With Velo Rendezvous III rapidly approaching (late entry fee kicks in September 26!) here's an account of last year's hijinks for those of you who have never attended a West Coast version of Dale's Le Cirque before.
========================================================================== Brian Baylis / Report on Velo Rendezvous II, Part one
I will again recount the events of one of our Classic Bike gatherings from the twisted perspective of a true retro-grouch. It cannot be overstated how wonderful it is to be able to put faces with names from the CR list. I think Wayne Bingham (official event photographer and all around nice guy) was the most affected by this. He'd seen Chuck and I and a few others back East; but many of the names and faces came together for the first time. I'm sure the first thing that came to Waynes' mind was " Holy crap, all of these Californians are just as ugly as Chuck and Brian!" Suck it up and get over it Wayne; that myth about all the "beautiful people" living in So. Cal. is rubbish! Wait until Sunday, a few more ugly mugs are comming into town then.
I will begin with my arrival home on Sunday nite. I'd been away from my "little universe" in La Mesa for four days. I had a fantastic time, rode my bikes, trikes, and tandem and had several fine meals with some of the worlds' nicest freeks........I mean bicycle enthusiests! But I was anxious to return home to my cats and dog (dalmations don't like being lonesome; and the house sitter just ain't "daddy"). I figured they would be glad to see me and were beginning to wonder if I was ever comming home again. As I approached my house and began to back into my driveway I realized my trike was still on the roof of my car so I had to stop and take it off to not risk damage. I walked the trike up near my door and I hear this noise like a loud radio comming from the interior and I smell smoke! I didn't see the house sitters car anywhere so I had figured she wasn't there. I back my car to the parking place and enter my house from my side door. I burst into the dining room and there's a poker game in progress, music is rattleing the windows, I'm gagging on heavy cigar smoke, beer bottles are everywhere! "What the hell is going on?!" I bellowed. Silence...........my cats and dog just sat there, as you would expect; afterall they can't talk. Apparently they didn't miss ME!
My day began Thurs. morning as I hit the road about 8:45am. I swung by Old Town in San Diego and picked up John Pergolizzi before getting on the highway towards Pasadena. I was armed with a full assorted dozen of Krispy Kreme donuts, including everything EXCEPT the chocolate covered Boston creme ones that John likes! DOH! Remarkably, he downed two or three in spite of my carelessness. The drive went well and we made it to Chucks' place where I ditched the tandem and the trike. I didn't want to drive around town all day looking like the circus had just rolled in.
We hooked up with Maurice and we went back to the hotel to change for a bike ride. We went out for the standard ride and had a good time as we normally do. John got to ride my Montelatici on it's maiden voyage; just like last year when he rode my Millinimum before I had ridden it. If a bike can handle a "shake down criuse" from Pergolozzi then it's likely it will last another 100 years. We went to dinner Thurs. evening by which time we had hooked up with Wayne and Alan Schaffer. We ate at Gordon Birsch. Their offerings for beer glasses was "interesting" in that there is small and "a size a little bigger". Wayne wisely wimped out, as I immeadiately realized when the other three glasses show up. Chuck, Maurice, and I got the little bit bigger ones. OUCH! I wasn't planning on taking a BATH it that thing; I just wanted a Brewski! I think Chuck and Maurice killed theirs but I was only capable of about 3/4. Had a Gelati after dinner and then we all headed for sleepsville.
Around 1:30am after awakening with a headache, I sweated and squirmed in bed with the "chills" until it was time to head for the john and produce a technicolor yawn for the procalin gods. I felt much better and finally dropped off to sleep. Whew! By Fri. morning I was ready for coffee and donuts; the breakfest of champions. I prepared for the Framebuilders Love Fest and the ride afterwards and we left for the park.
