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Old Bikes

timv's picture

I didn't set out to become a vintage bicycle enthusiast. I don't have any youthful cycling glories to recapture, and I'm not looking to collect multi-thousand-dollar Cinellis and Masis from the 60s and 70s. Nothing against that, I just don't have the money or the passion for it. I like old bikes more generically, for being an essential source of modern technology--the Wright brothers were bike mechanics after all--for what they represent as aesthetic objects, and for being an important agent of social change when they first appeared. I kept riding the bikes I had and they got old, and now it turns out that they're classics. (Undistinguished classics, but still...)

I ride around on a bike with a lugged and brazed steel frame, a real leather saddle, glued-on sewup tires, non-aero brake levers with exposed cables, and shifters on the downtube that don't click when you move them. And to me, this is still what a bicycle is. It's simple and long lasting, it works well enough for what I need, and it's very easy to maintain and repair. Eddy Merckx and Jacques Anquetil rode the Tour de France on bikes that were hardly any different and they seemed to get by OK on them. And what's good enough for Eddy Merckx is good enough for me!

All that is in the way of introduction to mentioning the Cirque du Cyclisme, an international event organized by Cycles Deoro's Dale Brown which will take place in Greensboro this coming weekend. Some of you might have gotten one or more emails from Dale about it, depending on which lists you subscribe to. I went to several Cirque events last spring and had a really great time.

I think I recall hearing last year that Dale thought the terrain and conditions of the Sunday morning rides weren't appropriate for skaters. There were some 40mph downhills on bumpy pavement with no shoulders or traffic control on Lake Brandt Road so I can understand that. (One of my water bottles shook free from its holder and escaped into the weeds there.)

This year I'll probably just do the Friday and Saturday rides--the free ones--and keep Sunday open for browsing the swap meet and wandering through the exhibits. I've also signed up for the Saturday seminar session. I enjoyed that a lot last year. Some of the events are already sold out but that one hasn't.

The seminar session isn't cheap ($40 now) but the show/swap is: $2, or free with paid entry to any other Cirque events. If you'd like to build up some enthusiasm for the old 10-speed that's collecting dust in your backyard shed, or if you'd like to learn a little more about this history of some pretty neat machinery, or just see some beautiful rolling metal sculpture, there are worse ways to spend a deuce.

Comments

roadskater's picture

Cirque du Cyclisme and Old Bikes

Thanks for this post, Tim. I just met a fellow this week speaking of the Wright Brothers and riding on a fixed gear track bike, asking me for information on skate boots. I hope he'll join us here and ask some questions.

It turns out I have a classic bike of sorts, and with a few people using these on my street now (I guess gas prices are the reason?), I am more tempted than ever to get it all going again and on the road. I'll probably get over that but we'll see. I think I have a mid-80s Centurion, but i need to go back to that web page you pointed me to when I'm in view of the bike.

The Cirque du Cyclisme sounds like fun and maybe doing the free rides is the way to go, then visiting the show. Not sure what I'll be doing, but this is yet one more way Dale Brown helps the community and of course his store too, somewhat, by sponsoring and participating in so many bicycling events, including welcoming roadskaters in t2t and at his shop rides. He even made an effort to get us involved in a cycling event to do some racing before the bike events, but that didn't work out.

I know you and Craig and probably others who will wander in here have done several bike building projects and lots of skaters who get injured one way or another use their bikes for cross-or-injury-training, so all of that stuff is welcome here.

The more we know about it, the easier it will be for us to know whether it might work for us too, and besides, it's interesting to hear other people's knowledge and experience. I probably need to make some new categories in the topics (forums) section. Feel free to send me feedback or email on this. Thanks!

timv's picture

Centurion

Blake, you might have guessed that I put in "backyard shed" instead of "garage" or "attic" specifically for your sake. But most people seem to have one or more more-or-less-rideable old bikes stashed around somewhere. For the sake of anyone who might happen onto this, here's the Centurion link again:

 

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/centurion/index.html

 

I know they sold a whole lot of those things in the 1980s.

 

Back in the day when all we knew about the Outdoor Life Network was that they'd covered A2A and that we didn't get that channel here, I recall watching a tape of that event and one of the skaters saying that he spent as much time training on his bike as on skates, because cycling was so much easier on his body.

 

And ice speed skaters are quite famous for off-season cycling to stay in shape, and sometimes being quite successful as cyclists (e.g., Connie Carpenter Phinney and Eric Heiden, and lately Chris Witty and Clara Hughes.)

 

For me it's been a good way to mix in a different style of exercise, plus they're fun to play with and there are more bits and pieces to swap around than skates have.

eebee's picture

Old Bikes

That's a good way to describe the severity of Gatorback!  

"There were some 40mph downhills on bumpy pavement ... (One of my water bottles shook free from its holder and escaped into the weeds there.)"

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