Category Archives: All The Others

Neerkant Revisited – Randonneurs

It might not have escaped your attention that I have a predilection for randonneurs. To me they seem to be the pinnacle of cycle construction, uniting light weight, practicability, comfort and a high degree of individuality. Also you need a very good Constructeur to build you that lightweight bike which incorporates a great number of custom made peripheral structures such as décaleurs, racks, lighting installation, brake cable stops, mudguard eyes and clearance, and what not. After all, even if you don´t go for PBP, the average (or below average, like me) rider wants a bike which will help him or her to attain the longest possible ride distance with the least discomfort. Add to that personal touches like special lugs, and there you are: Not to be surpassed.

Rivendell

So, about eight years ago (yes, it´s that long ago), I was lucky enough to have a custom made randonneur made for me by Ellis Briggs in Shipley (see Work in Progress post). At the time I thought one would see a big renaissance of steel framed, constructeur made randonneurs, but it seems I was mistaken, so whenever I see one, I have a good look, as in this year´s spring Stalen Ros meet. The first bike I found to be quite nice was a US made bike, a Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen – strange name, great bike. In theory I was familiar with the brand, I had read a number of Rivendell Readers, even before Grant Petersen and Jan Heine fell out over rolling resistance of tires,

so I knew that they made nice lugs

and artsy headbadges, too. I used to say that I only wanted to ride bikes with metal headbadges, but I wonder if that can be continued nowadays. Anyway, Rivendell Bike Works still have them:

And here´s the bike in full:

Some nice details:

Personally, I´m not so sure about asymmetrical lugs, but that´s a matter of taste, I assume, as long as certain limits are not exceeded. I just love the lugged extension, that´s true, although my taste for fantasy literature is underdeveloped.

Batavus

There was another really wonderful bike, hard to be photographed, sorry to say, so there´s just a few snaps. Based on an elderly Batavus frame, the rider had made a great long distance bike, changing tire size to 650B on the way, and incorporating such features as remotely controlled directional lighting, reminding me of the 2nd series Citroen D-models.

 

So the former down tube gear lever is now attached to the brake lever body and actuates the Edelux swivel mech. Great stuff.

Lastly for today, these two nice touches:

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Open Monument Day 2017 – Bielefeld Racetrack

Unexpected experiences often are the most interesting ones.

I had planned to visit the 2017 edition of the open day at the Bielefeld/Germany cycle track on Sunday, Sept. 10, expecting to witness some exhibition racing by stayers, but when I arrived at the scene, I already could hear that something unusual was going on. So through the tunnel, and into the track oval inner field.

Parallel to the cycling part of the open day there was a meeting of people foolish enough to risk not only their lives, but also their wonderful motorbikes on the track. This is possible because Bielefeld was built for stayer racing in the 50s, and so can stand the stress exerted on the track by heavy and speeding motorbikes. On the Saturday there had been heavy rainfall, so that no fun could be had by the motorbike people, who had been allowed to take the exhibition racing over on the Sunday – some of them had travelled for 1.000 kms to ride their bikes on a track, so who could have refused them?

There were some weird and wonderful bikes assembled inside the track oval, a 1929 NSU racer for example,

or a recently finished re-creation of a JAP engined track racer,

but the stars of the show on the track were the fast and hard ridden Harley Flathead WL model conversions. Strictly speaking hardly any of the motorbikes present were actual track racers, but boy did they let fly, never mind knobbly tires or other un-track-like additions.

Riders actually developed some racing ambitions and up to four serious contenders were on the track at a time. One thing bikes did not have were exhausts worth mentioning, so the warm, low key noise of the Harleys, the NSU or the JAP was contrasted by the sharp sound of a sixties Honda.

In the bends, the low pressure, large diameter tires of some bikes were visibly compressed by the G forces exerted on them at speeds of up to 100 kph.

Of course, there also were cycle related activities. Old films about the track were shown, and Christian Dippel, one of the last great pacemakers, explained some tricks of his trade at the small exhibition of cycles and motorbikes.

Outside the track proper, there was tent in which visitors could partake of cake and other delicacies, and the tent also harboured a small collection of very nice, but hard to photograph racing bicycles.

A short ride for people on old racing bicycles had also been scheduled, and one bike in it, a fully original Bianchi Specialissima, was ridden by it first owner who´d had it for quite exactly 50 years.

Soon it was time to return home, but first the beautiful weather had to be used for some photographs.

Gazelle – Retrofestival and New Frame Presentation

Are you into Gazelle? If so, you should have been in Dieren/Netherlands last Saturday because there was a big meet of people who are interested in old (and new) Gazelle bikes. I´ve been a great fan of theirs all my cycling life, starting in the early eighties when I repaired bikes in a bike shop frequented by college students to earn a penny or two finding that Gazelle were of superb quality, until today when I´m privileged enough to own about ten classic Gazelles, from daily riders dating to the 1990s to real collectors´ items. You can find most of them portrayed on this blog. Just key “Gazelle” into the search field top left on the screen.

