[CR]Introduction---I thought I was a bike nut......

(Example: Production Builders:Peugeot)

Date: Sat, 11 May 2002 20:04:42 -0700
From: "Greg & Darlene Pitman" <gpit@ix.netcom.com>
To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
References: <CATFOODTRxoPsIc839x0000256f@catfood.nt.phred.org>
Subject: [CR]Introduction---I thought I was a bike nut......

...but you folks are over the top :) (As Martha would say, "It's a good thing.")

I've been trying to figure out how to compose my first post. My inclination is to relate my life history as it pertains to bikes. I think I saw someone yawn. I have had some interesting experiences that relate to vintage cycles, I have a number of questions and maybe a few bits of trivia that some of you might want to hear. I recently dragged out one of my road bikes and the training rollers and started back to work after a visit to the doc convinced me that a ten year layoff was long enough. In searching for some spare sewups, I stumbled across CR and was elated. There was a picture of a wonderful person from my past, Francisco Cuevas. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I started getting seriously interested in bicycles in 1970 when the craze really started to hit. I was living in Wash. D.C. at the time and remember hitchiking across the Key Bridge to a small shop in VA that sold Peugeots. When I got there I found that there was a 6 month waiting list for UO-8's. I ended up riding home on a Kalkhoff, a Peugeot clone with plastic Simplex and all. I was 20 at the time and soon discovered the C&O canal and the joy of flying up to Great Falls and back. After a summer of riding, the wanderlust got me. I told the girlfriend to sell the bike and left for Boston. Spent the next 2 years there riding, when I could, on a borrowed Atala.

In '73 I moved again to NYC to work construction. A new girlfriend bought me the UO-8 I always wanted for my b-day. I became totally obsessed with bikes, tearing mine apart and re-assembling it constantly. I lost the Peugeot to a guy who broke into my apartment and smacked me in the head with a cold chisel. 11 stitches and no more bike. A couple months later I found a dept. store in NJ doing a clearance on bikes. They had one high-end (relatively speaking) bike, a Fuji Finest. My first bike with tubulars. I was in love. I rode and maintained that bike fervently. Weekend rides to Shelter Island and CT and of course commuting from Greenwich Village to my job in lower Manhattan. My apartment was filled with friends bikes in various states of disassembly. It drove the girlfriend crazy. One day she said. "If you love bikes so much, why don't you get a job in a bike shop?" Wow. It was one of those moments when you hear a celestial choir. Why hadn't I thought of that?

A month later I was working for Denco Distributors, selling bikes in their shop on 14th St. And that was where I met Francisco Cuevas. He was the head mechanic building frames in his spare time. I have nothing but positive memories of Francisco. What a great guy. I got to watch him build frames, talk about heaven for a bike enthusiast. I saved my money, and got Francisco to build me a frame. The cost: $250.00, I think I've still got the receipt. I even got to do some of the filing and finish work on the frame. A friend who built custom choppers painted the frame forest green. Over the next 2 years, every spare dollar I had went into buying components for that bike. My plan was to ride it across Europe. I was transferred to a different store on 96th St. and Broadway to become manager. While there I bought a used Cinelli frame from the early 60's from a customer. This frame had a damaged down tube. Francisco got a Columbus tube and replaced it. I had it painted black and put it away. The Cuevas bike ended up being fitted out with Zeus (I think 2000) components, ti spindle, brakes, crankset and derailleurs, Cinelli bar and stem, and of course, sewups. I had met a guy who was doing distribution for Zeus out of an office in lower Manhattan, I think it was on Stone St. I wish I could remember the guy's name. I believe his first name was Jim. I don't suppose he would be a subscriber to this list? In any case, doing work for him enabled me to equip the frame. Thanks Jim.

About the time I couldn't stand NYC any more, the frame was finished. Small change in plans, no Europe trip, instead, I decided to ride to CA. Yes folks I rode across the US on sewups. East to West. I didn't claim to be smart, did I? Once in CA I got a job with Cycles Peugeot doing warehouse work and then phone order sales in their offices in Compton. After 18 months of that, I partnered with a guy with a small shop, bought him out and ran my own small shop for 7 years. But when marriage and a family loomed, I abandoned my love for more security and benefits and became a union pipefitter, which I still am today after 17 years. For years I rode the Cinelli, which I had built up with a single speed freewheel. The Cuevas I stripped down and had painted by CyclArt. Absolutely beautiful metallic anthracite gray with authentic decals, what a great job they did. Reassembled it with Campy NR parts. My new wife-to-be we found an early 70's era Holdsworth Team frame that we built up with the Zeus parts from the Cuevas, Ti spindle and all. The Cinelli was destroyed one beautiful sunny California day. I was doing 30 in a well marked bike lane, when a woman who was busy talking to her kids made an abrupt left hand turn in front of me. I cleared the car and survived, but the frame and fork were ruined. The insurance check bought a new Peugeot PZ-10D from 1981 or 82. That's what I'm currently riding on the rollers. They are Artisan, by the way, I sold my Weyless rollers before leaving NY along with my Fuji Finest. Sure wish I still had them.

I would love to find some of my old NY riding companions here. I suppose that's a pipe dream. I will set up some pics of the Cuevas and the Holdsworth to link to sometime soon if anyone is interested. They are both stored away currently. I can't remember the number on the Cuevas frame. I'll have to drag it out and look. I have some odd chainrings for Zeus and Stronglight kicking around.

I also have some questions that I'll post soon.

For anyone still reading, thanks. I know that this is mostly of interest to me, but maybe someone out there has a question I could answer.

Greg Pitman
Rancho Cucamonga, CA