Steady there, Dale..don't you go encouraging me...but when a man and his computer have been separated for a couple of weeks, and when that same man has been starved of his daily rations of the Classicrendezvous List contris then, as John Wayne..or was it Clint Eastwood,.certainly it wasn't Roy Rogers or Gene Autry , said "...a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do!"
My first visit to the Tour de France was in 1952..then in 1953...but I got much closer to the riders in that second year...and I fell in love with a bike called a Stella. It was a bright orange colour, with chrome lugs and had a curious front mech that had to be pushed backwards and forwards instead of side to side like my faithful Simplex. It was displayed to perfection on the front cover of that year's Mirroir de Cyclisme's commemorative edition of the Tour....and my attraction to the bike was enhanced by the fact that a very handsome French cyclist called Louison Bobet had just won the Tour on it.
Fifty-three years later I still search for this, my ideal bike, and while I have quite a stable of Stellas, including one middle range orange one, I still haven't got one with the chrome lugwork..although I have just managed to win an original headbadge with "STELLA" written in Old-English script. I had even departed from the prescribed P-B-P route back in 1999..well two P-B-Ps ago.. to visit the Bobet museum to view my dream bike only to find the premises closed !
Just when I was about to give up hope of ever owning such a bike...one has just come along..in all its splendour, orange and chrome, with that Huret front mech AND Louison's own version of the Huret Tour-de-France rear mech.And just what is that version of the Stronglight 49D chainset? I've heard of a 49A...
It is to be seen..and bought, if you fancy it, on French Ebay, in the Collection section..No 8746803263. It really is a beauty..and it appears to be in good nick..and it has the original invoice with it
So why am I not going to bid for it? Well..I haven't quite decided yet...and with the bike being about 5cms larger than I can ride..and with now over 200 bikes and frames in my collection..it is hard to justify. But, as my wife repeats convincingly every time she discovers a cruise to a port anywhere in the Americas where she hasn't been before "You only pass this way once, you know..." And, after all, 53 years IS a looong time to wait to realise that dream.
It has only just been put up for auction and the starting price is quite modest...so if any LIst member wants to have a shot at buying it I would be willing to try to get it over to you one way or another..I might even be able to pick it up in France.
Norris Lockley...counting the cash in my Euro piggybank..Settle Uk