

In deference to the waves of foul weather coming in from the south west, we looped around Mangere Bridge and Ihumatao, returning to Otahuhu via the Airport.
Unlike last month's Bianchi ride, when we were dogged by punctures, we were unhampered by mechanicals, but had a few stops to don or divest rainjackets.

From the slight moral high ground afforded by riding my Gillott instead of the high performance option, I pontificated that a gentleman should own at least one bike with mudguards, until Rick Woodward told me to shut up. Apparently, that's what friends are for...

Returning to my place, Daniel, Rick, Tom Parrish and I rummaged the shed, unearthing a few vintage framebuilding parts and other junque, while Peat Alexander (below, red helmet) entertained the masses with an impromptu exposition on carbon fibre construction techniques.

The next Retro Ride will be on September 10th.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Okoroire Fun Ride Report

A small but enthusiastic retro grupetto gathered at the Okoroire Funride last Sunday.

The Pedaltours van, containing Pippa & Richard Oddy, Richard's friends Dan & Bill, Janelle Porter, Glenn Selwyn and myself, towed trailer with five righteous steel road bikes and one lonely aluminium Giant.

Rumours of Symon Coles' presence were confirmed after the ride.
Choosing to go with the front runners on his late '80s Bridgestone
RB-2, he was in the lead bunch until the last hill.

Vaughan Yarwood joined us on the start line, riding his lurid Colnago Master Olympic, to make up a group of four with Richard (on his '69 Ron Cooper),Glenn & me (both on 50's Holdworth fixies), which stayed together until we lost Richard a few k's before Arapuni.

Janelle put in a sterling effort in her first ever fun ride, completing the 40k ride in 1:32.

Click here for results.

The Okoroire Mid Winter Fun Ride is always a great day out.
While the the Okoroire Hall is too small to accomodate the whole field at prizegiving, the organisation is faultless, and friendly. The course is fun to ride, without being overly challenging for those who have succumbed to winter lethargy.

The organisers, Sandy & Cliff Kingston also run the Tokoroa Forest Charity Fun Ride every March, which is mainly on closed, tar sealed forestry roads.