The reason for organizing the festival was that Koninklijke Gazelle N.V. presented a new racing bike called Champion Mondial, just like the classic frames used to be from the sixties up until the eighties. Also this year it´s their 125th birthday.

The new frame is a curious mix of classic and modern components and techniques and as such carries its name with justice.

It was unveiled by two Dutch cycleracers of yore, Harm Ottenbros and Hennie Kuiper. Both spoke a few words on the small stage erected in the parking lot of the big Gazelle works, and then set off on the new bikes for a ride. They were kind enough to sign the poster I had brought on the offchance:

Hennie Kuiper being one of the heroes of my youth, that was good. Here´s a few impressions of the festival terrain:

The whole Gazelle area was choc a bloc with old Gazelle bikes, heavy black Dutch Roadsters as well as sleek racers. I don´t think there were many models unrepresented in that gruppetto.

Weights ranged from super heavy 1930s Roadsters

to a super lightweight track bike and, unbelievably, an actual 753 frame:

Some of the oldest Gazelle lightweights, purported to be that early that they were built at Eroba and not at Gazelle, were also there, only space was cramped and photography next to impossible.

The blue “race” model is just a run of the mill 531/Nervex Professionnel frame of course, a bit old fashioned even in 1966 when it must have been made. Its being the oldest surviving Gazelle lightweight, however, is what it makes so special. The bike is kitted out well, French mostly, and is really great all in all. I spent nearly a quarter of an hour next to it.

There also was a ladies light tourer of the same age – another great bike.

More details of some bikes, from wonderful

… to rough and ready.

The cutest bike at the whole festival must have been this kid´s racer:

After some time the whole group of about 250 participants set off for a ride of either 25 or 50 kms through the beautiful landscape surrounding Dieren.

The crowd at registration

The climax of the ride must have been the crossing of the river Ijssel on ferryboats.

“Don´t pay the ferryman / until he gets you to the other side” – ha, funny, great joke. The lucky participants of the ride had received a red plastic chip at registration (or somewhere else) which was taken in payment by the ferry crew, but we unlucky ones who had not been told there were red plastic chips had to pay our own ways – before the boat set out. Oh well, it wasn´t that expensive, and on the way out we were even invited by some very friendly people we had met on the way.

Had I known that also other brands than Gazelle could take part,

I would have ridden my wonderful RIH and not the much too small AA Special Gazelle equipped with C Record. I didn´t feel comfy at all on my Gazelle – small wonder at 6-7 cms too low.

After a very enjoyable ride we arrived back at Dieren and cycled past the old Gazelle shop where the whole affair had started in 1892…

… contrasting starkly to the ultra modern new building…

… which actually incorporates an older one.There was the possibility of walking round parts of the factory, and I did take photos, but as I´m not really sure if I can publish them on the net, I´ll ask Gazelle first. So if you still see this sentence in a few weeks´ time…

Lastly there also was the possibilty of taking part in a Guiness world record attempt – the most bikes over 30 years old in one spot, or something, but we really didn´t get idea nor the purpose of that, so we didn´t take part. It was required to cycle 4.6 kms on a bike that was at least 30 years old, and as my son brought our Gazelle track bike for people to look at, and his riding bike was definitively less than 30 years old, there was no chance for us to take part anyway. Here´s the start of the record attempt:

Of course there were some old cars to be found in the parking lot. I didn´t get the chance to snap a beautiful PV 544, but these aren´t bad either:

All in all, the combination of old and new was very appealing, and I would say that the festival was a great success.

Not Neerkant Anymore – Stalen Ros 2017

To sum it up, a new location, but the same friendly faces.

Arriving, you find that the parking space situation has changed – from unregulated chaos as it was for the first nine years (or so?) to regulated chaos. Oh well, you aren´t coming for the cars – or are you?

 

As always, there were a few nice cars to be seen, but of course, hundreds of bikes.

You start off by seeing the insignia of the host,

the Natuurpoort de Peel, and of Stalen Ros:

Once you have made your way through the restaurant and waited in the line to pay the 2€ entrance fee, you arrive in a big shed.

You see at once that the stall have now near-completely taken over, there is only very little room now for the expo bikes,

as many people are trying to sell off their unwanted parts

and are actually expecting to be paid for this sort of scrap, or, if it´s nice items, prices are about where they have been for the last few years.

Not really a Peugeot, of course. Nice, but definitively not what the seller said it was. And possibly believed it himself?

Also I noted a great deal of wholly off-topic items for sale.

