The Transformation

The Transformation

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The following is a Guest Article contributed by our community member, Cyclops. Here he presents his lifelong experience with cycling, albeit in an unorthodox manner. Such lifelong relationships with cycling are what La Vie Velominatus is all about.  This story also sheds some light on Cyclops’ VSP Picks of, “Eddy, Eddy, Eddy, Eddy, Eddy.” We hope you enjoy the tale; if you have an article you would like to contribute, please let us know.

Yours in cycling, The Keepers

As is the wont of many kids I started wrenching on Schwinn Stingrays in the 70’s. I remember asking incredulously, “How do you stop?” when my buddy told me that the hot set-up for BMXing was something called a ‘freewheel’. As is prone to happen, BMX racing fell by the wayside as I discovered girls and then entered adulthood under the nurture of the United States Marine Corps. Once the Marine Corps ‘encouraged’ me to return to the civilian world, I found myself back to the BMX bike. Due to a form of free enterprise that is frowned upon by law enforcement agencies, I found myself with a windfall of cash and a desire to get an ‘adult’ bike.

I walked into the Bike Gallery in Portland in my best death metal jean vest and a fistful of cash. I informed the BG minions that I wanted a Bridgestone. This desire was fueled by the simple statement of a room mate – “Get a Bridgestone, dude. They rule.”  (This room mate was a fellow stoner burnout who pulled a late life metamorphosis and is now known to the NW cycling world as Eddie French.)  I picked out a Bridgestone 600 and lamented the fact that it didn’t have those extra brake levers so that you could brake while having your hands on the flats. I did, however, persuade the salesman to throw on some of those awesome foam Grab-On grips.  In a fate that would be repeated with future bikes, the Bridgestone was soon trashed when I bounced off the back of a VW Bug while playing Ricky Road Racer around a blind corner. Back to the BMX bike.

Ironically, I ended up working at the Bike Gallery (in the BMX department) a few years later. Two of the more anal-retentive mechanics noticed that I had some mechanical skill and that I listened to instruction well, so they took me under their wings and taught me the correct way to work on a bicycle. Being a Marine, I naturally gravitated toward the “attention to detail” aspect of wrenching. I started BMX racing again and all my race bikes were completely dialed-in with Campy track hubs – the only sound they ever made was that of the tire’s knobs pounding the pavement or the clicking of the freewheel. I was such a tweeker that since Campy hubs had Grade #1 ball bearings, I would take my single-speed freewheels apart and replace the bearings with Grade #1 and grease ’em up with Campy white lithium.  (As a sidenote, I found myself banging elbows on the BMX track with the then unknown Todd Littlehales. If you are interested in any extortion attempts I have a picture of him wearing pink BMX leathers.)

The mechanics soon started wooing me back to the dark side and I purchased an aluminum Super Record Guerciotti. I had the Guerciotti about three weeks before some wench in (another) VW Bug did a left hand turn in front of me. Back to the BMX bike.

Somehow or another I found myself in San Leandro, Ca looking for work. It just so happens that Bridgestone USA was based in San Leandro. While they didn’t have a permanent position for me they did need all their new bikes assembled for the ’91 Interbike show; I took the job and found myself assembling show bikes with the infamous Pineapple Bob. I traded my services for a brand new Bridgestone RB-1.

I ended up moving back to (Salem) Oregon and got a job at a local shop. My first day there an unsavory looking gent walked in and loudly proclaimed, “ED-DDDDY!!!!” As it turned out, he was a mechanic at the shop, too. I was, however, curious as to how a fellow bike mechanic could afford a new Porsche 911. As it happened, he was also a surgeon that happened to have grown tired of medicinal politics and decided to snub the medical community by turning to his passion for all things road bike. Most mornings where spent being regaled by the good doctor with tales of Eddy’s [Merckx, Ed] prowess. Either that or a lamenting of the doctor’s wife’s not being able to understand why he works at a bike shop.

