Collector Profiles Reporting

Pat Moffat Profile and Interview

When I stop in at Pat’s Moffat’s place to visit, he sits on his immaculate 1966 Vespa scooter and offers me the vintage barber’s chair. It is that kind of place. I try to be fully present, to maintain eye contact and follow the conversation, but it is supremely difficult. You see, Pat Moffat and I both ride 61-62-or 63cm sized bikes–tall frames for our tall frames–and his backyard outbuilding is packed full of nearly every lightweight vintage racing bicycle I’ve ever dreamed of owning. A few of them are even for sale or trade. On this day, I’m sitting with my back to an orange and black French beauty that will be coming home with me, a 1973 Motobecane Super Champion that I’ve wanted since I first laid on it several years ago, but that is a story for another post.

I don’t really know what to call Pat’s backyard outbuilding, which is tucked behind his house in a shady Tempe neighborhood near ASU. Is it a cottage, retreat, hut, shed, or shack? The trendy term would be “man cave,” which is somewhat accurate, as the building has almost no windows, and like in a casino, it is easy to loose all track of time there. The lack of windows is practical, as one cannot very well situate more hooks to hang more bicycles over a window. There is a backlit Raleigh Bicycle sign, an antique cash register, and a huge oil painting of a 1970s Motobecane Grand Record bicycle, with an actual Grand Record of the same vintage sitting just a few feet from the painting. It is a welcoming space, and its treasures are neatly arranged: a column of 3t, Cinelli, and Nitto stems hang along s shelf; old filing cabinets hold Campagnolo derailleurs, saddles, and pedals; another wall displays a variety of cranksets the way some would present a collection of cuckoo clocks. The space is sophisticated and eclectic: besides the Vespa and barber’s chair, there is a turntable and a vinyl record collection, a poster advertising a Rolling Stones album release, a Navajo rug hung on a wall, and secluded reading room. Pat likes to read and write, and it is the only room in his domain somewhat free of bicycle stuff.   I aspire to have such an artfully arranged and welcoming space for my bicycles and my bicycle enthusiast friends. In many ways, Pat’s collection is what every collector dreams of: a space that fully expresses and integrates ones bicycling, creative, and family life. Or, as Pat puts it, “it’s not just a bike shop, it’s who I am as a human.”

I’ve known Pat longer than I’ve known any other serious bicycle collector; he has invited me to his front yard bike swap with other collectors from all over Arizona. His generosity and enthusiasm for bicycles is contagious. When I began thinking about creating, I knew he’d be first in my series of “Collector Profiles.” Below is the interview I conducted with Pat February 5, 2016. Additionally, you can view a gallery of images here, and a short video here.

Q: How did you get interested in bicycles? Can you pinpoint when you got hooked?

A: Sixty five years ago, when I was a kid we lived in Boulder, Montana, a dirt-street town of about 500 people. We took a trip to Helena when I was in the third grade. I saw a Hawthorn bicycle in a department store window. I couldn’t stop looking at it. My mom told me that if I saved up half of the money, she would chip in the rest. I haven’t been without a bicycle since I was eight years old.

In 1956 we moved to Tempe, Arizona. I became a paperboy and delivered both the Arizona Republic and the Tempe Daily News by bicycle. My route was between the [Salt] River bottom and Priest Road. It was dark and there were mean dogs. I bought the heaviest bicycle I could find. During that time, I’d find $10 bikes and fix them.

After graduating from ASU, I took a job teaching 4th grade and bought a 1970 American Eagle—my first ten speed racing style bicycle.

Q: What was the first bike you really loved?

A: In the mid-eighties, somebody gave me a Sunset Magazine with an article about the “Almost Across Arizona: Grand Canyon to Mexico Bike Ride.” The people in the photos looked like me, they didn’t shave their legs, they were older than me, and they were riding 600 miles. I decided I would do the ride.

I bought a used Schwinn Voyager II with a leather Ideale saddle on it. It was quick and I could ride it much further than I could on my American Eagle. I decided to upgrade and bought a brand new, and expensive for me, 1985 Trek 720 touring bike from Landis Cyclery. I bought it in October and trained for a year. I’d ride to Saguaro Lake and back from the Fiesta Mall area [in Mesa, Arizona].

 That next October, in 1986,was my first “Almost Across Arizona” ride on the 720. I bonked every day for eight days, but I loved the ride. But back to the first bicycle I loved—we were riding near Sunset Crater [on the Almost Across Arizona ride], and a guy rides up next to me on a red Schwinn Paramount. It was so beautiful I just kept staring at it. Its chrome Nervex lugs mesmerized me. He told me I could find one used pretty easily. It was all over for me. I bought a beat up 1972 Paramount that I found in the Arizona Republic classified ads and repainted it myself.  

