Colnago anyone?

Guest Article: All the Bikes in my Life Have Come from my Father

Guest Article: All the Bikes in my Life Have Come from my Father

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Lucky is the cyclist who has a parent cyclist. Early mentoring about the pain cave, guidance gluing on tires, these are worthwhile lessons a parent could lecture a child on. If one has to listen to a parental lecture, better it be about Eddy Merckx and how you are no Eddy Merckx than balancing your checking account. For the rest of us, our parents maybe helped in the purchase of our first bike to get us out of the house, then we were on our own N+1 quest, making our mistakes as we went along. @davidbeers is lucky, his father is a cyclist. 

Yours in Cycling, Gianni

The first one was on Christmas Day, 1960. I got on the bike in the driveway and he gave me a push, no training wheels. I just rode down the street, until it was time to turn around. Since I couldn’t turn, I fell off. After that I never fell off until I was 13.

My Dad had a really cool racing bike called a Lentin Clubman. It had dropped bars with no bar tape, and he rode it with the leather saddle perched way up, on account of his long legs. One day I tried to ride it, without asking. I was flying down Old Chester Road before I realized that my hands were too small to reach the brake levers. My Dad appeared out of nowhere to stop me at the crest of the big hill. Smashed right into his chest; It must have hurt but he didn’t let on.

I had a 3-speed English bike called a Dunelt. It was a Raleigh knock-off with upright bars. I wanted a racing bike, a 10-speed. My Dad helped me get a real compromise: dropped bars and a derailleur kit to make it into a 9-speed. I put a lot of miles on that bike. The second time I fell off a bike was on the Dunelt, when I ran into a parked car. My thighs smacked the trunk so hard I couldn’t walk for a week.

My Dad taught me to tie a bow tie without a mirror. He used to ride his Clubman to work in downtown Washington; he had a rack on the back and he would lash his briefcase to it. On our way to the bus stop, we would see him cruise by, bow tie undone and flapping. I asked him once, if he tied it at the office. No, he explained with great amusement, the goal is this: First, to ride into the tunnel under Scott Circle, no hands, with the tie flapping, and then to emerge from the tunnel into the sunshine of K Street, no hands, straightening it.

Like all boys we wanted new, cool bikes, but we never got the one in the shop window. My Dad was always finding another route. For him the cleverness of the find was as important as the components were to me. It’s the same with furniture, and sportcoats, and houses. He sought out the advice of a dope dealer who also was my first riding mentor. That led to the first great bike I rode. The Mercian: Columbus tubing, Cinelli bars, Shimano drivetrain because Campy was out of the question.

I won some races on the Mercian, and placed well enough in some others to be named “Best New Member” of the National Capital Velo Club, sponsored by Georgetown Cycle Sport. They spelled my name wrong on the award I got. My Dad framed it, and “Dave Banks” has a place on the basement wall, next to my brother’s Ambassador’s Cup running trophy.

One thing we had in common was our understanding of the pain of losing bikes to thieves. The Mercian, The Clubman, The Legnano, a pair of  Supercourses, all disappeared and the sorrow was joined by bitterness. At least with the Mercian I had put enough into it by then, a lot of Campy, that an insurance claim was worthwhile. It paid thirty cents on the dollar, so I bought a Bianchi with much lesser parts and started over.

For my thirtieth birthday my Dad got his dealer to find me a used Colnago frame. A work of art by itself, I hung it on the wall for two years and just looked at it. Then I got a big bonus from a house I built, and I blew it all on a Campy Record Grouppo. I was going to keep the Bianchi for riding in the rain, but then I had a better idea. I gave it to my Dad; fanciest bike he ever rode.

For my fiftieth birthday my Dad got my long-time riding partner Clemson and my wife to get me another used Colnago, all dressed up with Campy Record. Now I have two, kind of like Ferraris: a very fast new one, and a sweet vintage one, both turn heads.