For reasons of a marital nature called ‘divorce’ I found myself in S.E. Idaho in the mid 90’s, again working at a bike shop. There was a strong BMX scene there at the time so I was back to the BMX bike. But then ‘life’ happened and ten years later I found myself fat and bikeless. Four years ago a friend gave me a killer deal on a used Dura Ace-equipped Cannondale and the rest, as they say, is history. Now I’m the one who lives and breathes all things road racing. I’ve lost a total of 45 pounds over the course of the last four seasons and if you happened to see the article in the Nov/Dec 2009 issue of Road Bike Action magazine called “My First Road Race” (page 76) that’s me. It’s the story of how in the span of three years I went from a fat lard-ass to winning the first road race I entered – the Bear Lake Classic near Logan, Utah. Since I’ll be 50 next year I don’t know that I will ever upgrade from a Cat 5 but I sure am having fun! Now if I could just get me something sexy and Italian which also goes to 11, I could die a happy man.

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// Guest Article

  1. Great story, man. It’s nice to get to know people who hang out here better. Having fun is where it’s at — I’m doing my first race in a month or so, and that’s going to be my plan as well. Cheers.

  2. Great article.

    That Lounge jersey…that wouldn’t be indicative of any involvement in “The Lounge” at the RoadBikeReview.com Forums would it?

  3. Great story – fun read. Welcome back to the fold. I also bought a ’91 RB-1 and still have it. I did a bike shop stint in the ’80s as well.

    I’ve never raced on the road, but at 49 years old, get my ass kicked occasionally in a mountain bike race.

    Do some more writing. Sounds like you have some cool stories to share.

  4. Nice article mate… I’m almost of the same era as you, being a BMXer in the late 70s early 80s. If you’ve seen the movie Joe Kid On A Stingray, you’d probably see a lot of yourself in there, as I do. Thanks for the memories!

  5. Excellent. Enjoyed that – and not merely because I am an ex-lard-arse-turned-skinny-fella obsessed by road-biking as I start to close in on 50 …

  6. great one Cyclops, actually, i read the article of your ‘recovery’ in the mag. Great one, keep it up.

  7. Nice article, now I want another one about your obsessive attention to detail. It’s what a velominati craves

  8. @Omar

    But of course. Now you just have to figure out who I am. Pretty big clues in my article though.

    @All

    Thanks guys.

  9. That picture of him in those old-school Sidi’s and the 7-Eleven jersey is just too much for me. I love it. I have absolutely no idea what Cyclops actually does for work, but he did hook me up with the first Velominati pint glass which put me in touch with the guy who makes those and the decals. Cyclops also designed the kit that he’s cornering in, in the last picture. Pretty cool stuff. I always love reading people’s stories like this. Well done, mate.

  10. @Jarvis

    I want another one about your obsessive attention to detail. It’s what a velominati craves

    You never disappoint me.

    @Cyclops
    I second @Jarvis’s’s’s’s call for a follow-up. Get on it!

  11. @Cyclops
    Is Winnie the Poo wearing a fucking Sailor’s hat? And check out that awesome old TV/VCR. Just looking at that room is too classic!

    By the way, in the last pic, did you shave your goatee soas to be in compliance with Rule #50?

  12. Oh, BTW, The picture of me in the 7-Eleven jersey was taken in my sister’s apartment. I, in no way, condone the use of baby bottles, Playboy Bunnies, shag carpet, monstrous VCR’s or any combination thereof, and no stuffed animals were harmed in the taking of that picture.

  13. frank :@Cyclops

    By the way, in the last pic, did you shave your goatee soas to be in compliance with Rule #50?

    Absolutely.

  14. Jarvis :Nice article, now I want another one about your obsessive attention to detail. It’s what a velominati craves

    Here’s just a taste: When lacing wheels with Campy Record hubs you must orientate the hubs so that the oiling hole on the hub is 180 degrees from the valve stem hole. The reason being is that if your bike is hanging on the wall on one of those racks that gentle cradles the top tube the weight of the valve stem – if your hubs are adjusted correctly – will cause the wheels to rotate and stop with the valve stems at the 6 o’clock position (12 o’clock for all you Down Underers?) This will place the oil hole in the 12 o’clock position with no chance for the tenacious oil to seep out and attract dust and the scorn of the Detail Nazis.