Fri. morning was awsome and by the time we got there people were starting to gather for the first official meeting of the Velo Rendezvous. I had the Marios' personal built Masi, there was Chucks' Wizard #16 there, there was a fresh homebuilt frame from a Paterek class, several early and modern Peter Johnson frames, a brand new Peter Weigle frame and a new Steve Rex frame both privided by Patrick Brady from Asphault Magazine. Just after we began the proceedings a Phantom Person appeared from the ethers. I had begun gabbing about bikes and whatnot and I looked behind me and suddenly a figure was standing there. He looked at me as if I knew him and in his hands were a set of lugs. When the light bulb went on I nearly gasped. If was Richard Moon! The look on my face must have been priceless. We looked at several bikes up close and personal and witnessed first hand some of the genius that is, and was even at age 18 or 19, Peter Johnson. We gazed upon early work from framebuilder Ed Litton, who I was meeting for the first time in person that morning. During most of this Richardo La Luna (as I call him) was quietly standing in the background holding some finished lugs. He presented them for us to examine which was a treat for all in attendance. The bike will eventually belong to listmember Tom Rawson. As we checked out the lugs a question or two came up and the Phantom had vaporized. Shortly afterwards as I was engaged in conversation with whomever and again as if some kind of wraith; La Luna appeared out of thin air with a complete bike he had built for himself. It featured custom made stainless steel lugs and quite a few other magnificent details that pretty much de-socked many persons there. Lucky for everyone the phrase isn't "blows your underwear off"! Overall we had a great time and checked out a multitude of snazzy bikes both modern and vintage. We disbanded and were set to reassemble for a ride shortly thereafter. I went to Chucks place to pick up the tandem so that Karen Shuckman and I could terrorize the ride on the "freight train". I like my Hetchins tandem and many commented on the nice blue color (exactly like Colnago "electric blue"), but it does have too much fork rake (3 1/4"!!) to be a really "dicey" bike. My other tandem steers much better and goes faster but this bike is good for fun rides and shows. We had a blast on the ride as usual and there were about 30 members present. You can always count on a fun time when Pergolizzi is on the road with you. He also has that special New York City way of communicating with motorists who are not paying attention to the road. Just imagine "The incredable Mr. Limppet" on a bicycle. It's priceless. And he's always there near the end to stir things up and spearhead the bolt for the finishline. I missed my chance to outsprint him on the trike on the Sat. ride by cutting through the parking lot, which I now regret.
I will begin with an accounting of Fri. nite dinner in part two. Food fights are hard to accurately describe with words; but I will do my best with my limited grasp of our language. It still amazes me after all of the dinner gatherings we've had during the events of the last few years that some people forget to bring a plastic poncho with them. Would you sit in the front row at a Gallager concert without one; I think not! People, get a clue!
Velo Rendezvous II, Part two
I guess everyone got my last one except for me. Sorry for the goof up; I'm not sure what happened.
To backtrack just a little bit, I'd like to also mention that during our examination of the frames and bikes on Fri., there was another listmember present who had built his own frame and was riding it during the event. That would be New Zealander David Benson. He's a very pleasant gentleman who had built this Rene Herse style demountable frame just before comming here for the event. We had a demonstration of the demountable feature and I was very impressed with both the work and the concept. I'll be building a demountable just to have done it some time; and having seen Davids' bike was inspirational. We had fun on the rides as I recall also. David was in the frey at all times. He came there to ride!
The Friday ride was also the first time Karen had been on the back of a tandem. I gave her a few basic pointers on how the tandem thing works and she performed perfectly the whole time. Imagine my surprise when she stood up on a short climb for the first time as we accelerated over the inclines. Once a tandem team becomes "unified" it is common for both riders to stand and climb together to maintain speed on the climb. When only the stoaker stands in must be done smoothly and while maintaing a centered position over the frame; otherwise the pilot will experience some steering of the bike by the rear rider. Karen stood up gracefully to the point that I actually hadn't noticed the move until I felt something on my back. Then I knew. Most tandem pilots will get my "point" if they have ridden with female stoakers. ;-o! The ride was great fun as I previously mentioned and it's hard to describe how cool it is to sail through the back streets of the Pasadena area in a group of 30 or so people on vintage bikes. It really is amazing. Riding like that tells me that everyone rides similarly regardless of where they're from. When we all get together we have a blast. Especially when there's a slight hill every so often!! ;-)
Dinner Friday was at Kathleens; they had a wide varity of foods to choose from and the room was big enough for the large group that had assembled by Fri. evening. Stevan Thomas and Matteo Brandi joined us for the first time that evening. Having had a fight with my dinner the night before I opted for the fruit medely; half of which I took back to the hotel to have for breakfast. That worked for me. We all ate then seperated to retire for the evening. I suspect a few others stayed up later at the Marriot; just to experience the wonder that is "Josh". Pretty funny story that Mark Petry and Karen can relate if I recall. Pergolizzi was probably there for that one, too.