 

// Guest Article // The Bikes

  1. Nice story!

    My father taught me to ice skate, throw & catch, downhill ski, and plenty of other sports and how to work with my hands. A few years back we built up a commuter bike together, painted the frame, put parts on it, etc. He’s a mechanical engineer and does all his own automobile work. At that point all I could do was swap a tube, so learning all of that was pretty darn cool.

    My steel Tommasini – a gift allowed by my grandfather!

    Hmm, stolen bikes in DC…I had one stolen when I was living on Lowell Street, NW. Two days later, on July 4th, I was riding around the city on another bike. Caught some fucker riding my stolen bike! He claimed he’d bought it used. Not sure if he was telling the truth but I told him to get the hell of my bike and far away from me. Pretty fun to tell a dude twice my size to fuck off. I think he knew I meant business.

  2. Hope my Son reads this  article.

  3. Great story @davidbeers. My dad, while a great and wonderful guy, wasn’t ever into sports (unless you consider hunting and fishing sports). However, he did notice me eyeing a “10speed” in the local hard wear/ sports store and it appeared next to the Christmas tree on Xmas morning. I put a zillion miles on it, using it to ride all over Mt Shasta City delivering papers, and going to various friends. And so began my lifelong on and off love of the sport.

  4. Nice story @davidbeers! My father’s bike ~1985.

    When I first saw his steed I couldn’t get my leg over the top tube. Tried riding through the triangle. When I grew a bit more and could ride it on the saddle, my father took me to the local velodrome and he rode a few laps in his trousers with the ends tucked in his socks. He was the fastest rider I’ve ever seen! I couldn’t believe how lightening fast he was. He pulled up to the top of the fence and passed the Raleigh to me and said go for it. I went for it and just crossing the line of the first lap I was introduced to lactic acid! Never forget that day!

  5. Dads are great.  Which reminds me of my own dad story.  Stop me if you’ve heard this one.  As a kid, I would take things apart – sometimes by forceful means.  At age 8, I decided to disassemble my 5-speed Schwinn Stingray by using a screwdriver, hammer and a gnarly set of pliers.  My dad, an engineer, didn’t yell at me.  He just nodded.  A few days later he bought me a bicycle repair manual.  The Stingray never regained its former glory, but I learned.  I still take my bikes apart, but when they are reassembled, they are fully Rule #65 compliant.   I thank my dad for that.

  6. I never got any cool bikes when I was a kid.

    So, this Christmas when my 10 year old son asked for a road bike I was happy to oblige.  This Scott Jr 24 was just the ticket.  We had to swap out the seat post for something a little longer but the length is just perfect for him with a bit of room to grow in the stem.

    Shimano Sora group set 8 speed with a 46/34T up front.

  7. Dad’s and bikes go together well- mine used to take us up the street to watch the racers come streaming down the mountain behind us, with sun glinting off shiny bits of their bikes. He used to impress me by riding epic all day marathons to  get to grandparents houses while we drove with Mum. My first cool bike was  inherited from him -a lightweight, no-name aluminium racing bike with  shimano gear until it got stolen..

  8. How the hell will anyone learn the rules with a lead photo like that? Come on people!

    @sthilzy -badass, your violations will be ignored because the 1980’s were a rule violation.

  9. Thanks to Dad, I always had a bike.  I never understood friends who didn’t have a bike growing up.  Riding a bike was life, not having a bike…is no life at all.

    The freedom to go anywhere you wanted without having to wait until you had a driver’s licence.  The world you could explore on two wheels.  These are the things opened for those of us who were shown the better path.  Thank you Dad.  Thanks for all the early bikes, and for the bike you helped me buy that set me on my own n+1 quest.

  10. Great stuff.  I look forward to riding with my boys as they grow up.  Can’t wait to get the first JR road bike.

    My dad didn’t ride but introduced me to skiing (among other things).  He’s a very smooth skier.  When I was a senior in high school I went out to Colorado with some buddies for a few days and got to take his old Dynastar MV2s to ski on.  He had finally replaced them the winter before; they were at least 15 years old.  The next year he got me a new pair of Dynastars for Christmas.