  15. When lacing wheels with Campy Record hubs you must orientate the hubs so that the oiling hole on the hub is 180 degrees from the valve stem hole. The reason being is that if your bike is hanging on the wall on one of those racks that gentle cradles the top tube the weight of the valve stem – if your hubs are adjusted correctly – will cause the wheels to rotate and stop with the valve stems at the 6 o’clock position (12 o’clock for all you Down Underers?) This will place the oil hole in the 12 o’clock position with no chance for the tenacious oil to seep out and attract dust

    Oh. My. Word. That is fucking awesome.

  16. @cyclops
    either you are tiny or that TV is huge.

  17. @Jarvis

    either you are tiny or that TV is huge.

    I’ve been trying to figure out who the person is on the tele. Can’t quite make it out, but I have a feeling that in addition to the documented association with Playboy Bunnies and Teddy Bears, you may also be seen here watching “Little House on the Prairie”.

    A quick skim reveals the following topics that need clarification, in addition to a comprehensive lexicon of “Detail Wrenching”.

    Once the Marine Corps ‘encouraged’ me to return to the civilian world, I found myself back to the BMX bike.

    We need some scope around what it means to be “encouraged” by the corps.

    This room mate was a fellow stoner burnout who pulled a late life metamorphosis and is now known to the NW cycling world as Eddie French

    A quick Googling has revealed nothing helpful here. Please elaborate.

    As a sidenote, I found myself banging elbows on the BMX track with the then unknown Todd Littlehales. If you are interested in any extortion attempts I have a picture of him wearing pink BMX leathers.

    I think I just figured out how this site can make money. Post the picture, and then he can pay us to take it down later.

    I purchased an aluminum Super Record Guerciotti

    This statement is useless without photos.

  18. @frank

    The Marine Corp frowns on their sergeants partaking of Da Kine.

    I think Ed French races for the Fred Meyer or the Guiness cycling team in Portland.

    Sorry, no pix of the Guerciotti.

  19. @Cyclops
    BMXhacksaw, is that you?
    – bikenerd, a former Lounge lurker

  20. Maybe.

  21. @cyclops:

    Here’s just a taste: When lacing wheels with Campy Record hubs you must orientate the hubs so that the oiling hole on the hub is 180 degrees from the valve stem hole. The reason being is that if your bike is hanging on the wall on one of those racks that gentle cradles the top tube the weight of the valve stem – if your hubs are adjusted correctly – will cause the wheels to rotate and stop with the valve stems at the 6 o’clock position (12 o’clock for all you Down Underers?) This will place the oil hole in the 12 o’clock position with no chance for the tenacious oil to seep out and attract dust and the scorn of the Detail Nazis.

    Cyclops – awesome article. Thank you. And I love the taster on the inner-detail-nazi. My wheelbuilder – who, admittedly, thinks I’m an idiot, because I ask for all my spokes to be anodised black, except for the ones either side of the valve, which should be silver – got really pissed with me on the last set of wheels he did for me (Cadence Aeros with bladed spokes – love them), as I sent them back to be relaced as he hadn’t aligned the pmp hub logo with the valve/hub decal. I did forward him the Rouleur article on wheelbuilding that said master wheelbuilders instinctively build wheels this way, and he saw the light. I loved your description of the valve / oil duct thing, for a weird reason: I hang my bike on the wall above my desk in my study (the wife won’t have “that fucking bike” anywhere in the house where she goes) … and for months have been wondering why my valve always ends up at 12 o’clock on both front and rear tyre (i.e. valve at top)… now that you tell me it should be at 6 o’clock, I’m now sure there is a definite reason. But anyhow. Boring. OutSTANDING article, fully squared away: question…. can you tell us more about what is behind the “form of free enterprise that is frowned upon by law enforcement agencies, I found myself with a windfall of cash”… or is it still within various statutes?