Sat. morning. Absoulutly a beautiful day in Pasadena. I'm looking forward more to the ride I think than the symposium. One of the best times of this gathering is the morning of the symposium when the next larger expansion of attendees happens and people have bikes everywhere and we're meeting the new faces for the first time.
The symposium starts off with Dennis Crowley (?) who gives us a brief history of bicycles in Pasadena. It turns out Pasadena was the end of the rail line that originated in Chicago; one of the largest bike producing cities in the US. The result was a tremendous influx of bicycles into Pasadena. In about 1900 there were 15 bike shops in Pasadena!
Next Sterling Peters gave us a short slideshow and an account of the early years of the Tour De France. It was most certainly a different event then as compared to now; but not altogether. Back in the early days it appears that local rivalries and local heros raised lots of emotions (and betting, etc.) amongst the spectators following the race thru the newspapers. Going through rival towns could be hazardous. Sometimes a "disguise" was neccessary to get out of town on the next stage of the race. Bikes dissappeared. The early Tour De France sounds a lot like the "Wild West". Holy Smokes!
I followed Sterling into the flypaper. I attempted to address the subject of "Counterfeit vs Replica" as related to our interest in Vintage Bikes. The topic is actually rather expansive and it could take quite a while to cover the whole topic completely. We just dipped our toe into the Hetchins trademark "debate" and the existance of a "Hetchins" which everyone who has seen it (including myself, Jim Cunningham, Michael Kone, Joe Bell, and Jimmy Thomson) feels is an unauthorized counterfeit. The frame was actually discussed on the list a while back (maybe even a year or so ago) and the group collectivly dubbed it the "Magnum Bogus" which was to appear on the frame once refinished so that it would not be confused as a "genuine" Hetchins. The worksmanship on this particular frame was sub standard in the condition it appeared when we all saw it. It also had things that authorized Hetchins wouldn't have on them. I also recall that the patterns for the lugs were wrongly perportioned as compared to an original. It was an odd bike. It would have taken a tremendous amount of work to make this thing look decent and still it was not well made at all. We kicked that around a bit and went on to the counterfeit Confente that was on loan for this topic. It was evident that the effort was half hearted but intended to decieve none the less. Interesting frame to look at but we all wondered; why bother? There's very little point in counterfeiting frames, it doesn't make sense.
The replica on the other hand is presented as homage to the original but is clearly marked as not original. In my case I added a point to the Nervex seat lug which no original I've ever seen has. That was to distinguish the frame in addition to the markings. The BB shell is also English threads which should tip off any collector to the fact it's not Italian made. The reason for taking the time to clearly seperate the two is not to prevent my replica from being mistaken as an original Masi; it's to make sure an original Masi isn't mistaken for a Baylis Replica. ;-).
I don't see the "Replica" concept as a market; it's just a personal outlet for myself to build a few "historically significant" bikes as replicas in my collection. I intend to build the Fausto Coppi Pokkerissimo track bike, the Eddy Merckx hour record bike, and a few others. If I don't find my old Pogliaghi track bike I may build that someday also. They will eventually end up as odd one-of-a-kinds in the distant future. Who knows if anyone will find them interesting.
Lunch followed which consisted of deli style goodies. I think everything got chomped by the time lunch was over.
Next up was long time bike racer and lifetime Swhcinn employee Dave Staub. He began racing at age 13 in 1953. He lived in San Francisco so there was in fact a racing faction there at the time. He grew up and raced with many old timers and a few other young riders his own age. There were very few racers in the US that weren't from the few "pockets" of cycling in the US at the time. San Francisco, LA, Chicago, St. Lewis, and New York I think were the primary centers.
