Vive memor quam sis aevi brevis.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Another resurrection

It's been a winter for restorations.

This time it was an early 80's Merckx Corsa:

She'd been hanging 'round the shed for a few years, ever since i'd picked 'er up from that Really Big Auction Site. Don't know why i bought her, exactly. Maybe it was because she reminded me of the Merckx i didn't keep and have ever since regretted .
I'd tried to move the frameset along at last winter's bike swap, but people said she had "too much patina," and i kind of agreed. 

So off she went to the powder coat works. The colour was determined mostly by the repro decals i had on hand. Many of the components were actually from the long departed first Merckx- the bottom bracket, derailleurs,and wheelset- plus some other parts i'd been collecting for Just Such an Occasion...

The result:

 And it's 1983 again...

The intent was to try to sell her at this year's winter swap meet. There was actually some interest this time, but there were further deal breakers: One fellow objected because it was a respray, another was leery of tubular tyres, yet another insultingly low-balled, and the last decided that the 175mm cranks were too much longer than the 172.5's to which he was accustomed.

Benotto tape that i'd been saving for the right moment...
N.O.S. crank arm of the dreaded 175mm
Tubular tyres and obsolete Campag changer.
                Correct dropout adjusters have since been installed.            
I really cannot complain about my unsuccessful attempts to sell this bike. Sure, a little extra cash flow would've been nice, but i'm going to enjoy riding this fine old machine. It's been too long since she's been on the road.

Thursday, 18 February 2016


Late February. Today the temperature will be above freezing and the roads are generally dry and ice-free. The first brevets of the season are but a few weeks away. The bikes are softly calling my name (can't you hear them?)

And i am sitting on my butt. The more i think about the many small tasks lurking for me downstairs, the more rooted i'm become.

On the workstand hangs my trusty road bike, a c.1982 Specialized Allez, like the ones featured in that classic flick "American Flyers." The bars freshly retaped in blue Velox, awaiting a second coat of shellac, the chain needing a good flush and oiling, perhaps a bottom bracket regreasing, and a thorough cleaning. i started in yesterday and took my sweet time about the retape... maybe it'll be done later today-

or tomorrow.

In a corner leans the beginnings of another project: the newly built alloy-rimmed front wheel for my '71 Phillips 3 speed, the bike i hope to complete in time for the Lake Pepin ride in May. The rear wheel awaits its turn, and i've compiled the shopping list for the rebuild, just trying to decide if i'll bother with a repray or leave it its faded and scuffed team-issue matte black... been hanging fire on that one for almost 3 years.

The big accomplishment of the year was restoring my Mercian to operational status- a project that was about 12 years in the process.

The rest of the fleet awaits attention: Colette, my venerable  PX-10, did receive new tape last week but still needs a good going-over. My go-to bike for general riding around, she's the highest-mileage machine in the stable.

i've never been much of  a hard-charging get-it-done kind of person, but these winter doldrums have really take hold lately. i know that i need to get outside and ride today, but mostly i feel like curling up with a good book, after checking in on the Retrogrouch , Mid-life Cycling, and Lovely Bicycle...

Ah, well... let these be the worst things i have to face today. Time to get moving. See you on the road.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

So, who is this guy?

This grim fellow in my avatar is Giusto Cerutti, walking out the 7th stage of the 1928 Tour de France. Back in the early days of the Tour, a rider was basically on his own for support, meaning he bought and maintained his own gear.  Giusto has fallen off and roached his front wheel and banged up his knee. i haven't been able to learn where along the stage he was at the time, or how he finally got back in, but it is clear that he abandoned after the stage.

Giusto was born 9 March, 1903 in San Giusto Canavese (Piemonte), Italy. He raced professionally from 1927 to 1932. i could find little else about his life, but i seem to recall he rode the Tour more than once. Giusto went on to live a long -and presumably happy- life after his cycling career; he died at the age of 90 on 17 December, 1993, in Torino (Piemonte.)

Giusto Cerutti is one of my heroes from what i consider to be the Golden Age of Cycling. Future posts here may feature some of my other heroes (and villains) of the sport.

If anyone happens to read this and can pass along any further info about Signor Cerutti, please let me know? Graze!

Monday, 8 February 2016

Resurrection of Molly

Back about 1977 or so, i was a  pretty much penniless bike bum in search of a decent track bike. One late winter's day i wandered into the local bike shop and fell in love with a repainted Mercian frameset. The shop in question specialized in repainting and  reselling racers' retired bikes. i was told it had belonged to a local fellow who had been a pursuit specialist. It was a bit tall for me, but i willed myself into parting with $150 and set out to kit out my new track iron.

  It wasn't an ideal machine for track racing- the wheelbase was about 42" and sprinted like a truck (to be fair, I sprinted like a truck.) What i did find though, was it was a fun bike on the road, and soon i was putting more road miles on her than on my road bike.

 Years passed and "Molly" -as i came to name her, eventually was relegated to a hook in the shed, displaced by a series of more aggressive track irons and other road bikes. About a dozen years ago, i grew tired of looking at the peeling Imron on the bike i spent more time moving out of the way than riding. My USCF licence long expired, most of the newer more exotic bikes in the fleet sold off to pay for newer vices and debts, i decided it was time to put her back in service.

  Well, as these projects go, the revival was put on a back burner for another few years. i did finally strip the old paint -only to discover that the frame had a number of battle scars that last painter had skillfully hidden with Bondo. i intended to simply "rattle-can" the frame and be done with it, but never got it together to carry out that idea.

 Finally came the time i was tired of looking at the sad old unpainted dear and decide to go the powder coat route, done -i shouldn't say "on the cheap"- by a local service. It turned out rather well, IMHO.

i managed to find most of the original components in various boxes, almost stalled by the missing seat bolt... try finding a 7/32 whitworth allen bolt! Emails to Derby came to naught, despite the helpful efforts of Mercian's mechs. Somehow, the original bolt was found at the bottom of a bag of random parts in the back of a drawer. Repro decals were located, assembly completed, and last Saturday we took to the street for the first time in over a decade.

 The battle scars were left alone- call it "beausage" - Bondo doesn't play well with powder coat anyway...
   Vincitore lugs:

Wrapover seat stays and a pesky Whitworth bolt:

A few more tweaks to show some retro-grouch cred; Cloth tape & shellac:

Coming soon, a T.A. bottle cage on the 'bars, and maybe a bell. Looking forward to getting back to spring fitness rides in a 68 inch gear... maybe even a brevet. The shakedown ride last weekend reminded me how much fun it is to bomb around on that old war horse. More pics in a later post.

 The stats:
  • Light gauge 531 tubes
  • 60cm, c/c
  • Mercian's Vincitore lugs, wrapover seatstays
  • Campag Pista crankset, 175mm
  • Campag Pista headset, pedals
  • Campag Record Pista hubs, fitted w/QR, 36 spokes, Mavic Module E rims
  • Brooks B-17 saddle on Campag seat pin
  • Cinelli 66/42 bars, 1a stem, 100mm
  • Campag brakeset

Built in 1970, according to the serial number. Go look at the Mercian site at their newest limited edition Path Racer.