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i b i k e l o n d o n

December 22nd, 2009 Comments off

I was noodling through my friend pages on facebook, looking for my cousin’s kid (Mark) to ask a question about the family tree, and what did i find? He has his own blog about cycling back in the old country – London (England, not Ontario, where I was almost arrested for….well, that’s another long story for a different place). Very good to read it and find out all of the developments for cyclists in London – stuff that was a dream – and sometimes a nightmare – from when I last lived there. Anyhow, take a look.

Oh, and he had this

Top Gear is a great enough program, but doing this? Genius!!! Nice bike, too.

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beauty maligned

December 16th, 2009 Comments off

Pile o' bikes

A couple of months ago, on a godawful drear, wet Saturday, Kenny and I were heading to Mr Cs – him for pedals, me for tires – but had to take a circuitous route due to something about car inspection. So we took a long way round and on the way, passed a fence with this pile of bikes chained to it. As we sped past, something red caught my eye. It was another few weeks before I had a chance to wander by that fence again, and the red thing that had caught my eye was revealed.

Colnago Dream

Wow. A Colnago, just sitting there chained to the fence among the pile of seemingly decrepit mountain bikes. I had no time to stop and give a once over and resolved to come by and look at it more closely, maybe even stick a sign on it asking if it was for sale. Today was the day I revisited.

Today was the day that I was saddened. The frame is a beauty (of course it is – it’s a Colnago) but it’s in such a sad state, scratched (not dented) and everything on it is just falling apart. The headset isn’t even fitted properly. The chain, pedals, lock and some of the components are just rusting away.

Colnago Dream

Someone needs to give this a new home and lovingly restore it to its former glory. Should I be theat person? From what I can tell from researching, it’s a 2000 aluminum (notice, I’m using the American spelling for once) Art Decor Dream. The original fork – I can’t imagine that it would have come stock with something so ugly – is probably long gone. It’d be quite a project. But it would be a worthwhile one.

And much easier to work on if I had the money…

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jealousy

December 15th, 2009 Comments off

It’s really good to be back in touch with my friend Davis. We shared a house for a good few years and worked together on the Town & Country Club crew when I wasn’t off touring…we shared a lust for Le Tour, for Twin Peaks, for The Pixies Husker Du The Buzzcocks The Blue Nile and more besides. And we loved our bikes.

Anyway, I was enjoying being back in touch with him until he sent me this
Davis Wilkie Eddy Merckx

Now I’m just teed off and, yes, jealous as all hell. As he wrote, “Had a day off in Brussels and got [girlfriend] to google where his factory was and rode the 10 or so miles out there. It was a Sunday so, I would have been happy with just a shot of the outside but, when I got there, the door was open, I went in and there was the great man himself, I was totally speechless, just got out my camera and he obliged. Got back outside and cried like a wean.”

Davis, never did like you.

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the trials of time

December 12th, 2009 Comments off

In other words, what on earth happens to our brains? what hit me last night that, although I can remember the exact times I did in my first 3 time trials, I cannot for the life of me remember what bike I was riding when I rode them, nor can I remember the bike I had when I was taking a break from touring (rock’n'roll) and working as a bike mechanic at Day’s Cycles (Winchmore Hill, North London) in 1990 and 1991. I really enjoyed that time, learned so much, fed the cycling hunger. But when there was a chance to go on tour with The Pixies…well, you tell me what you’d do…

I recall that my first ‘proper’ bike was a Christmas present from mum and dad when I was 11. I’d only just learned to ride the year before (inspired by the previously mentioned godfather, Fred Goatcher). It was a white 21″ Sun, heavier than you could imagine, and I went everywhere on it. The next bike I remember after that was a real favorite – a lilac 23″ Pearson, 531. The color was great and i often could be seen adding orange Benotto (plastic) bar tape to it. But there were other bikes before that – what the hell were they???

Ah yes. My first ever time trial, a local 10 on a course near Hampton Court, yielded the highly (choose your adjective) time of 37:41. Raced in a t-shirt and trainers. I think I was 12. I know I was hooked. Next was a 33:02, then a 31:13. I’d end up taking almost 10 minutes off that time over the years.

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pursuit tangent

December 11th, 2009 Comments off

Finding out about the decision to drop the individual pursuit from the Olympics sent me into a heady remembrance of my track days.

My first encounter with the track was probably in 1972, maybe ’73. In South London, our only option was the track at Herne Hill, a (then) black cement track with a long, long history. There was a track in Paddington, North London, but that was a world away for us. Or so it felt.

At the time, I had just joined Kingston Wheelers CC, a club based in my home town of Chessington (I still can’t figure out how I even discovered such a thing as a team). We used to meet at Gil Jessup’s house, but as membership expanded, that soon became too small, and they figured out using a Kingston School (Latchmere?) for our Monday night club meetings. Tea and biscuits to the fore, I was always full of anticipation for getting to work out on the rollers the club owned.

I digress. My first taste of the track (man, it was bumpy!) was mostly notable for not crashing. My friend Andy forgot that you couldn’t just stop pedaling and was hauled out of his saddle down on to the top tube. Ouch doesn’t even come close. I fell in love with the track – not because of Andy’s mishap. I don’t recall any great success – though I did win schoolboy runner-up in 1974 – but I longed to ride fixed at any opportunity.

Kingston Wheelers, 1975

Kingston Wheelers CC, 28 Sept 1975 (I’m on the left). (Paul Fulcher is at the back, 5th from the left)

The first track ‘iron’ I ever owned was the most beautiful frame I ever bought – a 23.5″ lugless Condor Barrachi in a ruby flam color, Reynolds 531 tubing – sold to me for some ludicrous sum by fellow club member Paul Fulcher. I wish I could remember what I did with that frame. The color was so deep, so lustrous.

There were other clubs in the area, but our biggest rival (or so it felt) were the Clarence Wheelers, who had quite a profile and garnered a lot of attention because of a kid named Tony Doyle. I saw him on the track at Herne Hill a whole lot of times and was absolutely and totally in awe of his fluid pedaling style. It was at one of these track meets that I met Alf Whiteway, one of the founders of Clarence Wheelers who liked the way I rode (he told me that the way I rode reminded him of Tony’s style) and kind of extended an invitation to join CWCC…

Tony Doyle
Vintage track photos at the London FGSS

I went back and forward on the decision for a while, but finally decided to go for it. I wanted to ride the track, inspired by Tony and Alf, and the fact Alf pushed fixed gear riding, fixed gear events, and that high cadence, smooth pedaling style made the decision a little easier. I ended up being selected to ride the points and the team pursuit at the SWLC track meet in ’77 (or ’78). It was a huge thrill and honor to be picked for the team, but I was a disaster in the pursuit, where I got blown out with about 3 laps to go (I think my teammates were Barry Smallworth, Mark McLaughlin and Robert Corcoran).

It was a portent to the end of my racing career.

olympics drop the individual pursuit? WTF?

December 10th, 2009 Comments off

What the hell? I saw this flash by on a sports network earlier and I was floored. The individual pursuit – one of the most iconic events in track cycling (not just the olympics) – is to be dropped from the schedule for the London 2012 olympics? Newser has the more elongated story. This is a signature event in men’s and women’s cycling, a highlight of any track meet I’ve ever witnessed.

To say I’m upset is an understatement of the highest magnitude. Ever since I was a kid, it was always an event that was looked forward to by both sexes, as competitors or spectators. I can’t understand their reasoning.

John Wilcockson (VeloNews) sums it up pretty darn well in an open letter to the IOC

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