Dave told us of his young racing days and told us of how they went to Italy to train when he was about 17 and they hung around Cinellis' shop when they weren't riding. I would never have guessed Dave Staub was a shop rat at Cinellis in about 1957! No Way! He rode Cinelli road and track bikes and Masi specials also. I saw a photo of Dave riding his 1964 Masi Special track bike and thought how cool it must be to have such a shot of oneself on that bike. I was really impressed.
Dave gave a great talk which I enjoyed tremendously. He told us a bit about his Schwinn years and had his collection of Paramounts which is "neato". I've known Dave for a number of years but I never knew he had this early Cinelli and Masi connection. I think being around us has lit a spark in him as well. The bug has bit him square on the ASS! A little Phil Wood grease on that thing Dave, will have it knocked down in a few days!
I'll save the next part for later. Ted Ernst delivered a "sermon" with the intensity of a fire and brimstone preacher! If you've never seen a 70 plus year old geltleman with the fire in his eyes of a 19 year old, you've never seen Ted Ernst. His willingness to share and inform is beyond enthusiastic. It's infectious! I'll explain in the nest installment.
Velo Rendezvous II, Part three
To pick up where we left off, I must try to convey to those of you who where not present at the symposium how energetic Ted Ernsts' speech was. It was not presented with rigid format, but rather a from the heart and soul of having been there. Ted Ernst rode motor paced races in Europe and had his original steed was on display, along with some vintage parts and accessories from the period. By far the coolest item was Teds' hard leather cycling helmet. Beats the crap out of an old football helmet by several laps of the track. It's hard to imagine the experiences and courage of the "old time racers". Six day races, motor pacing, self-supported Tours De France. Quite a hearty bunch. Ted Ernst and Dave Staub both are the real deal. The enthusiasm of Teds' delivery sent shockwaves of reaction through the crowd. From that point on during the event I would hear comments about how inspiring, interesting, and downright exciting his narrative was. He paused several times to ask if anyone had questions and he fielded them with vigor. NO ONE was left unsatisfied! Ted and Dave especially dished it out; and we sucked it up like spaggetti. I wouldn't mind a second helping of that stuff.
We disbanded so we could head over to Brookside Park to go out for the Saturday ride. Those of us who left the Casita del Arroyo quickly found that some sort of parking lot SNAFU was in progress. Our normal parking area has been usurped and barracaded partially. An attendant is there directing an nonstop line of exiting cars. We're told "cant park here". A whole train of us drive past a huge empty lot where every entrance is chained. We drive to the far end of the place and I talk to another attendant. He knows nothing (including English) but points to a white van nearby and says the spuervisor is in that van. I step on it to hail the van and it takes off. I honk and wave etc. and the van just vanishes. Crap! Back down to out original spot with the whole line behind me now. I jump out of my car and approach the attendant. I give him a "stern sweet talking" ( a technique where the tone of your voice intimates you're pissed off, but you're talking nicely and calmly) which suddenly does the trick. We file in and park. I think this was the largest crowd on the road of the three days. As everyone begins to assemble the day is nothing short of perfect; I think perhaps a change of wind direction had produced a clearer sky than previous days. I've taken the crackpot choice of riding the trike. How could I resist? It really has become a different machine for me since I fitted the triple crank. I can actually get around on it. Prior to very recently, I've probably ridden the trike a total of 35 or 40 miles. I'm still learning how to handle her on the open road. Jeff Groman helped me a bit with cornering tips. Speaking of tips, I did go up on two wheels in one turn and hardley realized it. I prefer to hang my posterior overboard to make the turns. A little more practice and I'll have it. It requires learning to corner with inside pedal sorta down while hanging off in the same direction, which is opposite of a single bike.