  22. @frank: “I’ve been trying to figure out who the person is on the tele”

    I hadn’t got past a) the hair; b) the teddies. You sir, are a legend. Your attention to detail is truly inspiring. I dread the day your eyes see a photo of my steed, and – terminator like (proper Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 in infra-red) – My rule-infringements will scroll down your vision like a shopping list, even though I’m sure I’m rule compliant.

    Although, if we are serious, and next year’s hillclimb in Pacific NW Cougar Hill will be a call to arms of Velominati from across the globe… you may even get to read me the riot act in person. Pour encourager les autres and all that.

  23. @roadslaveYes, I think the Cougar Mountain Time Trial should be the main event for the 2011 Grand Congregation of the Velominati, and forget the Team Classification…we should shoot for the podium!

  24. That is quite a tale of cycling redemption. Well lived and well written. As I admired your 7-Eleven photo I tried to imagine what sort of marital bliss you had carved out for yourself with the rare combination of playboy swag and baby toys. Generally too much playboy swag leads to divorce or discord at least.
    But this is your sister’s place…hmmmmmmmmmm, now I’m still confused.

    Regarding your attention to detail. I don’t have that affliction but I’m impressed, I’ve built wheels with Campy hubs but never thought to orient the hub as you have described. That is obsessive, and cool.

  25. Coinciding with your return to competitive riding, have you also spent time as a pro tennis player. Check the likeness between a young Cyclops and Marcos Baghdatis.

    And if that doesn’t interest you, just check the chick with Marcos!

    http://www.theage.com.au/ffximage/2006/01/23/open5_gallery__470x343.jpg

    Oh yeah, cool article. Chapeau.

  26. @john
    perhaps the marital bliss is also something the law enforcement agencies frown upon…

  27. Just got back from some camping and a little bit of Velotopia. Thanks for all the kind words.

    To clarify some things:

    Due to a form of free enterprise that is frowned upon by law enforcement agencies, I found myself with a windfall of cash…

    = Growing the killer Hindu Kush in my basement. But that was 25 years ago, I grew up and became a respectable individual. Now my only vices are road bikes and grilling on my stainless steel Weber Genesis S-310

  28. Cyclops :Now my only vices are road bikes and grilling on my stainless steel Weber Genesis S-310

    Does that make you a Grillominatus? (Sorry …)

  29. Those JT racing pants were the shit, pink no less. And is that a HARO jersey with Vans high tops? Very cool. Reminds me of racing around on either my PK Ripper or Redline Proline II (straitline handlebars, Oakly Grips)in the early 80’s learning to do 360’s and table tops. My buddy Kevin Nesbitt had a VDC Chenga, as rode by Shawn Texas. That was a cool bike too. It’s all flooding back to me. Much appreciated Cyclops.

  30. Ah the PK Ripper. Used to think that the aluminum welding on the ripper was so cool back then.

  31. Actually, 45 + 35 + 35 + 35 = 150 pounds total. But it’s sort of like hill climbing. Just because you climb 50,000 feet, doesn’t mean you’re on top of a 50,000 foot mountain.

  32. Well then it would be more like 35 + 10 + 15 + 35 = 95 but that’s still a lot of weight if you look at it that way.

  33. Thanks for sharing I enjoying this piece immensely.

  34. @Cyclops. Still reading thru old articles here. Love the photo, and while I knew you lived in Vantucky and Stumptown, I didn’t know that we know the same people. Todd L. swept my front wheel at PIR while trying to squeeze into a gap too small for him while setting up for the final sprint in the I/II/III field. The resulting crash is still talked about some 18 years later. (I lost teeth and was KO’d for 5min, Harry Finney ended up in the trauma system at Emanuel, bunch of guys with broken bikes and body parts). Eddy still races, tho I don’t see him as often, same with Todd. I’d venture a guess that our paths have crossed. I bought my first “real” race bike from BG. OCLV Trek 5200. Cool shit!

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