Europe is full of history, ancient buildings filled with original masterpieces of art that you can spend days discovering. Looking at these artworks lasts but a moment, the only way to retain their majesty by memory or memory card. Other works of art take different forms, and some of these can be taken with you. For a price.
No amount of dollar value can be put on the experience of meeting the master who created your own piece of art. You can buy a Matisse print, but you’ll never get to have him paint your portrait or invite you in for lunch. I feel privileged to have had the chance to commission a work, see its progress, and finally take delivery of it from the very artisan who created it. From the moment I met Diel and Steven at Ateliers Jaegher in Ruiselede a lifetime bond was forged. These guys live La Vie Velominatus, and enhance LvV of many others who are lucky enough to have a bicycle crafted by them.
It felt almost like stealing a baby from its parent when I wheeled my machine out the door. I could sense that Diel is like the surrogate who offers his services happily, but feels a tinge of regret when he finally has to let go. And as the benefactor, one has an unspoken pact to take extra good care and report back on the progress of the relationship at frequent intervals. As we prepared to tackle Roubaix together, Diel cast a long look over my bike, no doubt making sure the wet baptism that it received on its initial rides around Kemmel and crashing on the slippery Roubaix pavé hadn’t scarred it in any way. I was relieved when he finally smiled and wheeled his own grey beast away towards the milling riders.
The difference between a bicycle and a painting or sculpture is that the bicycle isn’t just great to look at. You wouldn’t pour the dinner wine from the Portland Vase, or use the corner of Les Poissons Rouges to write your shopping list on, but you can ride the bike. You can cover it in mud until it’s unrecognisable, but appreciate the visual beauty still. You can drop it on the ground and it won’t disintegrate, you can change the way it looks, and be in love all over again. You can’t repaint a van Gogh every couple of years, but you can a Jaegher.
*Many thanks to everyone who helped make this dream come true for me: Steven at Jaegher for all his patient answering of my questions and helping decide on colours etc, and the precision build; Diel at Jaegher for crafting my masterpiece which I am so happy with; Nicolo at fi'zi:k for his continued support of Velominati and supplying the beautiful cockpit components; Joshua at Campagnolo for his support and recommendation/supply of the Shamal wheels; Kyle at Chris King for the outstanding headset; Dave and Alex at Worralls NZ for the help with the Super Record gruppo; Graeme at CycleSport NZ for the outstanding Vittoria Pavé CG tyres; Jonny at Bikes International NZ for the Time Xpresso pedals. All your contributions are much appreciated and your products essential to completing this amazing and satisfying project. Chapeau.
Also thanks to the supporters of Keepers Tour 2015: Brett at Handlebar Mustache for the BTFU musettes; Martin at Isadore Apparel for the styling caps; Nicolo at fi'zi:k for the rolls of bar tape; and of course our ever-awesome partners William and Alex at Pavé Cycling Classics for being the best guides around and great lifelong friends. Our fantastic guests, a pleasure to ride with you all and call you friends. You all made this the best KT yet.
Frame: Jaegher Interceptor, 57cm, Columbus Spirit tubing, Gritty Grey/Jaegher Orange. Columbus carbon fork, carbon steerer.
Groupset: Campagnolo Super Record 11, 175mm cranks 53/39, 11-27 cassette.
Wheels: Campagnolo Shamal Mille clinchers.
Tyres: Vittoria Pavé CG 27mm.
Bars/stem: fi'zi:k Cyrano R1 carbon 44mm c-c, Cyrano R1 120mm (custom painted), fi'zi:k 3mm Soft Touch tape.
Headset: Chris King NoThreadset, external 1 1/8″.
Saddle/post: fi'zi:k Aliante R3 carbon braided, Cyrano R1 carbon 27.2.
Pedals: Time Xpresso 4.
Cages: King Cage titanium.
Extras: V-Cufflinks (bar plugs).