We did the "standard" route which is pretty much flat for the first half of the ride. The second part involves some slight uphill terrain, but nothing long or serious really. I was actually able to climb in the large chainring(which is only a 53T) for most of the uphill sections. We stopped at "Bean Town" for our refreshment which was welcomed by all I think, on account of it was quite warm. We have fun sitting around and exchangeing war stories during our brakes. This particular day, as we clog the sidewalk and tables with rows of vintage bikes and vintage bodies; two young (and clearly crazy) girls come barreling down the sidewalk sitting on a runaway skateboard. They blasted through like they were shooting the curl at the Pipeline until they struck a protruding (Matt Gorski) and made a sudden halt. Everyone is stunned and amazed as they continue on, and not a single bike set off the impending domino effect. Close one. We remount and finish the ride with the usual vigor since it's kinda downhillish on the way back. The trike rolls well in 53 x 12 and there is the "Brooklyn finish" comming up as we enter the Rose Bown complex. Another traffic mess is underway as this soccer tournement wreaks havoc on the whole place. We come screaming down this hill and another barricade blocks our passage. Fortunately this time the gatetenders open for us as if someone said "seseme" and we pass. Pergolizzi is there as usual scrambleing for the finish line on his Mario built Masifente. I notice a side opening in the parking lot and whip quick left and I'm thinking "Ha, I snaked 'em, I'll get there first" since they had to go down the road a ways before their left turn. As I'm riding casually thru the parking lot I look to my right to see off in the distance a line of guys going flat out for the line. Holy crap, they're going to kick my ass! I can remember seeing Pergolizzi, Maurice, Alan Schaffer, and I think Mark Petry digging in real hard as they pass me. I show up to the parking area and I must have woke Pergolizzi up from his after ride nap; he was YAWNING as I arrived! John never misses a chance to bust my chops. I was out of gas anyway, but it would have been interesting to see how much cork that pigiron has in a sprint. None of those guys would ever live it down if I took them on in a dash and smoked them! Perhaps it's better I spared them the embarrassment this time; but next year I'll be there.
It's 1:30am, time to cut it off. I'll pick up with dinner at Boca de Beppo (or whatever it is). This is one of the traditional gathering spots for VR. We had the same room we had last year and it was noisy and intimate, if you can imagine that. Dave Staub told a nonstop marathon of stories and played "do you know a guy named so and so" with Peter Johnson and Chuck and probably a few others at the far end of the table. I don't know if Dave actually ate anything, but food was evaporating from down there so something was going on.
Velo Rendezvous II, Part four
Sorry for the delay. I've got this monor inconvience known as WORK to deal with. Been in a frame repair/painting frenzy for the past few days. Got this new puppy to deal with also. She's the cutest pain in the ass you've ever seen. I know Chuck has ants in his pants for me to finish up. So here we go.
I left off last about to detail the evening dinner on Sat. nite; what could be called "the main dinner" at these events. Pretty much everyone who is going to be there is present and the full flavor of the event is evident. We had the same room in the Boca de Beppo that we had last year. I suppose they figured might as well contain the ruckus and the damage to one room in the place. I understand the damage from last years food fight (red sauce stains everwhere) has just recently been repaired! For those of you who have not experienced one of these gatherings I have to mention that these meals are often the time that one makes the best friends. There is a combination atmosphere of one large entity, living, breathing, laughing, gabbing; and several more local circles. As I mentioned, Dave Staub was a literal fountain of information/stories about the life of a young American bike racer in the 50's and 60's. I don't know how Dave was able to eat and talk so much all at the same time, but he's one talented dude. I was sitting at the opposite end of the table just out of earshot of the exchange between Chuck, Peter Johnson, and Dave. I could see the hands flailing and the food vanishing but wasn't catching any conversation. The social end of the table included Karen Schuckman (correct spelling this time), Wayne Bingham, and myself. The volume was up there as I noticed several times it was difficult to hear everything being said by the persons next to you. I enjoyed the company of two of our right side members who I don't get to see very often. I had the pleasure of a little break in the action as we discussed various topics not neccessarily related to bicycles. Several plates of savory Italian food circulated and we devoured everything. Not sure who ordered the "rubber bands in red sauce" but I decided to give some of it a try. Real chewy all right! I think the Italians call it Calamari; I'd rather eat used inner tubes, thank you. Had to wash it down with beer and ravioli. After scrubbing my mouth with a bread stick I was back to "normal?". We left the smart-alec twin brothers and the rest of our servers with a major mess to clean up. I would imagine they've got it cleaned up by now, but I hear we get the plastic sheet treatment next time.
