Friends, The messages about the Dutch Colnago, de Vlaeminck and so forth remind me of an incident from about 18 years ago that always makes me wonder about high quality bikes from the Netherlands that have been repainted.
First, some disclaimers: - I honestly can't vouch for the veracity of certain details. If you read on, the reason for this will be clear - perhaps someone like Baron Corpuz can tell us if it actually passes the "sanity test". - I'm going to mention certain key figures in the story by name. But they may not have been aware of schemes that were being concocted "on their behalf". - I'm going to describe events as they were presented to me. There's a chance that the fellow who tried to get me involved in this story was not being entirely truthful. In any event, it is a really bizarre story so here goes. (Dale, I consulted with a friend or two and the concensus is that I might as well just post the story and simply be prepared for some questions.)
I have a family friend who, many years ago, moved from New York to the Netherlands under mysterious circumstances. Let's just call him Harry.
One day, Harry called from Amsterdam with a strange tale. It seems that he had become acquainted with the noted Dutch frame builder Peter Serier. A couple of years later, Serier would build the first pro race bikes for Giant but at that point he was building frames for the Dutch Raleigh team.
But Raleigh had decided to terminate their relationship with the squad and for the time being there was no sponsor and therefore no money. Serier, so the story went, had only received partial payment for the frames he had built for them. The important detail, as far as this story is concerned, is that the frames had not yet been painted.
The team wanted the frames delivered, promising to pay up as soon as a new sponsor was found. Since it wasn't clear whether a new new sponsor would appear on the scene, Serier wanted payment in full before delivering the frames. The two sides could not come to an agreement so the ownership of the frames was no longer 100 percent clear. Enter, Harry!
Harry told me that he told Serier, that he - i.e. Harry - could help Serier send the frames to America, where Harry's friend - that would be me - would find buyers for these desirable frames. Harry was not even asking me to supply him with funds in advance. I merely needed to sell the frames for some minimum price and reimburse him in short order. By the way, the details of his agreement with Serier (or if one even existed) were not revealed to me.
Remember, I was told this story on the telephone and after I put down the receiver, I pondered the following: 1) Is this legal? If so... 2) Do I really want to get involved with this sort of scheme? But if I'm willing... 2) How would I sell 10 to 20 frames from a builder who may be fabulous but is basically unknown in the U.S.? Through an advertisement in the back of Velo News? To a local pro-shop whose owner might be familiar with frame builders from Northern Europe? 3) How much can we really get for them, given the circumstances?
Well, about a week later an envelope arrived with photos of Serier in his shop, the unfinished frames, plus some pictures of time trial bikes that Harry claimed were for the Dutch national team. At the very least, this piqued my interest, so I called Amsterdam to learn a bit more about the story. I asked Harry, "If I agree to help you, what exactly will be sent to me?" His reply: "A shipping container with the frames."
Even without having to arrange any advance payments, I realize this could be a giant hassle involving some expense - i.e. you would need to rent a truck, drive up to the port at Baltimore, transport the frames home, unpack them and then store them while trying to find buyers. Then Harry reminded me that the frames could not have any markings that would connect them with the builder or the team. "Okay", I said "but you have to have them primered to protect them from corrosion."
"No problem" said Harry, at which point I added, "You'll be including the Reynolds decals - right?" Harry's reply to this was "No, there can't be any way to connect them with Serier o Raleigh. So no decals."
Well this instantly brought me to my senses and I realized
for so many reasons, I did not want to be involved with this
situation. But I do wonder what happened to the frames. Did
they get sold elsewhere, perhaps to buyers who raced on them
and then repainted them? Or did they simply go to Panasonic
with the rest of the team? (By the way, Harry also seems to
have disappeared but not before getting me involved in a water
bed deal that's too off-topic to mention here.)
Fred Rednor - making an honest living in
Arlington, Virginia, USA