It's hard to imagine that another year has passed without adding a Cambio Corsa-equipped bike to my stable. Otherwise it's been a good year, bike-wise, adding the 1947 Automoto, 1963 Legnano "Roma", and 1962 Atala "Pro" to collection of funbikes.
It's been too cold to ride, so I've spent the past week reassembling my old crit bike, a custom 1985 Paramount. It was among the last (perhaps THE last) fully-custom bikes to come from PDG, with any color/geometry/chrome/braze-ons etc you could wish for. My bike is SLX with full Campy braze-ons, painted Dupont Sunfire "Violet Metallic" (deep burgundy with tiny metalflake). Chrome on the headlugs, crown, drop-out faces, rear brake bridge, seatstay caps, right chainstay, and bottle bosses. Pinstriping is medium blue... subtle from a distance. A real beauty in it's day. The paint still looks good, despite some scratches and chipping.
Super Record derailleurs, crank, pedals, post, hubs, and shift levers with the extra little switch to drop the chain onto a built-in chain hangar. Modolo "Pro" brakes. Blue Super Champion "Arc-en-Ciel" rims. Cinelli "Exa" bars (the hexagonal-section kind). Dark blue Benotto ribbon.
I equipped it as close to it's original configuration as possible, abandoning the useless (read "convertible") Cinelli 1-R stem for something which actually holds the bar in place.
This was my primary bike back when I was making a living winning cash primes in Cat.1/2 crits, so the bike had a relatively rough life.
Two months after I originally built this bike, during a dawn ride, a late 1970s Monte Carlo passed me on an empty 6-lane boulevard, pulled in front of me and stopped. I was looking down at the bike, enjoying the sparkle of all that chrome, and only saw the rear bumper come into view before I hit at about 17MPH. Bent the fork, minimally tweaked the downtube, and the nearly-indistructable Modolo brake lever dented the corner of the trunk in about 3 inches. I landed on the roof, a little sore, but otherwise unhurt - just embarassed.
A year later - I was on this bike when the corner guards allowed a blind, nearly deaf elderly man walk into our path during a crit in Anderson, Indiana. It was in a right turn, I was 5th in line and never saw the guy until his face was about 5 inches from mine. I hit him at full speed with my right shoulder into his torso, did a 270 degrees turn in the air, landed roughly on both wheels, still upright, still moving, pointed into the barriers (made a left instead of a right!). I plowed through a narrow gap between hay bails, hay flying everywhere, people scattering in all directions, leapt the curb, slowed to walking pace and turned right, down the sidewalk. A few hundred meters further I jumped off the sidewalk onto the tail-end of the pack. I returned to the front, finished well, then collapsed after the finish with a painful partial separation of the shoulder. I kid you not. That's what adrenaline rush is like.
The old man got up and walked away.
Same bike, same city, a year later... I'm in a solo breakaway a few laps from the finish when a police woman steps onto the course to do some crowd control... she never saw me coming. I hit her at about 25MPH, sent her flying what seemed like 50 yards, sent me tumbling into the legs of the announcing stand. I was scraped and bruised, but walked away. The police woman spent a night in the hospital with fractured ribs, broken collar bone, concussion, and a cool "OLODOM" bruise written backwards on her forearm.
This bike also took hits from behind, as I tried to avoid big crashes in big fields. Seems like there was always someone behind me using off-brand brakes, unable to slow-down, swearing as they plowed into my back wheel, bending the seatstays further and further forward.
They have a very graceful bow to them now, kinda pretty really.
After all these misadventures, you'd think I'd be a bit hesitant about riding that bike anywhere except on a trainer. Actually, the frame has been on a hook since 1989. But all my other bikes are finished now, and it was finally time to make amends.
This is the bike I rode 450 miles in four days (100/100/100/150 - still a personal best).
This is the bike I used to ride to Oxford when I was courting my ex-wife.
This is the bike on which I had some of my best races.
This was going to be my "retirement" bike, the first time I gave-up racing.
Riding that bike today, bundled in multiple layers of wool against the sunny/windy/20F weather, rolling down into Panther Run Valley, I got to remember all those little moments... the twilight rides home from Wednesday night time trials, the hot summer afternoons parked for a swim beneath Huston Road bridge, stopping pick black raspberries on a warm June morning, napping mid-ride beneath the Sycamore trees in the quiet little park south of Oxford.
This was a good day to ride, despite the cold.