We decided to roam the crowded streets of Pasadena on this fine Sat. evening. The streets were packed with eyewash as we walked around in search of the Gelati place. I think Chuck steared us around the long way so we could get the feel for this place. It reminded me of Main Street in Disneyland; all except for the Victorias Secret store where we ended up congregating as we smeared Gelati on our tongues. OK, so I had some up as far as my eyebrows; but I really know how to enjoy my ice cream! We hung out there for a while and finally the party fizzled. After all, the following day was "the big show".
Sunday. Another beautiful day in paradise. The ride in the morning formed up in the parking lot as the more "hardcore" swappers or persons with a lot of bikes to show started moving into the secluded glen where the show/swap takes place. Krispy Kream gutbombs and coffee, the breakfast of champions, has again been provided by our attentive hosts Sherry and Chuck Schmidt. I guess I was little out of line when I stood under the spigot of the coffee urn and drained it directly into my mouth. No one mentioned using a cup, besides I needed to wash this crust of frosting off of my face after going face first into the box of donuts. And you wonder where my puppy gets her bad manners? Nothing like a sugar rush to inspire me to haul a bunch of bikes into the setup area. I love this time of the event as much as anything. I'd like to be on the ride but I actually prefer to watch the arena fill up with unbelieveable bikes. The final day the total number of attendees are due to appear. I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of my special buddy Joe Bell as Maurice Bresnahan and I prepare for the day. By the time the bike ride gets back the place has filled up with 107 really cool bikes. I know this is only a fraction of the stuff that is in the possesion of listmembers. Each event we have to select a portion of our holdings to bring out and still the place gets packed with an ever widening selection of vintage iron.
This is taking longer than I had hoped. I'll conclude a little later today with my thoughts and observations about the Art Stump bikes that were present. A few conversations took place amongst framebuilders relative to the Stump bikes which I suspect are a little different than most of the talk about these creations amongst other participants. My perspective is just another angle to approach appreciating the craft of framebuilding. Since I see mass quantities of bikes of this caliber all the time I don't spent a tremendous amount of time looking at the bikes. I've seen many of them in bare metal and am intimately accquainted with a large number of them since I did the work. It is nice to see the finished bike, but I spend most of my time talking to as many people as I can. It's very special to be able to visit with everyone while examples of almost everything you can imagine are on display. "Colnago Row" was excellent and I will have a '70 and a '73 to add to the line up next year. The resource of bikes with original paint and decals is awsome. Getting all these bike together at once also helps us quickly learn how to identify bikes by details that dictate the year of construction. I learn a lot at these events. Every year there are some surprises. One thing I have noticed is that there are more variations to some of the common frames than I would have thought. I am noting the Colnago and Masi details myself.
I'll also include in my finale observations of Pergolizzis' "Trial by Trike". Stay tuned as John says "damn, how do you steer this thing; this friggin' thing is haunted!". I wish I had a video camera. Maurice and I were in mortal fear of inciting the Roague Parrotts of Pasadena to attack us as we roared in laughter. Priceless.
Velo Rendezvous II, Part five
I've been remiss on my writing duties. I apologoze for dragging out this torture, but my friend Chuck likes me to see these reports to the end. Time has been short for me. I opened my email today to 318 messages. I haven't been able to keep up with much of the goings on. I would like to comment on one topic; which I will address once I finish this off. In the meantime, the capper to Velo Rendezvous 2002. Again I must remind everyone that the purpose of these reports is to encourage those who have not yet been able to attend one of these magical events to get off their dead behind and plan for the next one. I have committed to Le Cirque 2003 in Greensboro knowing that our English brothers and many others are committed to attending; including framebuilder Peter Weigle from what I have heard. I think one could safely assume that an extremely wide variety of participants will converge this comming year. I plan on riding while there this time; which I realized was part of the special fun of these events. Riding with a group like we had here in CA recently was most certainly extraordinary. I'm looking forward to sucking some wheels on the East coast with a "new" gang. Anyone have a small Schwinn Varsity with Campag. NR parts on it I can ride??
