I've been pretty fortunate working in the bike industry. Met a lot of great folks on both sides sides of the counter and from every continuously inhabited continent. I've also gotten to work on a lot of great bikes. In some ways, that's where the joy of working at a work stand with tools at the ready is for me. What constitutes a great bike? Some might say a frame from Richard Sachs or Dario Pegoretti is a great bike. They wouldn't be wrong. They are great bikes and I've considered it an honor to work on and build frames from both into bikes.
Another great bike to work on is the 18 year old Jamis hybrid that a local brought in. It had been neglected for years when someone gave it to him. It didn't work. Chain was rusted. Tires were disintegrating. Cables were frozen in the housing. And I had a $100 budget to work with. After my ride a few days ago, I stopped in the Inverness Park Market for a breakfast sandwich. The owner of the bike and his wife work there (and they work other jobs in the area to make ends meet for them and their three kids). Both he and his wife were super happy about the bike. They're both spinning around on it as well as their kids. It's a great bike.
Other bikes that are great to work on are ones that get used above and beyond what normal folks dream of subjecting their bikes. I'm talking the Tour Divide. Three years ago, I did some work (wheel building, if I recall) for an area guy who was going to tackle the race in the grand depart. He finished in 7th place. About the same time, I sold a cross bike to a Bay Area resident, Arthur, who a few months later said he wanted to race the Tour Divide on the cross bike I just built for him. I told him "No, you don't want to do that. You want full sized 29" wheels and maybe a suspension fork. You don't want to do that on a cross bike." The bug bit him hard and for the past several years, he's been steadily preparing for the Tour Divide 2016 which departed Banff, Canada five days ago.
Several weeks ago, Arthur brought his bike in to have the front wheel rebuilt with a new dynamo hub, new bottom bracket, cables - basically, it was time to get the bike race ready. Preparations done. Bike ready. Go! It's now 5 days later and Arthur is out there making very good headway. As I wrote this, he's at mile 645, a bit past though Helena, MT on his way to Antelope Wells, NM - 2,768.4 miles from the start.
That was a great bike to work on too. Arthur's Tour Tracker GPS locator information is at this link. Like I said, fortunate.
Since I'm running out of jerseys in the shop, I opened a new order window at Voler. Both the orange with black horizontal stripe and the black with the orange/blue vertical stripe kits are available. It's possible to mix/match, but in order to do so you'd need to enter two orders on the Voler order page. You can order at the links below until June 26 with expected ship date of July 29. The sizing info on Voler's site is very helpful. If you find you straddle a size, my recommendation is to size down. It's stretchy cycling gear and you want it to fit on the snug side.
The Orange/Horizontal Kit
The Black/Vertical Stripe Kit
Welcome to the Voler Online Ordering System
team has decided to use the Voler Custom Online Order System for
collecting and processing your cycling apparel order. Please follow the
steps below to place your individual order for inclusion in the overall
Click on “LOGIN” to enter your Login/Billing Info. Click on “Create
Account” to save the information and to create your new User ID and
Password. You will automatically be directed to the home page for your
team order. If you are a returning customer, please use your original
Login and Password.
Click on “Begin Shopping" to gain access to the orderable products
page. To place items in your shopping cart, click on the item you want
to order, then the options you want to select, then the “Add to cart”
button. You can choose to “View Your Bag” or “Continue Shopping” after
adding each item. Repeat these steps for each item you want to order.
After placing the last item you want to order in your shopping cart,
click on “View Your Bag” to display the items. Carefully review the
items and make any necessary modifications or deletions. Because each
item is custom built, refunds and exchanges will not be accepted. After
you have confirmed your order is correct, click on “Proceed to Checkout”
to complete the secure checkout process by entering your credit card
After you have completed the secure checkout process, an Order
Confirmation will automatically be displayed and e-mailed to you for
After the order deadline date has passed, you will no longer be able to
access the order site. If you have not completed the checkout process
for your order by this date, any items in your cart will be removed. The
Order Deadline and the Order Ship Date are displayed on the order
homepage. The Ship Date is the date that your order will be shipped from
you for your order. If you have any questions, please call 800-488-6537
and ask for assistance from a Voler Customer Service Representative, or
send us an email at email@example.com.