Q: How many bicycles are currently in your collection?

A: 52, and I’ve had as many as 120. I had a two-story outbuilding barn. I filled that barn up and had to build an annex. I had to sell 40 bikes to move in with Julie [Pat’s wife], but she was worth it!

Q: If you had to limit your collection to only three bikes, which would you choose?

A: 1. 1987 Andy Gilmour built from Columbus SPX tubing. 2. 1972 Chrome Schwinn Paramount P-13. 3. 1972 Red Schwinn Paramount

Q: Have you set any guidelines or rules you follow when acquiring new bicycles?

A: I don’t buy bikes that don’t fit me, but I do make exceptions if they are too rare to pass up, like the Dick Power Special I once bought that now belongs to Ken Wallace. I don’t go looking for bikes, I let them come to me. I see myself standing in the middle of a shallow clear river. Hundreds of bicycles float by, and every once in a while, I pluck one out. In the 30 years I’ve collected bicycles, I’ve probably looked at 10,000 bicycles, but only purchased a very select few.

Q: Which frame builders, makers, or manufacturers do you think are under-appreciated?

A: Keith Lippy and Andy Gilmour.

Q: Is there a bicycle have you’ve always wanted but have been unable to add to your collection?

A: An early 1960s Peugeot PX-10 with the blue paint and contrasting yellow lugs. If I found one, I might buy it even if it wasn’t my size.

Q: What are your favorite components in each of the following categories: cranksets, derailleurs, brakes, pedals, handlebars, stems, and saddles?

A: Crankset: Special Gipieme with black chainring bolts; derailleur: Campagnolo Rally, 1st Generation; brakes: Modolo Equipe; pedals: anodized Campagnolo Super Record; Handlebars: Nitto Mustache; stem: Nitto Technomic; Saddle: Brooks Professional Lüden chopped and riveted or an Ideale Daniel Rebour signature.

Q: Do you have a favorite manufacturer’s logo, or bicycle industry related graphic?

A: TA Specialties, particularly the logo they put on their chainrings.

Q: What is your favorite cycling book?

A: The Complete Book of Bicycling by Eugene Sloan. If I’m building a fixie, I still look at the gear chart in the back. It is a useful book.

Q: Do you enjoy listening to music while you work on bicycles? If so, what do you play?

A: I have a lot of vinyl and when I’m working on a bike I want to listen to something I can listen to straight though. I like Leonard Cohen, Jefferson Airplane, and Springsteen.

Q: What is the most fun you’ve ever had on a bike? Is there a ride, race, or tour that stands out when you think back?

A: The Sonoita to Bisbee ride, sponsored by GABA [Greater Arizona Bicycling Association] was like a rolling party. It was so much fun. You get to Bisbee and pitch a tent in the church yard next to the Copper Queen hotel. GABA would get a couple of hotel rooms so everyone could shower. One year, line for the showers was out the door and down the hall, so a couple of us went into a room that was being made up, bribed the maid with ten bucks, and showered there.

Q: How does your family feel about your collection?

A: My boys love the shop and don’t want me to sell anything. They grew up in the space. My wife Julie is more than supportive. She gets me and accepts me for who I am. So many collectors I read about on the Classic Rendezvous list have to hide their purchases from their wives, but when I buy a bike, I roll it through the front door, lean it on the buffet, and ask Julie, “How do you like it?” She understands what bicycles mean to me.

Q: As far as your bicycling life goes, what is the next thing you are looking forward to?

A: I’ve never had a cyclocross bike, and now I have an Alan cyclocross frameset that I’m excited to build up. [Pat acquired the said frameset in trade from the interviewer a few minutes before the interview].

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  • Reply
    John Wilson
    February 12, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    Scott – Great website and interview. Like most everyone on CR, Pat looks absolutely nothing like I pictured him. We are all like-minded, though. Keep up the good work!

    • Reply
      The Beautiful Bicycle
      February 13, 2016 at 9:20 am

      Thanks for reading John. I’m really enjoying getting to interview people like Pat.

  • Reply
    John Murray
    February 13, 2016 at 4:16 am

    Scott, fabulous web site, Pat Moffat is a great guy, wish I could me and chat with him AND check out his man cave(wow) Look forward to reading other interviews as they appear
    John Murray

    • Reply
      The Beautiful Bicycle
      February 13, 2016 at 9:17 am

      Pat is even more interesting than I was able to convey in the story. His man cave is certainly something to aspire to.

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