Surely this is the most beautiful bicycle in the history of the world.
Exquisite cro-moly frame of large dimensions (I do have exquisitely long legs; which I’m told are still, well exquisite; 60cm top tube for exquisitely long arms, and heavenly featherbed ride.
It’s a Bianchi Tropheo bought about 15 years ago from the great Ray (Appleby); colour blue which for the cognoscenti is unusual for Bianchi. But this is more a reasonably high-level training, rather than racing bike. Fully Campag equipped; running 52/39; 21-12; well ‘til it all wore out, which took a few years and a not a few kilometres. And because of the cost, she became a part Campag, part Shimano beast.
And beautiful, exquisite; sculpted, sensuous Campag aero wheels. Ohhhhhhhhhhh…. those wheels.
We were so much in love ... Bianchi and I ...
And the head tube .. well she broke ... twice. Once I was zapping down that long downhill into Huonville, somewhere between 70 and 100kmh when she all began to flex ‘n creak. Headtube gone in the join to the downtube. Back to Ray who sent her off to Melbourne for a weld. ‘Didn’t think I’d see her come back,’ he said, when she came back. Second time (much later in the single-speed phase) was down the long hill from the airport when you first catch that glimpse of Hobart Town. (This time that genius brother, Cedric of Dodges, welded her up).
First time when she came back was like first-flush of love. We were reunited. But then a strange thing happened. I chanced upon a lover I had desired for many years; a recumbent ... and we spent five years lying together for some horizontal dancing.
Director of Engineering Cedric of Dodges launches humble Test Pilot into the dangerous jungle of Hobart’s Eastern Shore suburbs.
Then I tired of the horizontal dance and – with the mechanical expertise of Cedric of Dodges, whacked a bit of Viagra in her (a two-stroke Chinese motor for emergency rushes to the shops; I had the idea of riding home from the pub in town late at night rather than cabbing (TT is not a big earner). But the controllability wasn’t all that exquisite ... that is, neither me after the pub, or the Viagra-equipped recumbent.
I digress. As the mechanicals were being designed in Dodges I looked at the old Bianchi covered in cobwebs in the shed. And desire; that wondrous first flush of love spoken of earlier, reignited somewhere deep in bowel, or somewhere. And I thought ... I know, I’ll turn her into a single-speeder and a Fixie.
Which with the aid of the bike shop up the road (Adrian, Jase and Bike Bellerive) and the most helpful Stuey (ex AIS mechanic) I did. First ride out running 39X15 was wondrous… and I pinched myself; in reality the degraded tyres pinched and I had a flat. New tyres; tubes blah and we were back singing.
Single-speeders are wonderful. But ... there’s always a but ... Hobart is hilly. Back to Stuey and the Campag derailler was rolled out and Bianchi became 39x21, 39x15.
Then I discovered – well I’ve always had this obsession ... the need for speed. Back to Stuey and on goes a 12. So Bianchi is now 39X21, 39X15, 39X12.
But aesthetically this is a non-no. The chain angle from the 39 to the 12 is skewed to the right because of a lip on the cog and the need to fix it to the right on the axle ...and not that exquisite alignment my slightly obsessive/compulsive nature demands. So, back to Stuey (who is long-suffering).
Can you source me a 12 without lip and I’ll dump three-speed (who needs three-speeds?) and go 39X20 (that’s all ya need for hills; makes yuh dance harder); 39/12.
Exquisite ... except ... I still want to go quicker on the flat; spinning to 40 or so just aint getting me rocks off.
Back to Stuey? Nooooooooooo. Poor Stuey is firmly engaged un-buckling the wheel and whacking on a new tyre and tube on the Viagra Recumbent after a lurid blow-out when the rear brake eat the rubber rather than the rim.
I did it myself (the bike allowance had also run out), On goes the Campag changer and a 53 Shimano chainring to go with the 39.
Thus, hey presto, wonder of wonders ... 39X20, 53X20, 39X12, 53X12 ...
And, now, oh joy ... all is right with the world. Bianchi and I are as one; that exquisite frame which irons out bumps so, well, exquisitely; that wondrous range of gears (bloody hell, it’s 52.7 to 71.6, to 87.8 to 119.3 in gear inches; who could want for more?).
Old things can be desirable ... can’t we?