  11. @piwakawaka

    How the hell will anyone learn the rules with a lead photo like that? Come on people!

    @sthilzy -badass, your violations will be ignored because the 1980″²s were a rule violation.

    My eye can never undo what I’ve seen .

    @ shilzy  Is that how you  trained back in the day 15kg on your back some real rule “5” going on there

  12. @piwakawaka

    How the hell will anyone learn the rules with a lead photo like that? Come on people!

    @sthilzy -badass, your violations will be ignored because the 1980″²s were a rule violation.

    They’re Colnago’s which allow some degree of discretion (non-slammed stems not-with-standing). The man sachels are, no doubt, filled with V, and the bikes have been parked after the dishing of much pain to the uninitiated.

    And yes, the 80’s are to be forgiven (save for the La Vie Claire kit, which was f’ing awesome).

  13. @Ccos

    @piwakawaka

    How the hell will anyone learn the rules with a lead photo like that? Come on people!

    @sthilzy -badass, your violations will be ignored because the 1980″²s were a rule violation.

    They’re Colnago’s which allow some degree of discretion (non-slammed stems not-with-standing). The man sachels are, no doubt, filled with V, and the bikes have been parked after the dishing of much pain to the uninitiated.

    And yes, the 80″²s are to be forgiven (save for the La Vie Claire kit, which was f’ing awesome).

    Just makes it worse to disrespect a great brand, the stems are the least of the indiscretions, as for the LaVie Claire? Still fucking awesome….

    @davidbeers I’m only joking man, got any other pics?

  14. Wedge packs, not saddle bags – no violation there…

  15. Great tale!  Thanks for sharing.

  16. I love the mention of the Mercian, I as fell under the spell of becoming a Velominati (all be it a Wannabe) in the early 80’s. It was a dream for me to ride for over 2 months in the UK and ride to the their factory and order a custom frame.

    Better yet, the day I got engaged, I ordered one for my Velomihottie to be.  To be ridden on our delayed Honeymoon for over two months in Europe.  After our trip to Italy last year, she deserved a custom Serotta, Campy Super Record  of course.   After 30 years this is especially sweet.

  17. The young lady in the photo 1) loves bikes 2) loves riding bikes 3) loves riding bikes fast 4) loves setting PRs 5) loves racing and most of all 6) loves winning. The old man, yea, her dad, needless to say really digs supporting her ideas re: n+1 . She also knows that flames on her helmet add speed. Of course. Kids and bikes… the best. RC

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    start_el('?display_element(Object(stdClass), Array, 1, 0, Array, '?@sthilzy

    Nice story @davidbeers! My father’s bike ~1985.

    When I first saw his steed I couldn’t get my leg over the top tube. Tried riding through the triangle. When I grew a bit more and could ride it on the saddle, my father took me to the local velodrome and he rode a few laps in his trousers with the ends tucked in his socks. He was the fastest rider I’ve ever seen! I couldn’t believe how lightening fast he was. He pulled up to the top of the fence and passed the Raleigh to me and said go for it. I went for it and just crossing the line of the first lap I was introduced to lactic acid! Never forget that day!

    Wonderful photo. It captures something essential about how puberty should properly flow into adolescence on a motherfucking bike. Already Casually Deliberate.

  19. My dad rode a Raleigh from the 70’s. I’m not completely sure what model it was, but it might have been a Sprite. It was yellow and looked a lot like this one:

    When I was tall enough to manage it (at the time it seemed gigantic) I *loved* riding that bike. I felt like I was sailing a schooner across the sea.
    My own childhood bikes were sadly never quite that cool, but I can’t blame my dad. He kept me in bikes even if they weren’t the best. The first one of my own I remember having was orange and black and had solid rubber tires and training wheels. I think it also had a number plate. But I quickly outgrew that and moved on to my first somewhat-real bike:

    This is me in around 1980, riding my Schucks BMX. It was as good as you’d expect a hardware store brand bike to be. The high-tech stamped sheet metal gusseting at the head tube meant it was tough enough to handle all the sweet jumps I could throw at it. As we both grew up, the reflectors and chain guard would be jettisoned, and eventually I rattle-canned it flat black, because I found a can of flat black paint in my dad’s garage. It developed a horrible squeaky bottom bracket which led to my unfortunate nickname of “creaky” among neighborhood peers.
    When this poor bike’s day in the sun had faded, dad bought me a Huffy “Stu Thomsen” BMX. Again, only the best for this kid. I beat the living snot out of that bike until dad furnished me with a sweet 12 speed (heavy emphasis on “12” in those days) from Coast to Coast hardware. My “Coast King” was truly an elegant machine. I think it was silver, and amazingly only weighed 45 pounds.
    Times and tastes change, and eventually I was Too Old for a Kids Bike (BMX) and mountain bikes had suddenly become a thing. Another trip to the hardware store was in order, and I become the proud owner of a Huffy Scout. It miraculously weighed a good 4 or 5 pounds less than the 12 speed, and with its superior handling and off-road prowess, I could now go anywhere.
    This lasted until I was about 18. Around that time, I was starting college and had a job and a little money of my own. I went out to buy my first REAL, non-department store, actual-bike-store bike. I discovered a shop called Silverdale Cyclery (my own LBS to this day), made nice with the staff, asked a million questions, drooled on the expensive parts in the glass case for months, and finally spent $300 (a truly fantastic sum in my eyes) on an actual, honest-to-goodness mountain bike.

    It was a yellow Raleigh.

    Thanks for getting me there, dad.

  20. Wow – one of my guide-to-manhood moments was when I was riding my Schwinn Traveler and Dad was on his brand new custom Klein (with the internal cable routing, no less).  This was Dad’s uber-bike.  Custom geometry (he was 6’6″), full Dura-Ace, and in dark grey.  Looking back I imagine it rode like a rock, but that’s not the point of this story.  We were not wealthy – the Klein was the pinnacle of his bike ownership and was probably worth more than either (both?) of the cars we had at the time.  That bike represented lot’s of hard hours of work and sacrifice and it was his prized possession.  That’s important to understand.  So back to the story…  We were hanging out at the base of a big climb and I asked him if I could ride the Klein up the hill.  At this point I was only about 6’1″, so the bike was a bit large for me.  He hesitated for just a moment, then said “OK, give it what you’ve got”.  I -flew- up that hill.  Then I fell over.  Remember we were running cleats and toe straps.  I was so deep in the pain cave that I neglected to loosen the straps.  I managed to scrape up the brake levers, the cranks and somehow the right seatstay.  Even though I didn’t know what damage I’d done, I remember laying on the ground just wallowing in guilt and embarrassment.   Dad rolled up, looked things over, took a deep breath, and said “That was pretty good.  Try not to fall down next time”.  Not  a word was ever said about the damage I did to his dream bike.  I flash back to that moment pretty often these days as I raise his grandson…

  21. @piwakawaka  This was an homage to my Dad, and judging by the other comments clearly a lot of guys totally got that it was about their dads, too. You trash talk like a douchbag, then you say sorry man I was only joking.  Too late, pal, you’re still a douch.

  22. I’ve got my grandson hooked already, he helps me build up and repair my bikes…  In a few years he’ll be able to glue tubulars.  Your Colnago’s are great.

  23. @davidbeers

    @piwakawaka This was an homage to my Dad, and judging by the other comments clearly a lot of guys totally got that it was about their dads, too. You trash talk like a douchbag, then you say sorry man I was only joking. Too late, pal, you’re still a douch.

    whatever, least my bikes don’t look like that.

  24. @colnago_fan Fine stable of Thoroughbred’s you have there!

  25. All those cool ‘dad and bike’ stories…..the only time my dad ever got involved with bicycles was when he borrowed my Dawes racing bike when I was about 15. My first good bike, 531 butted tubing etc. His car wouldn’t start so he borrowed it and got knocked off by a motorcycle.

