On a vintage bicycle ride, there are two competing philosophies that run through my head: 1) It is all about the bike, and 2), It is not about the bike. Somehow both ring true. I thought about this last weekend at the vintage ride that Don Lightner and I organized in Tucson, Bici Clasicas. Rolling along at a pleasant pace in the saguaro-studded valley below Rincon Peak, I was riding beside Seattle area-rider Matthew Pendergast, who pedaled a lovely light green Bruce Gordon. Just behind us was cycling writer, Maynard Hershon, on a pink Olmo borrowed from ex-pro Gord Fraser. Also in our little peloton were veteran riders Bruce Schatmeier on a 1960s Cinelli SC, John Gallagher on a Masi of similar vintage, and Matt McCoy on a gleaming black Raleigh Competition GS. My friend Greg Reiche, who I worked with at a Utah bike shop back in the 1980s, was up front riding my 1969 LeJeune. It was fun to see my carefully assembled old bike being put through its paces by someone else, and getting to look at it in action from a distance. Nearly all of us, like two-wheeled versions of civil war re-enactors, wore period-correct wool jerseys, perforated leather shoes with clips and straps. My shoes even had hardwood soles. During lulls in the conversation, you could hear the distinctive whir of chains moving through Campagnolo Record derailleurs. We were a parade of 1960s and 70s cycling cool. It was all about the bike.
Then we took the right up Pistol Hill, and I played the sacrificial rabbit. I stepped on the pedals of my orange 1973 Motobecane Super Champion and got a little gap, but mid-way up the grade, Greg on my LeJeune, and young Ben Elias on his single speed Viking, whooshed past. I pursued but was unable to retake them. At the top, after a rest stop with tea and pie, we turned downhill with a tailwind and sailed back toward Civano. Greg and I were trading places out front, and when a rider on a modern carbon fiber bike passed us, we grabbed onto his wheel, then passed him back. I turned around, and there was Bruce, 71 years old, flying right along, pushing the pace. I thought about our little groupo, and doing some quick math in my head estimated that between us, we had about 245 years of cycling experience, and that our bikes were also about 245 years old combined. No wonder it felt so comfortable and natural to ride shoulder to shoulder and wheel to wheel at speed with these guys. It wasn’t about the bike.
All of this reminded me of the genesis of the Bici Clasicas event. It was May, I was riding the annual Mt. Lemmon Hill Climb on my 1971 Raleigh International. I was riding with my neighbor Pat, who was on a modern Specialized S-Works carbon bike. A guy I didn’t know, who turned out to be Don, pulled up beside me on a red steel Condor. We started talking enthusiastically about vintage bikes, and Don mentioned that he wanted to host a vintage bike ride in Tucson. We chatted away, still climbing at a good clip, and somewhere before Palisades, we dropped my neighbor Pat, who was behind us cursing the mountain, and our steel bikes, and any deities that came to mind. Don and I made it up past the Ski Valley, to the very top, in respectable time. Ours were the only two steel bikes sitting below the relay towers on Mt. Bigelow that day. It was all about the bike, and not about the bike at all.
WayneNovember 17, 2016 at 4:14 pm
Bikes, people and thirdly total FUN !
The Beautiful BicycleNovember 18, 2016 at 9:22 pm
Thanks Wayne, you would have had a great time. We will have to get you out next year.
gilles landryNovember 17, 2016 at 7:46 pm
Nice ride and article !
BobNovember 17, 2016 at 10:50 pm
How about More Pix of the bikes,vintage kit and cyclists on this ride?
The Beautiful BicycleNovember 18, 2016 at 9:19 pm
I have more pix of the bikes, but I didn’t take enough of the riders in their kits. Our official photographer will have those up in the near future.
Dennis JohnsonNovember 17, 2016 at 10:57 pm
The bikes were gorgeous – Many of the “Concours” bikes were put on display in the morning, pulled off for the ride, then put back on the display racks for the afternoon… The rides were gorgeous… But mostly this was a ride with a bunch of old friends whom I’d never met. What fun watching Greg Reiche and Matt Pendergast puzzle over the geometry on my Jack Taylor Paris Galibier frame.
The Beautiful BicycleNovember 18, 2016 at 9:18 pm
Thanks for bringing that Jack Taylor Galibier and for coming out to ride.
Matthew PendergastNovember 22, 2016 at 5:28 pm
Dennis, It was nice meeting you and puzzling over your JT. Man, what an unusual bike.
Stephen BryneNovember 18, 2016 at 7:04 am
Really enjoyed the Bici Clasica ride and event. Will try to come back next year for more fun! Thanks for organizing! Ride on! Stephen
The Beautiful BicycleNovember 18, 2016 at 9:17 pm
Thanks for coming out Stephen. I look forward to riding with you next year!
Matthew PendergastNovember 22, 2016 at 5:30 pm
Scott, I just posted a ride report on bikeforums. Thanks again for hosting us. Let’s do it again next year
The Beautiful BicycleNovember 28, 2016 at 9:56 am
Thanks for posting such a detailed account of the weekend Matthew!