Backtracking to the moment of our (meaning Pergolizzi and myself) arrival from San Diego at Chucks' place to leave off the trike in Chucks garage; the first instant upon exiting the car John wants to try out the trike. It has made the trip toestrapped to the roofrack of my car. John is at the toestraps and has all of them undone before I can even stretch my legs from the drive. We hoist her down and verify that there is suffecient air in the sew up tires. Affirmative. I survey the landscape. Looks harmless enough, nice wide flat LA street with very little traffic. What could possibly go wrong? I can tell than Johnboy is planning on just hopping on and riding this "grandma bike". The road has a very slight crown to it terminating in shallow concrete gutters with curb. I walk the unit out into the middle of the street as John finalizes the fitting of his shoes. Without a word John boards the trike and sits still upon it; suddenly announcing "wow, this thing has two front brakes". I tell him not to worry, he won't be going fast enough to need two brakes.
He's ready to pedal off and I have him facing perpendicular to the curb, but plenty of distance from the opposite side of the road. He begins by pedaling slowly and rolling forward. He is sitting normally on the saddle and now grinning from the odd sensation. He knows he must begin to turn soon because he's headed directly towards the curb, aided by the slight crown in the road. He turns the handlebars left. No responce from the trike. John is suddenly confused. What the ?? He jams on the brakes, still facing straight ahead. From where I'm standing with Maurice, it appears as if the trike has a metal front wheel that is being strongly attracted to the curb which is a powerful magnet. Maurice and I are trying to squelch our giggleing as John creeps forward bit by bit still trying to turn the bike as it gets sucked ever closer to the curb. Finally John gives up and gets off the trike with a statement something like " what the f***, how do you turn this thing?" He picks it up and moves it into mid-street facing down the road now. Remounting, we see him pedal off and shift gears to try and get some speed. I comment to Maurice "he's going too fast for not knowing how to turn the trike yet". As the words exit my mouth we can see John, this time from afar, engaged in a mortal battle with my machine as if it were a giant Anaconda. The snake is winning! Get used to the brakes sucker, the trike defies," I ain't turning until you figure how to do it". Again he stops. Picks up the trike and faces it towards us. He heads back our way and then tries to make a turn in front of us. Again no luck. John ejects from the haunted cycle exclaiming " that damn thing's got poltergiests or something".
Hummmmm, last time I rode it it wasn't haunted. Maybe it just doesn't like New Yorkers? This trike is a California native, maybe that's the problem. I plant my butt on the saddle and step on the pedals. I turn a 360 degree circle with a radius of the wheelbase. John says, "ahole" or something like that as I spin around and around. Then like a shot I straighten it out like exiting a graceful dive and roll away at moderate speed. Then without notice, I slam on the brake, hang my ass WAY off the saddle, and turn the bars hard left. The three wheeled monster responds immediately by turning. I whip around and apply power and without hesitation I'm speeding back towards an astonished John. "Holy Crap" escaped his lips as I passed and then repeated the turn a short distance past them. What it all comes down to was that John was trying to ride it as if it were a regular bike. It's nothing at all like a regular bike. Once you resign yourself to that fact it's just a matter of learning to ride a complete new machine. Trikes are a unique vehicle. I'm planning on riding mine on the open road more often to improve my technique on her. It's fun for a change of pace; and the looks I get! It might even be better bait for getting the chicks than a cute puppy! I'm sure the babes think to themselves "now there's a manly MAN, he's riding a tricycle", as I ride past.
