Way back in 1976 I took some time off work to ride a bicycle around England and part of Wales. As a boy, like every other kid, I rode a push everywhere and read about bikes and bike racing, especially the Tour de France.
Somewhere along the line I read about a bloke named Monty Young who had a bike shop called Condor Cycles, just out of London. Monty made bikes to measure, loved using Reynolds 531 tubing on his touring bikes and was strongly committed to Campagnolo equipment for fit out.
As a consequence, on arriving in London I headed straight to Condor Cycles, met Monty, got measured and waited patiently until my orange coloured Condor Cycles fully equipped by Campag was ready to roll.
I’ll save writing about the great cycle tour of England and Wales to another day but suffice to say that my Condor committed me to top line bicycle ownership that still exists today.
A blog or so ago I mentioned having three racing bikes stored away here at Cassa Creakingbones that had been joined by a friend’s collection of similar style bikes for safe keeping.
Storing his great bikes next to mine took my thoughts back to the days when I was a member of the Sydney Cycling Club, trained every day of the week by riding my bike to work in the City, did laps of Sydney’s Centennial Park with other club members before and after work and either raced or toured on weekends.
Now being committed to cycling and having a commitment to top line equipment meant having a bike for every occasion.
This meant one for general training, one for criterium racing, one for general road races, one for touring, and one for the ‘ mine’s better than yours’ category.
Now I should mention that SWMBO was equally into cycling and possessed a similar number of machines.
Oh, and I should mention that we also added two mountain bikes to our collection but our love affair with them was short lived. That’s another story for another time.
Our garage had no room for our motor vehicle as we had thirteen, not a typo, thirteen fully equipped bikes hanging there. Mine on one side, SWMBO’s on the other.
Now each bike required its own special range of wheels and tyres, tailored for different events so we had at least ten spare wheels on hand, just in case. Then of course there were the Campagnolo spare parts, specialised tools, lycra outfits, special shoes, eventually a range of helmets and every gadget you could possibly imagine.
Now way back then it was difficult to find decent wet weather gear so SWMBO decided to go into the manufacturing of wet weather bicycle clothing.
If I remember correctly, at the time I was researching bicycle tyre life and a range of other cycling issues so we registered the business name, ‘ Australian Bicycle Research Centre’.
We didn’t stay in business long but that too is a story for another time.
Here’s an image of my side of the garage:
Now as I wrote, different bicycles brands and styles suite different purposes and here are some examples from my collection:
A LADIES TOP LINE COLUMBUS TUBE CAMPAG EQUIPPED CINELLI.
This beautiful pink Cinelli was given to SWMBO by the owner of one of Sydney’s biggest bike shops in appreciation of the exclusive clothing she supplied to his store. He also gave her a made to measure pink lycra outfit to wear when out on the bike.
Now for riding in criteriums I chose a short wheelbase Alan aluminium frame with all tubes glued and screwed into the lugs. Campag equipped of course.
Then came my first Colnago, a beautiful Italian cycle constructed from double butted Columbus tubing. A superb road racing machine:
Later on I added a Colnago Master to my collection. It actually was supplied with colour matched cycling shoes. Talk about ‘mine’s better than yours’. Sadly I can’t find a photo of the great bike.
There I added a Gios Turino to the collection, a versatile machine, suitable for some criterium circuits but also for general road racing.
For touring, nothing matched my tailor made Condor. It had bar end shifters, wide range gearing, oversized cranks to allow greater pedal pressure, Brooks leather saddle, front and rear racks and, shocking for a purist, mudguards. Unheard of for a top the range bicycle. REYNOLDS 531 double butted tubing of course and all Campagnolo running gear.
My overall commitment is to Colnago frames but as I’ve said, I was prepared to ride other brands for special events. Not so SWMBO.
SWMBO is a rusted on fan of Cinelli, a prestigious Italian bicycle. Campagnolo Super record equipped of course. Here is another of her Cinellis, a specialised road racing machine which remains in her possession:
We put our cycles to good use, enjoyed our time with the Sydney Cycling Club, spent time on the Committee and represented the club in races here and there.
I raced in the Goulburn to Liverpool Cycle classic and other races around the State from 1982 through to 1988. Was I successful? Never . One one occasion in a two day event, I actually finished in 6th place but no one from the club saw me finish. They were all waiting for the last stragglers to cross the line, my usual finishing space.
Over the years SWMBO and I did some great tours and they will be the subject of some later writings.
Hoo roo for now