Monday, 16 October 2017

My Flying Gate

Its been a while since I posted on here which is a bit remiss of me but I have been patiently waiting for the latest edition to my collection to be ready for sharing with you as it was little overdue. This particular bikes story starts back in the 1930's and was the brainchild of brothers Reg & Wille Baines   Nicknamed the "Flying Gate" it was unusual in its design as it allowed for shorter chainstays and therefore less flex at the bottom bracket. Hilary Stone explains.
My interest in obtaining one of these frames was sparked by an encounter with Rob Seall at an event in Tunbridge Wells where I was carrying out a Dr Bike session at the launch of Cycle Friday. Robs frame was a Silver Jubilee  model with very special hand cut lugs and was a work of art.
A little while later I phoned Trevor to enquire about placing an order and although at that time I never got to speak to the man himself it seemed  unlikely that any further orders were going to be taken for some time to come.
Three years later I was attending Eroica Britannia and whilst walking through the tented village I come across a Flying Gate Frame, standing next to the frame was no other than Trevor Jarvis and Liz Beaumont  I spent some time chatting with both Trevor and Liz and a few weeks later on the 19th July, after various emails and phone calls, I placed an order for my Flying Gate frame and the deposit was duly paid.
At the time of order it was proposed to build my frame in February 2017 and as the time drew near I started to think about how I might use the bike during the summer of that year. After a lot of soul searching  I had decided to go with something different than a Campagnolo build. I still wanted a vintage group set but Campag prices still seemed to be on the up and I felt that something a little different was needed. In the end I went for Suntour Superbe pro. Japanese yes but top end components that had excellent design and engineering principles behind them. Over the winter of 2016 parts were sourced from all corners of the globe and the group set took shape.
February 2017 came and went and in March I contacted Liz to find out what was happening to my frame. As with all things bespoke and when you are working with a small business thats trying to establish itself there can be all manner of reasons for unexpected delays but give Liz her due, she apologised for the delay and ensured me that we would get there in the end.
In June of 2017 Liz let me know that the frame had begun to take shape in the jig and shortly after that these photos arrived of the first stage of the build.
My "Gate" just off the jig

Forks in their raw unfinished state

Once the frame was completed it was off to the platers for chroming and then off to Bob Jacksons for its paint.
On the 22nd September Liz sent me this photo of the frame just out of the box from the finishers.

Now paint choice on a frame is a very personal thing and to me its always been a blank canvas to create a work of art. To say that I'm chuffed to bits on how it turned out is an understatement. I think it looks exactly as it should. A rich cream base, lugs picked out in flam red with a touch of chrome giving it a nice vintage vibe.
Below are a set of photos of the finished build in all its glory almost a full Suntour group set, I'm still waiting for a seat post to find its way to Bobs Bike Shed and a headset but other than that its all there.
Bobs Bike Shed Flying Gate

Flying gate Seat post tube 

Paint detail

A proper head badge 

Chrome detail 

chrome detail

Chrome detail

Front derailleur clip

BB shell paint detail

Paint detail

Friday, 14 November 2014

Retro Ronde and The Joy of Cycling

Following last years trip to Tuscany and taking part in L'eroica, I had been chatting to an Australian called James Foster and he mentioned another vintage ride in Belgium that he was thinking of entering called the "Retro Ronde". My ears pricked up to this as Belgium is a little closer to the UK than Italy and it would easy to drive there rather than fly.  To give it its full title, the Retroronde Van Vlaanderen is very similar to the L'Eroica in as much as the restrictions placed on the rider with regard to the age of the bike are the same ( so anything built before 1987) and you should ride in period style clothing with vintage woollen jerseys/ costumes being the order of the day and even a sprinkling of tweed here and there.

Period costume is the order of the day
With 2014 being its 8th year, the key to this ride of course is the route and the type of road surfaces  you get to cycle on. Starting in the town of Oudenaarde in the heart of Ardennes, it features some of the  climbs and cobbled roads that have been the stars of such 1 day classics as the Tour of Flanders, Gent Wevelgem etc. With that in mind I registered on the website, booked some accommodation, a ticket under the channel and on the 12th June I headed off to Belgium.

One of the main differences between the vintage scene and sportive type rides in general seems to be the atmosphere and the type of cyclist each event appears to attract. Now Im sure there is some crossover of participants on these events  as I also take part in one or two home grown sportive's on my modern steeds ( steel of course) and I have no doubt Im not alone in that, but, I have to say there is a much more relaxed celebratory atmosphere on the vintage rides which seems to embody a era long since past, that harks back to a joy of cycling and the freedom that two wheels brings. One lovely element that I wholeheartedly approve of is no cycle computers!! So no Garmin here, no average speeds, max speeds or power outputs and most of all no STRAVA. Just the wonderful joy of two wheels and three triangles to tackle in this instance, cobbled tracks and hills  deep in the Ardennes country side. Brilliant.

