Driving from Tucson, my wife Deirdre and I loaded our bicycles onto our VW wagon and drove across the country. Our route led through San Antonio, New Orleans, Savannah and Hilton Head. We rode bicycles and sampled the local cuisine along the way—BBQ, gumbo, beignets, fried chicken, crawfish, collard greens, biscuits, fried green tomatoes, some local beers, and more BBQ. After 30 plus hours of driving, we arrived in North Carolina for Classic Rendezvous Weekend vintage cycling event—something I’ve wanted to attend for years.
Dale Brown’s Office
From our Air B&B in the Lindley Park neighborhood, I rode to the Cycles de Oro shop on my 1971 Raleigh International, which was one of the least remarkable bikes I saw parked out front. One of the highlights of coming out for the Classic Rendezvous Weekend was surely getting to visit Cycles de Oro, Dale Brown’s Greensboro bicycle shop that is part fully functioning shop and part world-class vintage lightweight bicycle museum. After picking up my registration packet, I wandered around the shop like a star-struck kid, admiring the Hurlows, Hetchins, and Jack Taylors that hang high on the shop walls. I also got a peek at Dale’s secret stash upstairs, which included his yellow McLean, a clutch of Masis, and a light blue Rene Herse complete with a map of France in its clear map sleeve.
I got shown into Dale Brown’s office, where he was holding court behind his desk. I had not met Dale in person, and only knew him from online communications. Dale’s diligent and encyclopedic work on his Classic Rendezvous website and Google group has created a vibrant community many of whom showed up for what was rumored to be the final Classic Rendezvous Weekend.
Dale has a background as an artist, and some of his printed art hangs on the wall, but the walls are mostly decorated with bicycle frames. In addition to the beautiful frames on the wall (one of which was built by Dale), I spied a 1983 North Carolina road racing schedule, some handsome wool jerseys, and a few boxes of spare vintage parts spilling over like pirate’s booty. On top of one stack was what looks like a complete NOS boxed set of Zeus components. Dale was friendly and welcoming, a gracious host. At the end of June, he is moving his shop to a new location. It is hard to believe that someone would take on organizing a huge event a couple of weeks before moving a whole shop, but that is exactly what Dale did.
Fixed-Gear Friday Ride
Truth be told, there were not all that many fixed gear riders participating in the Friday afternoon fixed gear ride. Most, including me, rode geared bikes. The ride was a short jaunt through some of the Greensboro’s shady neighborhoods in what seemed to me to be the moneyed part of town. Milling around pre-ride, I ran into Dirk Visser from Missoula, Montana on a baby blue Schwinn Paramount with spectacular red lug lining. Another rider who’s name I can’t recall, was parading around a leaf green Presto, a brand I did not know, but instantly liked. Among the actual fixed gear bikes, I was most smitten by a black Jack Taylor with a curved seat tube and a wind-up chronometer on the bars for time keeping.
It was a warm afternoon, and after a short admonition from Dale, we rolled out onto the shimmering tarmac. Most of the riders in the group were easy to be around—people with years of experience riding in groups and were comfortable and predictable in close quarters riding. Over on my left, I saw Debra Banks, owner of Rivet saddles peddling the freshly restored #1 Peter Weigle mixte. Later in the spin, camera and Suntour component aficionado Paul Brodek rode up beside me on a sparkling purple Waterford to ask about my Lumix camera.
As the group spaced itself out a bit, I found myself pedaling side by side with master builder and bicycle tastemaker Peter Weigle, whose French flare and images of re-imagined Raleigh bicycles (including one badged “No-Competition”) I’ve long admired. In fact, Peter was pedaling an old Raleigh that he had converted to a 650b rando-style bicycle. Peter’s bicycle had lots of neat details that might be overlooked—including a new paint job that looked old, and hand-distressed cotton bar tape that was only a few weeks old, but looked much older.
Peter seemed to be in fine form and as we turned down a street named Nottingham, (which seemed appropriate seeing that we were both on Raleigh bicycles), and then up a grade that our guide said was one of his in-town favorites, we both did a little out of the saddle climbing to lead the group up the hill. Riding with Peter was one of the highlights of my trip. I’ve been riding bicycles long enough that I notice right away when I’m riding next to somebody who rides like a natural, who is both at ease and confident in their handling and endurance. That is how Peter Weigle looked on his bike. I could see him taking a flyer off the front. I could see myself following him, or at least trying.