  26. At risk of getting into pschotherapy here, my father never did anything like that, so I am slightly jealous. Not that he was into cycling but he was, by all accounts, a talented grade-level cricketer and did well as a professional runner (in the days when turning professional meant no Olympics). But never even took me down the park to knock a few balls around, fuck he never even played in the backyard. Anyway…

    I always said I would not be like that with my kids and I have managed to get two of them to be quite sporty. I gave our eldest (17yrs)  my old Colnago Master now that he’s big enough, adjusted it to fit him, got a new saddle etc. But sadly he doesn’t appreciate it. His school want him to do triathlons (he’s a very good swimmer). He hasn’t even done one yet and he is moaning about not having a carbon fibre tri bike and wheels and all the other shit. Which in some senses makes him a perfect triathlete but makes me despair…

    And @davidbeers, nice story but lighten up. If you don’t want people to make comments you might not like, don’t put it on the internet is quite a good rule of thumb.

  27. @sthilzy

    Sandown ??

  28. @TheVid  10-4 to that and indeed Thank You Dad. Has to be 30+ years ago my old man took me in to the LBS and I had choice between a blue Schwinn Varsity and a red Ross Eurosport. Certain that red bikes were faster I chose the Ross. I remember that day very well. And the two bikes he had me on prior were so perfectly cool and in fact legit bikes. He always bought me one size up. I remember the first rides on the big bikes. And always wanting to ride further with the next ride. I grew in to them. Thank You Dad. How many kiddos today get one of the contraptions from a big box store that ends up in the back of the garage after a handful of rides down the street? I guess many of ‘em are bikes in the sense of having two wheels and pedals. But probably not bikes that’ll set a kid off on a lifetime of riding let alone go a little further on the next ride.  RC

  29. @ChrisO  I might could get my son interested in riding one of my cool ol’ bikes if I mounted 50 cal machine guns on the bars. I say might. He’d most certainly be interested if he was kicking back w/his feet up and in control of the bike w/an x-box controller. As long as it still had the 50 cal’s. Cheers, RC

  30. @Jay wedge packs are rule compliant? Thank God if so. I was filing my use of one (a mini) as my sole violation. Catholic guilt is a powerful thing when there are rules at stake.

  31. @Ccos

    @Jay wedge packs are rule compliant? Thank God if so. I was filing my use of one (a mini) as my sole violation. Catholic guilt is a powerful thing when there are rules at stake.

    @Jay doesn’t know his ass from his elbow.  To call an EPMS a “wedge pack” in the hopes of finding a loop hole in the Rules is pure foolishness.  It’s akin to being a little bit pregnant…

  32. @Ccos

    @Jay wedge packs are rule compliant? Thank God if so. I was filing my use of one (a mini) as my sole violation. Catholic guilt is a powerful thing when there are rules at stake.

    God most likely wants you to stop your transgressions. He’ll certainly deduct some points or relegate you to the back if you continue with this “wedge pack” behavior.

  33. @Jay

    Wedge packs, not saddle bags – no violation there…

    Man, you are risking a mini-pump thrashing with nonsense like that.

  34. When I was six, I watched my show off dad endo over the bars of his road bike. I laughed so hard I endo’ed after hitting the curb straight on. Like father, like son. When he visits, he likes to sit back drinking coffee all day while I work in the shop. He will occasionally even get his hands dirty working on a seized bottom bracket or something. He sold his Ford Galaxy convertable years ago for $5000. Now, I will point at a frame and say, “that coffee in your hand and your old Galaxy will get you onto that frame…”

  35. Oh, my daughter is eyeing up the Dawes Sprint Jr road bike we have in the shop. She keeps asking if it has been sold when I come home in the evening.

  36. @unversio

    @Ccos

    @Jay wedge packs are rule compliant? Thank God if so. I was filing my use of one (a mini) as my sole violation. Catholic guilt is a powerful thing when there are rules at stake.