Saturday dawned and I headed down into Oudenaarde to check out parking and get my bearings, There was also the opportunity to take part in a short 25k ride that took in the Paterberg and the Koppenberg cobbled climbs. The Paterberg got the better of me as I slipped a gear halfway up and resulted in the walk of shame but I shook off my disappointment and managed to ascend the Koppenberg where others were falling by the wayside.

My school boy hero has his own cycle route

The walk of shame up the Paterberg

Back in the centre of Oudenaarde the cycle jumble was in full swing as was the music and a fantastic dance group called the Dipsy Doodles. The town also plays host to the " Tour of Flanders " Museum which is well worth a visit ( more of this in another blog) The afternoon saw the town centre Retro Criterium take place with various race categories which on this occasion I was happy to watch (but may take part in next year).  All this added up to a real vintage vibe and a great atmosphere. However the highlight of the afternoon had to be meeting Tom Simpson's daughter Jo and talking about her dad, just wonderful.

There was even a penny farthing race 

Some wonderful vintage bikes
Alex Stefanovic ( third rider from the left) in full flight, well ok then medium flight.

Lead out lap for the multi speed  Criterium race

The highlight of the afternoon ....meeting Tom Simpson's daughter Jo

 So Sunday dawned, a fresh, bright and sunny morning, it looked like it was going to be a great day. The atmosphere at the start was electric and with a blessing from the local priest and a wave from the town Mayor we were off, heading out into the Ardennes.
A busy start line

The Town Mayor and Priest 

The first feed station
And another feed station
Cobbles galore

The Kemmelberg
The final feed station 
So I guess the photos sum up the day for me and whilst I could wax lyrical I'm not going to, It was just a great day out, a great weekend away, meeting some wonderful people for whom riding on two wheels brings so much pleasure. Belgium is a great country with a rich cycling heritage and the Retro Ronde doffs its hat to... not only this but so much more.

Happy days and see you all next year.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Santa Cruz Super light

An interesting job came into the workshop from a returning customer last week. He and his friend regularly go riding at weekends in all weathers and as a consequence their bikes need regular maintenance. The Santa Cruz super light needed a complete overhaul with new frame bearings, bottom bracket and headset. The rear shock needed an air can service and new bushes, a new rear brake was also required as the caliper I rebuilt last year finally breathed its last. So with the bike stripped down to its component parts the rebuild could begin.
Santa cruz SL broken down

old bearings removed 

new bearings being pressed into place

rear triangle re-fitted

rear shock ready for an air can service

in the vice

Air can removed exposing shock seals

Air can seals removed 

shock seals removed 

Old seals at the top with some new seals from the kit below.

shock rebuilt and ready to be refitted to the frame

Fox float shock refitted in the frame

fully serviced and re-built ready to go back to the customer.

Its very satisfying to see a bike come back to life once the bike shed can get its hands on to it.

Monday, 21 October 2013

l'Eroica 2013 My ride Part 3

Sunday morning dawned and as I opened the shutters I was greeted with the ends of the night time darkness, and early morning mist/fog. The ground looked damp but not wet so after a quick shower and breakfast, dressed ready to ride, I put the Raleigh in the car and we headed off to Gaiole. Well as the sun came up and the fog started to clear the contrast to Saturday could not have been more stark. The views down into the valleys were spectacular with vineyards as far as the eye could see, it was....well beautiful.
My spirits lifted, we headed down into Gaiole but could not get into town so decided to park up in a Winery car park just outside the town centre .

We walked into town passing many riders whom had already started and the atmosphere was vibrant to say the least .In town I made my way up a side street to the back of the que whilst Sue walked up the main street to wait  for me to ride through. There were vintage bikes everywhere you looked, it was truly a feast for the eyes. During a conversation with other riders I met up with an english chap called Mike Marber and we cycled some of the route together. Good weather, good conversation , the Strada Bianca and the feeling that you were part of something unique, it just made for one of the most memorable cycling experiences of my life. I think the photos below say a lot more than my writing efforts so please take a look and as to the question would I do it again, you bet, it was bloody brilliant!!

Well thats my ride finished, the smile says it all!!

Final stamp check

A well earned double espresso

 My Flicker LEroica 2013  file with all our trip photo's