What does it take…

A word of warning before I start: I need to be careful what I write now, because my son reads this blog, and this post is about him, or his bike, rather.

Let´s start at the beginning. About five and a half years ago I cycled to the next town, can´t remember for what, and there was a cycle race going on, a criterium by the looks of it, and I somehow got infected again. I had been an avid cyclist until we started our family, started with jobs, and so on.

But here it was, the cyclerace, and I approached someone who turned out to be a friend of the local cycle club president. My son (11) and I went to a training ride, he loved it, and became a club member months before I did.

The good thing about your offspring being a cyclist is that you can tag along, get some miles under your belt, and there´s no need for weekends spent watching Physical Exercise atrocities like soccer, or judo, while every fortnight a van load full of smelly team jerseys needs to be washed.

The shortcoming is that your son needs a bike, which can become rather an expensive affair when he´s a) growing fast and b) cycling fast. Luckily I have a hoard of bits, so when we were given a nice 1970s Alan, we were settled for a year.

The frame had belonged to Rüdiger Rabenstein´s son, and Johannes loved the bike. He grew out of it quickly, though. When on a sportive we stopped at a cycle shop which had a used Trek OCLV for sale, small frame, 9sp. Veloce, so after a quick family talk Johannes was the proud owner of a US Superbike.

Alas not for long. A nasty training exercise due to lack of communication in the pack led to a fractured arm and a fractured frame. The groupset was salvaged and put on a Gazelle I had scored some months before. I had bought it for the price of the Mavic wheels (501 hubs, MA40 rims, I think) and was very pleased I had it.

It was a very pretty and capable bike, but there was no room for mudguards. We had stopped training for races after the accident and concentrated fully on sportives/century rides/RTF/velorandonees, whatever you want to call it. We enjoy these greatly, and my son is very successful at it; he had been North Western German champion three years running and came second (by 30km…) last season.

After the Gazelle had been outgrown (it now hangs in my son´s room over the shelf with all his many cups) there was the brief intermezzo of a Czech Fort frame with the same hardwearing Veloce groupset but braze ons for mudguards and a rack. That was much better.

When I got my big blue Ellis-Briggs I also ordered a stock frame for my son. Stock is a word which doesn´t describe reality with Ellis-Briggs – still there were numerous e-mails exchanged and many changes possible. I planned on building my son his first real randonneur, albeit at first with a racing geartrain for lack of a triple. That changed when some time after we had built up the bike I was able to buy a Rickert racer my size off which came a Campag Racing Triple geartrain. (The Rickert will be posted soon.)

Here´s some snaps of what my son´s bike looked like until last year:

The black Bluemels Club Specials came out of my boxes and the Tubus rack was given me free by our LBS because it had a small dent and some scratches. The following Christmas yielded a Son 28, an LED front light and a great rear light, too, in a combined effort by parents, aunt and grandparents, especially the latter. As my son was 14 then Father Christmas had no part in the matter.

Next there was a bad case of chainsuck which damaged the chainstay that badly that neither me nor our LBS could decide if it wouldn´t have to be replaced. So off the frame went again to Shipley, and it turned out that the stay could be saved. Not only that, but now the frame was in for repairs I was able to order a decent front derailleur braze on and chrome on the chainstay. Also I had the lugs lined in black, which has the bike look very nice now.

When I first ordered the frame I chose a slightly taller size than might have been necessary because my son had grown a lot all the time, but as it goes he chose to take a break as soon as the bike was ready. Now it is really great, something to be proud of, growth has re-started with a vengeance. There´s still some centimeters frame height left, luckily.


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