Things have been busy around here lately. One of my favorite things about this job is seeing my customers see their new bikes for the first time. Here are the three most recent deliveries, beginning with Ilsina’s new custom. This one has all the bells and whistles, from a stem cap USB charger, to a connectorless Schmidt hub, to detachable lowriders.
Next on the list is David’s Boulder All Road. He brought me the frame and fork and I sourced all the parts, built the wheels, and assembled the bike. I think it came out great!
To complete the list, a quick assembly project. Mark brought me his new Ritchey P-650b and a box of parts. I turned it into a lovely new mountain bike for him.
I hope Ilsina, David, and Mark have as much fun with their new bikes as I did! Back to work now, stay tuned for more!
Kids growing up nowadays don’t get outside enough. We hear this regularly, from educators, from healthcare providers, from the media. One of my oldest friends and riding partners had a son a few years ago and I knew that this little boy was not going to be one of those kids who never goes outside. I listened to stories as the years passed, about his first time skiing, his first pedal strokes on a bicycle, his love of fresh foods… It seemed natural that he would start racing bicycles soon after he learned how to ride one. Eventually he got more serious, stronger, faster, and then informed his father that he needed a bike with drop handlebars. His parents and I decided it was time for him to get his first real racing bicycle. I set to work building the smallest bicycle I have ever built.
I found a source for 24 x 1 3/8″ tires and rims, donated a pair of hubs, and built the wheels. This needed to happen first because I had only a rough idea what actual diameter they would be- they just aren’t something one sees everyday! With the finished wheels and an inseam measurement, I was able to do a frame drawing. The idea was to make the bike as big as possible so that Henrik can ride if for more than one season. He’s growing very quickly and it would be a real shame if it was too small six months after he got it. All the frame materials were things I had laying around the shop. A Reynolds 531 down tube and seat tube, an unknown top tube which may have even been removed from a larger frame at some point, fork blades I had mistakenly cut too short for another project, etc. I figured once all the conceptual problems of making a bike so much smaller than usual were solved, the construction would progress rapidly. Then I tried to set up my frame jig. Sure enough, it wouldn’t adjust that small! I scratched my head for awhile and devised a way to hold all the tubes where they needed to go.
Henrik has raced it several times. Now that cyclocross season is over, the knobbies will be switched out for road tires.
Sierra Nevada Brewing ran a television advertisement earlier this year that equated craft brewing to the building of handmade bicycles. I know a lot of cyclists who are rather fond of a pint now and then, so hey, why not? My good friend Joe Platzner stars in the ad, and his shop serves as the backdrop, but the finished product shown at the end is the bike I built for Mark. Click on the photo below to see the ad. All of us who were involved had a good time and wound up with a couple cases of beer.
The Parisian metropolis is no fun to try and escape by bicycle, especially if you don’t know your way very well. My friend Olivier advised me to take a train to Gisors and ride to Rouen from there. He even outlined the best route and loaned me a map. It was a beautiful ride and I arrived at Alain’s house that afternoon hungry and in need of a shower, but really happy. Alain and I have many friends in common and have corresponded via Facebook for a long time, but we had never actually met face to face. He and his wife Nicole provided a wonderful meal and we talked so late I could hardly keep my eyes open. The next morning, Alain and I went for a bike ride. We stopped numerous times to take photos or simply enjoy the view.
When most people think of the river Seine, they think of Paris, Notre Dame, and stone bridges. Downstream from Paris though, the Seine flows back and forth through Normandy in great hairpin loops. Our ride required us to cross the river several times and there are free ferries at many points.
The ferries don’t run at lunch time. We had planned to eat in a particular restaurant, but missed the last pre-lunch ferry by perhaps 20-30 seconds. The two choices at that point were to ride a very long way around, or have a beer in the bar next to the ferry dock. Actually I think we had two beers and a sandwich.
The next day on my way out of town, I visited the grave of one of the greatest racing cyclists that ever lived, Jacques Anquetil. It’s in a church yard, just down the street from Alain and Nicole’s house and I never would have known if they hadn’t mentioned it. The stop earned my passing notice on the local news website.
At this point, I only had a few more days in France before it was time to fly home. My plan was to ride from Quincampoix back to Guingamp over a period of two or three days, but after wasting several hours being lost, then getting soaked in a rainstorm, I took the train instead. Vacation is all about having fun, I reasoned, and up until now I had been having lots of fun. Better off to take the train and spend a few more wonderful days with friends than to suffer needlessly in a wet tent on a long solo ride!
I was only able to spend a few days in Switzerland. Luc and Val showed me some wonderful highlights. Here are a few, in no particular order.
All too soon, I had to leave my lovely hosts. They gave me a ride over the French border in their car and then I continued on to Dijon by bike. From there, I took the train to Paris to visit another friend for a few hours of good conversation and a lovely meal.
Stay tuned for the next installment where I visit a randonneuring friend near Rouen and stumble across the final resting place of one of the greatest bicycle racers that ever lived!
After we finished our week-long tour of the Ardèche region, my three friends left me on my own and I headed for Switzerland. Along the way I stopped in Le Grand Lemps to visit an old friend and former co-worker, KC Elstun. He’s not working on bikes anymore but his alter-ego Cincinnati Slim is alive and well. Everyone should click on the link, visit his site, and buy his album! After I left his place, I rode through Annency and snapped this image:
As you can see from the picture above, rain was threatening. It held off until I was snug in my tent that night and then let loose with a vengeance. When I awoke the next morning, the storm had blown itself out and I was able to continue on my way. The rough plan was to arrive in Thonon-les-Bains on the southern shore of Lake Geneva and take a boat across to Lausanne, but I wanted to avoid the main roads. I looked at the map and selected some small roads that looked promising. I hadn’t bargained on the fact that those roads cross a low range of mountains, but it was still a beautiful ride, just a little harder than I expected.
When I arrived in Thonon-les-Bains, I was informed that the ferry there did not take bikes but that the one at Evian did, so I rode another few miles down the road. At Evian, they told me I was misinformed at Thonon and should have been able to get on any boat I wanted, but since I was here, no problem, hop on the next boat!
It was a short and pleasant ride across the lake to Switzerland. I first met Luc and Val a little over a year ago when they were riding their bicycles around the world and they invited me to visit them at home if I was ever in the region. They are wonderful photographers and you can see photos from their journey here. Their blog is here and it’s worth clicking on even if you don’t read French. Before the boat even docked I was able to recognize the two cyclists waiting in the crowd . They gave me a quick tour of Lausanne and then we rode through the vineyards toward La-Tour-de-Peilz.
My wonderful hosts spent the next few days introducing me to the joys of Swiss cooking, taking me hiking in the mountains to look at wild flowers, and picnicking on the shore of Lake Geneva.
Stay tuned for Vacation pt3!