I'll also be ordering for the shop, but will only be ordering the basics - jerseys, shorts, vest. This is your chance to order anything from the Voler shop. Now go crazy!
I'm not really sure how I fell into this. I suppose it's all because of a broken spoke in 2009. Since I replaced that broken spoke on Tom Hardy's Sachs seven years ago, I've gotten invites to the Dino rides - some I've been able to attend, some not. When I have been able to make it, the quality of the ride and the riders is top shelf. Tom encouraged me to attend last year, but timing wasn't quite right.
This year, however, it was a different story. I had a window of opportunity to close the shop for the weekend and head down to Paso Robles for Eroica California. What may have played a bigger role in my decision to ride was the recent acquisition and build of an '85 Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra. A few rides on this prior to the event had me fall in love with the ride of this bike and really want to take this on the 87 mile Eroica route - 87 miles, 25 of them dirt, and 7300' of climbing. And with the exception of the puncture at about mile 80 (which I still have no idea what caused it), the bike performed incredible. Well, the puncture and, according to the photo of my bike at the mile 40 rest stop, my saddle went from level to nose up, but I never noticed it until I looked at my bike leaning against a wall after the ride was over.
The weekend also had some great surprises. Masi Bikes, my old employer, was a sponsor of the event and I got a chance to catch up with old friends and co-workers. The Dinos were to meet up at the start area for a 7:00 a.m. start. As I rolled up, I saw another friend I hadn't seen in 10 years. Chris Watson, one of the owners of Arundel was there! I've known Chris for almost 20 years. He was a rep for Haro/Masi before starting Arundel while I was at Haro/Masi in product development. Over the years, we connect via a phone call or email about once a year or so. I was really glad to get a chance to ride with Chris. There were also a few other guys on the line to ride with the Dinos who, well, how exactly does one describe their influence on the American racing scene of the '70s/'80s? How 'bout this: past winners of the Nevada City Classic, US National Championship, Red Zinger Classic, Pan American Games, Olympians, races too numerous to fully list, and the only American to win the Giro d'Italia. Yeah, I was going on an 87 mile ride with Andy Hampsten, George Mount, Mark Pringle, Tom Ritchey...and about a dozen more high-quality, riders who laid the foundations for modern bike racing in the US. And they're all super nice guys and still are great riders. One of those rides that leave you buzzed for days afterwards. The roads, scenery, and general cohesiveness of the group on the road were also top-notch and contributed greatly to a fantastic weekend.
There was one point on the ride as I was rolling along next to and talking with Rick Pepper from Eleven Gear that the surreal aspect of the ride really became evident. We had been out front rolling through a beautiful country road for a while. Wondering who was behind us, I put my right hand on top of the bars, straightened up and turned to look back. On our wheels were Andy Hampsten and George Mount. Yeah, it was an okay day on the bike. Thanks, for the ride, Dinos.
The actual Masi Dennis Christopher rode in "Breaking Away"
The early part of the climb up Kiler Canyon Rd. (photo by Tom Ritchey)
Yours truly at the top of Kiler Canyon Rd. (photo by Tom Ritchey)
Rolling along a dirt road with (L-R) Larry Shields, Mark Pringle, Chris Watson with red stripe cap, Tom Hardy in the Brooklyn jersey, Rick Pepper in red, Andy Hampsten in pink (naturally).
One of the many dirt roads.
My Merckx after 40 miles. Seat went a bit nose up, but I never noticed.
Lunch stop - burritos and margaritas
Double paceline rolling down CA 1 to Cayucos. In Cayucos, we pulled up to the food stop at the pier and friends Jim and Cathy Haagen-Smit were standing there with other friends of theirs - small world.
Just some of the super cool bikes on the ride: Guerciotti, Masi, Colnago...
Tom Hardy's Gios
Andy Hampsten's team 7-11 bike
Yet another dirt road
Mark Pringle on his Colnago
Chris Watson - thanks for the day of riding, Watson!
Yes, another dirt road!