    God most likely wants you to stop your transgressions. He’ll certainly deduct some points or relegate you to the back if you continue with this “wedge pack” behavior.

    I’ll comply, lest the pox of a thousand flats befall me.

    In penance, and in keeping with the spirit of the posting, all of my kids shall receive a proper education and only ride worthy bikes.

  37. @anotherdownunder

    @sthilzy

    Sandown ??

    Yep

  38. My little girl is just starting out on a balance bike at 20 months. Of all the bikes in the stable she only covets my ’02 Colnago Master X Light, stroking the down tube and purring ‘niiiiiiiiiice’.

    I guess now I’m only really responsible for taking care of it until she’s ready to ride it.

  39. @davidbeers

    @piwakawaka This was an homage to my Dad, and judging by the other comments clearly a lot of guys totally got that it was about their dads, too. You trash talk like a douchbag, then you say sorry man I was only joking. Too late, pal, you’re still a douch.

    Bit of an overreaction. Take it easy.

  40. @Jay

    Wedge packs, not saddle bags – no violation there…

    Cripes – were you not around for the EPMS thread!  100 hill reps at dawn.

  41. My dad told me I looked like a yuppie when I put on my kit for the first time.

  42. I remember my first ‘serious’ bike: a Raleigh Record that cost $200 at Bill & Andy’s in Concord, MA. It had Simplex derailleurs and Weinman center-pull brakes – which were the rage, and was made of Reynolds 531 tubing. [that sticker on the seat tube was a source of immense pride] It had a Brooks saddle, and because I didn’t know anything about break-in, I drilled lots of 1/8″ holes for ‘ventilation’ and to soften things up. I crashed it a lot, and even managed to bend the BB spindle without bending the crank arm. Those were the days. I rode it everywhere with nary a thought of my safety…including busy traffic circles.

    Thanks for the article. What memories!

  43. Great article.  I started my son on his first road bike last summer (he reached my height and can ride my winter trainer)…needless to say I am now down a bike, he will be riding my Ribble this summer.  The problem is that he deserves my Argon 18 more than me, however, something things have to be earned!

  44. @sthilzy my first “racing” bike was that same Raleigh (have we discussed this before?), except instead of coming from Dad, it was a handmedown from my eldest brother which then passed down through 4 other brothers before it got to me.

    I bet yours ran smoother than mine.

  45. Dads are good for stuff like that. He might not have been a cyclist for any other reason than an occasional trip to the shops or short commute, but he showed me how to strip and rebuild my bike the first time, and I did it after that. He must have been a good teacher as I didn’t need showing twice, and bike maintainance kept me in jobs through Uni. I’m now paying it back by building the spoked wheels for the 1960s Honda he’s restoring.

  46. @Alex Ek

    My little girl is just starting out on a balance bike at 20 months. Of all the bikes in the stable she only covets my ’02 Colnago Master X Light, stroking the down tube and purring ‘niiiiiiiiiice’.

    I guess now I’m only really responsible for taking care of it until she’s ready to ride it.

    I just started my favourite great-nephew on a balance bike at the same age.  He is a terror on it .

    Through tragedy, I never got the chance to guide my son through these things, but I’m loving the idea of setting the little fella on the road.

  47. @gregorio Had the same bike…a green beauty until I turned her into a pretzel lodged into a railway crossing!  Now what follows violates countless rules, but Dad went long to get it for me and I loved her!!!

  48. @The Pressure YES! Green it was…the sexiest thing my 12 yr old eyes had ever seen.

  49. I’ll post this here because I can’t think of anywhere else. Did anyone else see the Power Bar (I think that’s what It was, my eyes usually glaze over when the ads come on) but during yesterday’s winter Olympic coverage there was an ad for Power Bar that featured a guy in a recliner and they’d done an amazing job of editing into all kinds of footage. One bit had him racing up the Champs Elysees with Cav sprinting in the foreground and at the end, recliner guy was on the podium getting kisses from Nairo Quintana. Really well done and actually funny. I looked online to find it, but couldn’t.

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