It’s been a looooong time since I last banged out a story or report or posted anything new. Why? Call it life.
Like many of you, I spend a lot of time at work in front of a computer. Unlike may of you, I assume, my time at the keyboard is filled with writing and editing stories and creating and editing photos and artwork. It’s an awful lot like managing a Blog. Often, the last thing I want to do when I get home from a long day typing and mousing-around on the Mac, is sit down and do more of it.
Not to mention, I’ve never ever made any effort whatsoever, to monetize this. So, the motivation to keep at it waxes and wanes. Mostly the latter.
Where Have I Been?
What have I been up to since August 14, 2011? Well, I left VSI where I was the marketing manager for Intense BMX and a slew of other brands, to help Toby Henderson launch the Box Components brand. My title was Brand Manager but my job duties included, but we not limited to, product design, product management, marketing, team and rider liaison, sponsorship director/coordinator, graphic designer, mechanic, event marketing guy, copy writer and, of course, brand management.
As you may know, Box was a very very successful brand launch. Within two years, I’d estimate Box was the number one component brand in BMX racing. We developed some 80 or more products from scratch under the Box and Promax brand names, won something like 10 Elite and Junior BMX World Championships and were the official number plate supplier to the Rio Olympic Games. I’m quite proud of what we did there in those just three or four years.
Last July, I needed a change, so I left Box to help lead a relaunch of the Airborne Bicycles brand. It was a tall order. The brand had been through so many iterations, owners, managers and visions since its inception in 1999, no one knew what it was. Few even knew it existed still. I also was going to help DK Bikes with product development.
As when I was at Box, I was given one title—Brand Manager—but lots of duties. My main job was to be product manager and create a new bike line. My vision was to take our product up market by improving quality and spec, developing relationships with high-end brands and, eventually, develop our own innovative product lines. This would allow us to improve margins.
Step one, was to simply put together a bike line that told a cohesive story of who Airborne is with more than pinch of quality and value. While, at the same time, actually make some money.
This was to be a multi-year process with the first step—a new bike like–taking 18 to 24 months. After less than a year, management grew impatient with my progress and let me go.
I put together a very nice 12 or 13-model line up of mountain, road and cyclocross bikes. The first of my new bikes were to arrive only two months after I celebrated my one-year anniversary there. Most of the rest would arrive, if all went well, in the spring. The remaining models would be there in the summer, in time for ‘cross season. I hope to see some, if not all, of my bikes for sale some time soon. Again, I’m proud of the work I did there.
Back at it With a Twist
So, once again, as when I started this Blog, I find myself seeking employment. It’s not a bad thing, really. At least it’s not as emotionally debilitating as it was the last time. And I don’t plan to go back to school and rack up another $60K in student loan debt. All I need at this point in my life, is to make enough money to pay my bills and lead a simple life. If more comes, I won’t complain. But my focus is going to be on quality of life. I’m no longer interested in making or willing to make major personal sacrifices for a low-paying job that requires me to work 60+ hours per week. Been there. Done that.
Since my departure from Airborne/DK, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what’s next. What I’d love to do, is find a way to make a living involved in the world of vintage road cycling, a not-so-new passion of mine.
I’m not interested in buying old bikes and parts low and selling them high. I dig all that, but not as a way to make a living. I enjoy to riding my bikes. Looking for bike deals is a time-consuming affair, unless you’re established and people know to find you. Maybe that will come.
No, I want to do something else. I have a lot of ideas. Not a lot of funding with which to launch them, however.
Initially, I’m going to launch a line of T-shirts featuring some of my vintage BMX and road bike inspired imagery. If that goes well, I’ll move on to the next step. If it doesn’t go well, maybe it will end up like my number plates—steady but small sales. I can’t pay my bills or eat well on number plate sales, but they do allow me to occasionally pick up a nice vintage road bike part or two.
I’ve also started doing a series of vintage road bike portraits. Some of the images are my personal bikes. Others are bikes I’d like to add to my collection. Still others are the bikes ridden to victory by my cycling heroes. I am looking into to doing a series of limited-edition fine art prints of these and the components above. If there is interest, I might even do commissions of bikes from other collectors.
Riding Old Road Bikes
About three years ago, I read about an event called L’Eroica. It was a bike ride in Italy started some 20 years ago to celebrate the heroics of road cyclists of the past. To participate, you had to ride a bike no newer than 1987, had to use toe clips, down tube shifters, non-aero brake levers and ride in period-correct clothing. It sounded awesome. I had been doing this by myself back in the 1990s.