Tom Ritchey taking a photo - of Chris Watson
The dirt road climbs were severe enough plenty of folks were walking, hampered by the gearing of their vintage race bikes. The 28 I fit in combination to my 42t ring gave me enough of a low gear to stay on the bike up the climbs.
I'm not really a philosophical guy always looking for meaning in life. If I'm feeding myself every day, feeling comfortable in my ability to live sparsely (albeit with a pretty big collection of bikes), then I feel I'm doing ok. I have a love/hate relationship with the social media I maintain, most of which centers around my business, which is bikes, with the occasional music related post about the two radio shows I do. Lots of pictures of objects, few of people. In some ways, I feel that privacy is important and people pictures take some of that privacy away. My brother is a photo-journalist and probably feels the exact opposite - if it's in a public setting, it's fair game.
So, what's my point? I read today's All Hail The Black Market post, as I do each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and knew exactly what Stevil was writing about. I like taking photos. Have since I was a kid and in my middle school, there was a darkroom. I doubt it's still there, shame. I used to have binders full of photos and slides. Now I have a flickr page, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr... I think that's it. In some ways, it's all too much and is a bit overwhelming to manage and maintain along with running my business - which is two pronged with a retail shop and a brand of frames to manage. Yeah, that keeps me busy.
I like bikes. Mostly, I like bikes for their simplicity. But even that's changed. Bikes are no longer simple. They are now made with such a level of complexity that they are obsolete in the amount of time it took to properly age a tubular tire. As the level of technology in bikes and their accessories (does everyone GPS their rides?) increases, the more I am drawn backwards to less and less complicated bikes.
Case in point, I recently built up a 1985 Eddy Merckx with Campagnolo Super Record (not that Super Record) and shod it in tubular tires. No part on the bike is new, except for tires, cables/housing, spokes & nipples. Every part is from the 80s. And guess what? The bike is quickly becoming a huge favorite of mine. It's huge fun to ride. Compared to a modern bike, the shifting is slow, the brakes require thought and distance to stop, and forget about trying to shift when out of the saddle. But damn, I love riding this thing. I like riding for the sake of riding.
This started off more as a post about being hamstrung by all the pulls from the social media I maintain, which in a very large part are maintained solely to manage my business. Larger thoughts go on the blog. Links to the blog and some bike photos go on the Facebook page. Photos of bikes and bike rides go on Instagram with a few words. What's In The Stand photos go on the Tumblr page. Rules. I need some rules to maintain my life. To make sense of it all. Rules in my life to maintain my focus. And then when it all gets too much, I go on a bike ride. No cell phone (don't own one). No connectivity. But I will take a camera because if there's something interesting, I'll shoot it and share it and, in some way, work it to help promote my shop and brand so that I can keep on going on bike rides and feeding myself.
I'll be gone this weekend at the Eroica California. No computer, no phone, just a 1985 Eddy Merckx road bike and a camera. Three day recharge. And don't try to reach me now for the next several hours because I'll be out riding the Merckx.
Technically, it's still Monday. Almost over, but it's still Monday so I'll squeeze this in. Several months ago, I got an email from someone saying that with my new Merckx tribute frames, I should also have a genuine Merckx. (If it was you who sent the message, let me know because I can't for the life of me find the old messages.) I replied that it would be nice, but when would a 64cm or 65cm vintage Merckx ever come up for sale? Turns out that happened not long after I sent that reply because he sent a message saying that there was a big Merckx on ebay that very moment. Not really desiring a project bike, I threw down a very modest bid and won. I want between thinking that was great to thinking it wasn't so great. Great because I picked up a really sweet 65cm Merckx. Not so great because now I had to build it up. I had a few parts and the hunt for just the right parts was really easy. The parts I wanted just seemed to be there on ebay when I looked. And they were all reasonable. Even picked up a 180mm NR/SR crankset. Pretty much a Super Record build, which seemed appropriate for this 1985 Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra.
So, now what to do with it? Ride it of course. And then take it down to Paso Robles, CA for the Eroica California event weekend after next. Wasn't easy getting the time to build a personal bike while all the new frames were arriving, but I got the tires glued on today and will get out on it ASAP.
The frame has just the right level of used, but still in great shape look about it.
