I wasnít too sure what I could possibly say that would interest others when Richard asked me to consider getting Smoked Out but itís been a great way for me to reach back to many of the great times Iíve had being a ďbike tragicĒ
Iím not too far off from having 40 years in the sport & am actually have more enthusiasm for cycling now than ever before. I came to cycling via the British club scene that was well established with the senior members bringing the young ones to the sport properly. They helped with proper fit, gearing & most had bikes & parts to help us get going. Our club did all the typical things of the time. During the winter we had weekly roller races with a set of 4 connected to a clock. We also had the typical club run with everyone limited to a 66Ē fixed gear & mudguards mandatory. I remember lots of 100 milers, we called them tons, in the rain with our capes that stretched over the handlebars. The racing was also seasonal with spring low/med gear or 2up time trials. We had many club races so could actually cycle to 4-5 races a weak during the summer.
The fall brought on hill climbs & cross. None of us could afford cross specific stuff so we were quite resourceful modifying road bikes & old soccer boots were the best we could do for shoes. I still have my old cross bike with the braze ons put on in shop class. It even has a single rear brake stop going through the seatpin, just like Albert Zweifel.
It was working on frames & parts that sparked my interest in framebuilding. My mates & I would travel to London & the local builders to have frames made or resprayed. We typically needed to keep our frames multiple seasons & would have them painted during the winter when everyone was on their hack bikes. I had a friend tell me of an opening at Witcombís & skipped school for a visit. Unfortunately with so many folks coming from the US for almost nothing it became apparent I couldnít live on whatever wage they could offer. Not long after that my parents moved to the US & I tagged along after not having any luck finding work. I raced for a couple years but it was difficult with so much travel to races & so much training compared to just racing more often. I did spend a couple years away from cycling but came back when triathlons and then mountain biking came to popularity. I also started modifying/repairing frames again on the side.
A few years ago I happened to come across a picture of a JP Weigle bike using some new lugs from Kirk Pacenti. That was about the most beautiful bike I had seen in a long time and the thought of building bikes was once again stuck in my mind. I still think of Kirkís Artisan lug as one of the most important new products of the last 10 years. I was having a conversation with a friend about what I was going to do for work because I was losing my job due to a reorganization. I told him I had always wanted to build bikes & was already starting to get the parts necessary to build a frame. He actually told me that if I ever decided to sell bikes that he wanted to be the first customer. He waited two years but did eventually get the bike.
Even though I havenít built many bikes yet, I feel progression with each one and am proud they are being ridden and even raced hard. Doubtful Iíll be completely satisfied with any that I build but thatís the ultimate goal.