As promised, I will review the Art Stump frames that seem to have capivated the attention of the attendees of the Sunday event at Velo Rendezvous II. First, a bit of information about Art Stump as framebuilder is in order for those who may not be familiar with his body of work. I am in no way an authority on Art Stump, but I have had contact with him periodically over the years since we are both in Southern California. I believe I first met Art Stump when Mike Howard and I went to Santa Monica to buy a used spray booth in 1974. It turns out it came from a company a few doors away from Art's place in Santa Monica where he worked on restoring cars and other various projects. I remember meeting him that day and he was working on some bizarre automotive project at the time. I don't recall if we bought any lugs from him at that time but I think I did. Anyway, Art has built a few bike frames in his lifetime. I think 20 or fewer. Most of the ones I've seen are at least moderately ornate and have traits that stem from his advanced ability as a machinist. One of the things Art did quite well was make clocks. That's some precise machineing. Far more precise than most bicycles require. Many of Arts' bikes are characterized by extensively machined components to match the frame to some degree. In my opinion when one seeks to build ornate and complex frames it is important to outfit the bike with parts that function perfectly and look balanced and graceful on the bike. Personally, going to the extent that these "art bikes" go to is a bit over the top for my taste. Partially because my personal taste is for the simple designs (or the moderately ornate ones) to be exicuted with traditional framebuilding gracefulness. By this I mean sharp crisp lug edges with perfect 90 degree walls that are moderately thin but very consistant in thickness all over the lug. I like to see the "crotches" filed to blend as smoothly as possible through the curves and intersections. Lug cutouts should be sharp as well with no braze filling the interior to distort the shape.
Filing of this type is common amongst high end frames of the "classic era" of framebuilding prior to investment cast lugs. Classicly trained framebuilders learned these methods in various countries like Italy, France, and England. I have noticed that "hobby builders" sometimes go about shaping and finishing lugs differently than the "traditional" style of filing. These frames have a different look to them that looks odd to me. The Stump frames have a finishing method that although effective in some ways, sort of "softens" the lines of the lugs to where they are not real distinct. They begin to blend into the tube as opposed to stand out from it. Also, interesting as the "theme" of the bike is, I still prefer artistic "shorelines" to lugs as opposed to using a straight edge to "frame a picture" so to speak. From a practical standpoint, from which a bike should always be considered; the embellishment of every possible part is tedious and noteworthy; but is a nightmare to clean if the bike were to be used. In addition, the black chrome is probably the worst choice for a finish as one could come up with. Even with the clearcoat, it is aging and degenerating and will continue to do so. Any finish that will self disruct should never be the original finish on a frame; especially just for the sake of having an exotic finish on a bike. A masterpiece should stand the test of time under normal usage. The industrial look of the brake cable routing and fittings conflicted with the ornate style of the lugs and the theme of the bike. Many people are awed by a piece that involves tons of time and work; as well they should be. But a masterpiece should be a completely graceful and harmonious work from the ground up, it should be supremely practical and functional while being an exceptional example of both design and craftsmanship. My personal opinion is that a masterpiece bicycle respects the traits of practicality, beauty, and durability while delivering perfect fit and performance. Some of the effect of these frames are lost for me because I see a bit too much foo foo to really be considered practical. Too much was done for the sake of "art" and perhaps not enough attention spent on making the project a functioning and ridable bike that can be used with reasonable good conscience.
The Art Stump bikes have their place in American framebuilding "history" for sure. I don't think there are too many "advanced hobbists" framebuilders out there that have made the impact on the general populace as Art has. He got some good ink as I recall in a few publications and that impression stayed with people. His work is unique and anytime you see frames with so much just flat out WORK in them it's hard not to be impressed. The style isn't my taste, but you have to admire Art and his work. He's one-of-a-kind and certainly one of the masters and perpetraters of the early 70's lightening bike parts craze. I enjoyed seeing these bikes in show. Let's see some on the road.
Well that's it for now. If I can go out real quick and round up some candy posing as a poor framebuilder; I'll be back to scare the life out of you with another one of my hair-brained opinions. Costume? Easy, glue the big fuzzy eyebrows, nose, and Groucho mustache to my welding goggles and I'm all set. Put on over an old Campagnolo cycling cap and the outfit is complete. For full effect, smoldering clothes from a "brazing accident" should yeild maximum take from candy donors. ==========================================================================
Chuck Schmidt South Pasadena, CA http://www.velo-retro.com (Velo Rendezvous III event details)