Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Two legends - Breeze and Repack!!

'92 Rocky Mountain Stratos

It may have taken a little longer than I had hoped but last week I finally finished the Rocky Mountain Stratos build. Dating for '92 I picked up the frame a few months back now and have been eager to get her built up and on the trails.  Essentially driven by a mixture of early 90's XT, a super nice Logic chainset, complemented by a smattering of Syncros and Rocky Mountain own bars and stem, I think she has a nice balance between purpose and style.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

New Old School MTB Ready For The Summer....I Hope

As a retro-bike fiend sometimes you have surpass necessity, logic, and financial constraints and save these things from a life of retirement under a blanket in the back of someones garage and get them back on the trails were they belong... Meet the new buddy for my '85 Canyon, a '88 Giant Super Sierra in lovely black chrome.... she's a beaut (or will be when she's dressed with M730 XT!)...

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

www.retrobike.co.uk, my cyberspace second home...

If you have any interest whatsoever about 'older' bikes - whether that be MTB or road bikes - then a visit to www.retrobike.co.uk is certainly worthwhile.  Essentially a site for middle aged men like myself to indulge themselves in the sins of the steel, to rekindle unrequited showroom desires of yesterday, or indeed potter around in a huge online shed with a number of like-minded beings safe in the knowledge that a fetish for Shimano Deer Head rear mechs will be catered for and indeed celebrated, it's my second home.  Every month members are given the opportunity to show off their pride and joy (or the degrees in which they have slunk down the OCD road, if you will) in the 'Bike Of The Month' thread.  Basically a self congratulatory episode in any retro lovers life in which you grasp any 'nice bike' or 'loving those bear cages' comment as if spoken by the deity himself. This month I have put my beloved 30 quid find Claud Butler Canyon up for scrutiny so hoping to feel the benefits of a good ego massage very soon.  Go have a look at all the other fantastic machines in this month's poll. It will have you reaching for the Friday Ad in no time.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


A forty year old man, well, any man in fact doesn’t need ten bikes.  I’d wager even Eddy Merckx in his prime, battle-scarred and triumphant, never had ten bikes.  As I sit here typing this surrounded by those ten bikes in various states of completion unable to move in this so-called office it’s a sentiment that even I can’t really argue with.  But I am in too deep to consider rational arguments, too far gone to consider this might be some weird alternative mid-life crisis, and, if I am totally honest too addicted to want to change it.

There are times when I stare down the road in anticipation for the mailman who on any given day will be carrying some package from all corners of the globe.  I can feel the adrenalin running through my veins as I rip open them parcels, feverishly, anxiously, with a knowing smile as my eyes set upon that shiny ultra-rare Zeus rear mech from the foothills of the Pyrenees or that lithe Italian saddle from the back streets of Genoa.  Hour upon hour is spent in the company of Marin Man, Claudebutleroolz, and Mellowvelo as I scour the retro forums in search of my next fix.  Paypal has become my bank account these days and Rouleur my bible.  I wear clothing that once I would have struggled to even identify as clothing.  I squeeze into tops made thirty years ago by colour blind scientists experimenting with new materials and grandiose visions of sending men to Mars, and even use cream on areas that haven’t seen the light of day in years. 

As a gambler is drawn to Vegas, or a drinker to Dublin, in Lewes I find myself in a cyclist’s utopian dreamscape.  Whether up on the Downs on a countryside craving for mud and trails or on the lanes and back ways when a more subtle tarmac is the surface of choice, this town and its surrounding area offers everything I need to fulfil my needs and is an arena in which I can only flourish (or flounder of course if you know what I mean)   Taking steel to the road has no comparison not in this or any other world.  Nothing matches the feel of new responsive rubber against freshly laid tar. For a velo-head it’s the Holy Grail, the Mecca, the preeminent moment right there when all the hard work, sacrifice, reliance, and madness is realized.  At that moment I could carrying on pedalling forever.

I am the worse kind of cycling addict. Not only do I buy, build, tinker and genuinely adore my bikes I am acutely aware that those self same steel sirens have taken me beyond normal levels of infatuation and heading towards an OCD realisation.  And still I do nothing.  I’m hopeless, dependent, and beyond recall.  Yet, when the sun hits the French-polished Cinelli stem of my 1979 Gazelle as I claw my way up Firle Beacon of a Sunday morning whilst ‘normal’ people are still contemplating getting up, my calves about to explode, and  swallowing down a piece of my lung,  I smile knowing once again I am king of the road.

(Article originally printed in January issue of Viva Lewes)