Bicycles are our bread and butter and raison d’être at Bike Nashbar, but as we’re solidly into the throes of May and National Bike Month even we manage to up the ante and truly have bikes on the brain round the clock. The underlying sentiment of National Bike Month is to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and for those of us with plenty of years and plenty of miles in the bank inevitably conversation swings to magical machines we’ve owned that still strike a certain chord to this day.
And my favorite bike? Behold the following photo and a step back to the 1980s:
A future Nashbar copywriter competes at the 1986 Tour of Somerville
The year is 1986, the event is the venerable Tour of Somerville in Somerville, New Jersey, a race that doubled as the junior men’s National Criterium Championship, and I’m on board a Columbus SL steel Razesa decked out with the workhorse gruppo of the era in Campagnolo Nuovo Record. There’s probably a 6-speed freewheel on the rear wheel and, yes, toe clips and straps were still the order of the day when it came to pedals.
Aesthetically, this is hands down the favorite of any bike I’ve ever owned. The iridescent blue paint, the chrome, the fastback stays–that’s major league suave style. Razesa is a Spanish bike with quite a pedigree – Pedro Delgado and Miguel Indurain rode Razesas early in their pro careers.
While matching the decals, the yellow Benotto tape was rooted in the Renault-Elf Gitane aesthetics: blue frame, yellow Benotto tape, yellow Turbo saddle, yellow brake cable housing. So many training rides were spent imagining I was Greg LeMond dropping Faustino Ruperez in Altenrhein, Switzerland on my way to the 1983 pro world championship; or I imagined I was Greg LeMond battling Sean Kelly all the way to the line in one of the greatest classics of all time: the 1983 Giro di Lombardia.
The Cinelli 65 criterium bend bars served as homage to legendary fast finisher Davis Phinney, in the prime of his career at this point in time. Somehow, I thought that the criterium bend bars were the secret to developing enviable finishing speed. My career palmares have definitively put the Cinelli 65 Theory to rest since I’ve never won a single race by outsprinting anyone. Ever. I arrive alone or I lose.
Notice the single water bottle cage…Even though I had braze-ons for a seat tube water bottle cage I didn’t use it because my Euro heroes never seemed to need a second cage. Thirst be damned. Of course, I didn’t understand at the time that Euro pros had domestiques or team cars fetching their bottles all day long rendering a 2nd bottle cage moot. Me? I just grew prematurely parched in solitude.
And what’s past is present as the aesthetic of that bulky, minimally ventilated Vetta helmet has come back into vogue with today’s new crop of aero helmets. And the jersey? ’80s. VINTAGE. NASHBAR! Who knew that years later my life would come full circle as I’m now gainfully employed as a writer by that very same company.
I honestly have no recollection of my results that day other than I finished, neither first nor last, but every time I spy that photo it serves as a powerful reminder of how my life’s path, while as meandering and still evolving as anyone’s, has been rooted and still shaped by a passion for bicycles. The unbridled enthusiasm and vivid imagination of that wide-eyed teenager, eager for each and every new day that he could get out on a bike and see the world, still flows unabated. Bicycles are truly magical mechanical wonders: a means to travel, explore and roam unfettered fueled simply by your own heart, lungs and muscles, and a creator and repository for memories, from the distant past to just yesterday.
At Bike Nashbar we truly aim to promote the beauty of cycling and strive to be a partner in your own memory-making endeavors.
And with that, what bicycle, past or present, would you count as your favorite?