I bought my first vintage road bike back in 1995. It was an early Italian-made Masi with Campagnolo Nuovo Record parts. I bought wool jerseys and shorts and a pair of vintage shoes. I rode the bike in era-correct garb all the time. I was the only guy I knew doing it. I didn’t care. I just liked riding the old bike. Sadly, I sold the bike just before moving to California in 2001. It’s probably here somewhere, still. I believe the buyer, a woman, was in the San Diego area.
Anyway, I had to do L’Eroica. But getting to Italy was not going to be easy—financially speaking. When I went to the L’Eroica website, I discovered there was a ride in California, not 250 miles from me. Yay! I started looking for a bike. With the help of a friend in the Netherlands, I found the frame I was looking for in Denmark. I was able to build a replica Team Hitachi bike in a few months using parts I bought a long, long time ago at a Velo Swap in Denver and newly acquired parts. Soon I had the beginning of my outfit, too.
I missed the following Eroica California due to work. But I was able to get a couple other bikes to ride, if I chose to, and a bunch of new vintage clothing to go with them.
I signed up for the 2017 Eroica California with finger crossed no work would get in the way. As time was running out, I had my friend Dave Marietti at Hot Shoppe Designs in San Clemente make me a set of replica Hitachi Team bib shorts. I made the art work and his people did the printing, cutting and sewing in record times I could look my best at the ride in April.
I looked good, if I may say so myself, if a tad overweight. The ride was a blast and despite suffering more than I had in any race ever before (due more to my poor fitness than the difficulty of course, although it was difficult) I couldn’t wait to go back.
Ride Like Roger (pronounced Ro-djay)
As of this past summer, I added two new bikes to my collection. Both are Gioses. One is a real honest-to-god Brooklyn Team bike. I’m a huge fan of the Brooklyn Team and it’s star Roger de Vlaeminck. I put out word that I wanted a Gios from the 1970s. Within hours, two in my size were presented to me as for sale. Unfortunately, both were 1979s, two years after the Brooklyn Team disbanded and one year after Gios changed the frame graphics and fork design. I wanted a Brooklyn Gios from between 1973 and 1977. About a month later, I found one in Belgium. And it was even a Brooklyn Team rider’s old frame. Better yet, it was my size–53c-c X 54 c-c. Not many bikes are built with that geometry.
It took waaaaay too long to get and after the seller balked on his promise to sell me all the parts I needed to build it perfectly era-correct, waaaaaaay too long to make ridable. But it was worth it. It is, hands-down, my favorite vintage road bike in my collection. The limits of Nuovo Record when compared to Super Record, not withstanding.
Along the way, when I was calling a seller about a Gios pantographed chainring, I accidentally bought a second Gios. This one, a 1979 model with Super Record. It also is a fantastic bike to ride.
My plan for Eroica California this year is to ride the Brooklyn Team Gios in full Brooklyn kit. I’ve already purchased a replica jersey and plan to get matching wool shorts from the fine folks at Magliamo in Belgium.
Last year, I picked the newer Merckx over my super-sexy Colnago Roger de Vlaeminck because I could run a 39 or 38-tooth front chaining with a 28-tooth rear cog without bastardizing the bike with modern parts or using a non-racer long-cage rear derailleur. I wanted to keep it strictly real. I was simply too fat and too weak to push the 42 (41 available) x 24 gearing the RdV had on it.
This year, however, I’ve been training on the 1973 Gios Brooklyn bike, RdV and 1979 Gios almost exclusively since July. I also ride the Merckx, but it, like the others just mentioned, is now fitted with a 41-tooth front chainring. I have a range of max rear cogs on the other bikes, depending on what the derailleur can handle and what I own, of 23 to 26.
For Eroica California, I’d like to get a 28 to work, which I hear is possible with a later Super Record derailleur. Still unsure if the earlier Super Records can handle a 26 or 28 instead of the max of 24 for the Nuovo Record. Just not sure I want to put a 1980 derailleur on my 1973 bike.
I’ve noticed a big improvement in strength and endurance lately and have lost about 12 ponds over the past three or four months. If I keep this up, I should hit my weight loss goal of 30 to 40 pounds by April and be plenty fit enough to push the 41×24 or 26 gearing up the steep hills outside Paso Robles.
So, that’s where I’m at. Other than to say, today, I started applying for jobs. The first one I applied for has me super, super excited. I hope they call.