I fit it with a Shimano Dura Ace 13-28 because I have a bunch of Shimano cogs and bodies left over from years gone past and the 28 will help with the 85 miles and climbing on the Eroica.
Simplex Retrofriction shifters. One of the few parts I've had for years waiting for just the right frame.
(What's playing: Johnny Winter Highway 61 Revisited)
The new frames arrived last week and, damn, do they look great! I've been busy prepping and shipping frames so haven't had a chance to put up the new info. I updated the frames and get the goods pages with a bit of new info, but since I'm also working on a brand new website, I didn't want to get too involved in posting info. Should be enough info. If you're looking for more info on something drop me a line and I'll get you much better info.
Basic new info on the Monster Cross frames is as follows:
New Pacenti Paris-Brest-Paris fork crown. Sizing is in 2cm increments from 52cm to 64cm (old sizing was in 3cm increments).
Head tubes are a bit taller to reduce the number of spacers.
What else??? Oh, the crimp on the chainstay is way better looking and still has good clearance for road compact cranks and big fat 45mm+ tires.
And the colors! Oh the colors! Pink and British Racing Green
Price stays the same at $595 + applicable sales tax and shipping.
The new road frames also knocked my socks off. They got the same 2cm frame size increment change from 52cm to 62cm. Still made to fit big fat 33 1/3mm road tires with long reach 47mm-57mm brake calipers. And the new orange is a great match to the old Eddy Merckx Molteni orange. And the new Merckx style panel graphic just knocks my socks off. Yeah, I know. I wrote "knocks my socks off" twice (that's three), but dang, I can't wait to build up one of these for myself. Price stays the same at $595 + applicable sales tax and shipping.
Before I get too far into this post, a reminder that frames are on the way. The vessel carrying the frames docked in Los Angeles this morning. ETA to Oakland where it will unload my/your frames is March 17. However, I believe the ETA for arriving in Los Angeles was March 10 and it's the 8th today, so it may arrive early in Oakland. Fingers crossed.
There's also time to get deposits in or simply purchase a frame outright. There are some sizes/colors that are sold out or are in limited supplies. If you're on the fence, it might be time to come on down. There's still good availability on all sizes of road frames, but some of the cross frames are sold out. Here's what's in limited supply for cross frames:
52cm Pink - one available
58cm Pink - one available
64cm British Racing Greed - sold out
64cm Pink - one available
All other sizes/colors have at least 2 or more available.
And, I do have one 56cm current model cross frame available in Dazzling Blue. (3/20/16 - sorry, this frame is gone) Someone opted to change the order for this frame to one of the new frames, so it's still available for $535 including shipping. The only other sizes of current cross frames available at the sales price are 50cm and 65cm. Road frames are available at that same price in 50cm (light blue), 59cm (orange), and 62cm (light blue and orange).
Now, on to dodging rain storms. I've been super lucky to maintain my regular riding schedule and not get drenched by the rains that have been continually rolling across Marin. Sure, there have been periods of some spitting rain, but not the soakers that we've had at night or when I've been in the shop working. There was that one commute back home, though, that challenged the water proofedness of my commuting rain gear, but my commute is only 5 minutes. But in that 5 minutes, it dumped. The fenders on the road bike have been great when riding on rain soaked roads.
Yesterday's ride consisted of starting off in showers, followed by sunshine, headwinds, threatening skies, and finished off with 10 miles of a 15+mph tailwind. And then a 10 minute soaking within minutes after getting back home. It's all good and I'm glad the back/neck pain that cause a riding hiatus has not returned beyond the normal "pain" associated with riding.
Pt. Reyes Station/Tomales/Chileno Valley/Wilson Hill/Marshall Wall/Pt. Reyes Station loop.
Laguna Lake in Chileno Valley
Top of Wilson Hill looking towards Petaluma
Top of Wilson Hill with an encouraging sign
Verdant hills, puffy clouds, and sun in the appropriately named Verde Canyon
Lone cow on the climb up the Marshall Wall
Obligatory photo op on top of the Marshall Wall
Tomales Bay and Inverness Ridge from the Marhsall Wall
(What's playing: Peter Frampton Do You Feel Like We Do)