But OTOH, there was this really great asymmetrical Labor bike to see. Once properly restored, it has the potential to become a real sight. As it is now (see rims…) there´s still a lot of work to be done.

Not saying that I like the construction; the Labor people just flogged the dead horse of an unusual idea obviously long after it had started to putrify, refusing to admit that this is not a viable way to make a bike, but still, it´s 1920s, and as such an exception in the meet. Sad, really, that people seem to look nearly exclusively at 70s and 80s bikes nowadays.

What I noted this year was the sheer number of items for children, ranging from the superbe to the horrible. Anyway, we all like kids to cycle, and on steel too, so – carry on with it, everybody, please.

This handlebar/extension/bell set was the show stealer, if I may say so. Bearing the markings of Kessels´ Main d´Or, the combination of green anodizing and chrome was – well, resistible at the price, but very nice to look at anyway. The Belgians really knew how to make beautiful bikes.

What did I take away? A very positive impression of the new venue and the people working there, the many nice talks I led with interesting people, some even in-depth, and two saddles: A 1979 full chrome Champion Narrow in pretty good nick, and a 1974 B17 Standard which is barely broken in. Both have untouched tensioning bolts and had escaped being maltreated by people wielding oil cans or whatever unsuitable fatty matters there are, and both were bought (relatively) cheaply.

Dus, tot volgend jaar, definitively.

This Is Not About Bikes…

… but hopefully interesting for those into lightweight design. Yes, you guessed it, it´s about planes again.

On a business trip to the beautiful Polish city of Cracow I managed to take time off to visit the Muzeum Lotnictva Polskiego, the Polish Aviation Museum. First thing to be said: Don´t try, like I had to, to make do with an afternoon – there´s enough exhibits for a week, I´d say. The museum is situated 7 km to the East of the city centre and can be reached with trams No. 52 or 10 inside 20 minutes from Wawel for PZN 7.20 per return journey, which is fantastic. On the way you also see a different Cracow – modern buildings, some reaching back to Socialist times. You get off at the Muzeum Lotnictva stop, and from there it´s an easy 5 min walk until you see this:

The futuristic main building of the museum. From above it looks slightly like a propeller.

So you pay your PZN 15 entry fee (about 4 EUR/$/£), and right away you´re greeted by a hall full of exquisite exhibits like:

a 1947 Yak 23, one of the earliest jet planes, and the Soviet Gloster Gladiator if you wish, or

a Blériot 11 on the ceiling, a late model, but never mind, or

a 1917 Albatross that was used in the Polish airforce until WWII, or

a Me 109 people dragged from some lake a few years ago, or lastly

a late model Spitfire in the colours of a Polish RAF Squadron. In recent years Poles have remembered about their countrymen who fought so valiantly and successfully in the UK even after fascist Germany conquered their country. One of the main bridges crossing the Wisla is called Monte Cassino bridge – check out on the the net why.

So the hall´s been a good start.

But then you leave the main building and stumble upon some very sad sights. Sorry to be so straightforward, but to the visitors´ view the MiG Alley, as it´s called, is little more than a collection of rotted out planes that might have been a great attraction if housed somewhere out of the reach of the inclement Eastern Polish weather:

The 21 U is a rarity in itself, and the incomplete 29 is an open invitation to anyone to help themselves to some magnificent titanium parts. A near complete collection of MiGs – from the earliest to a 29, out in the open – sorry, can´t do anything with that. No more snaps of that tragedy.

But the outside drama goes on. The AN 2 stored in the open is replaceable, I guess,

but a Belphegor, the only jet propelled biplane, is just a sad sight with cracking perspex and UV damaged seat upholstery.

Worse still: An Amiot AAC.1 Toucan, a Ju52/3m knockoff, made ca. 1946 in France, where the Germans had hoped to use French aircraft production facilities to make their less modern aircraft in greater numbers, thereby delivering to the French f/o/c all the tools and know how necessary to produce one of the more rugged cargo planes of aviation history. The poor beast is also sitting out in the open. Its completely unoriginal paintwork, an embarassment to say the least, is best bleached by the sun, but its substance also is suffering.

At some point a Junkers pair of rudders must have found its way onto the Toucan, as betrayed by this plate:

But on the other side of the plane its counterpart has already supposedly been nicked:

Luckily this French 1952 revision plate is still there.

A 1943 Li 2 is suffering still more.

Strangely enough, I was touched most by one of my childhood favourites´ fate. I have no idea why and when, but I started being fascinated by planes at a very young age, and one of the planes I always found fascinating is a SAAB 37 Viggen. Lo and behold, there´s a 1977 AJSF one at the Muzeum Lotnictva. But in what sad state of neglect.

I took some time to check the thing out in detail, hence the number of snaps. There´s always the possibility to just scroll down 🙂

This one is a recce version. The wonderful Matra cameras are still in place.

The rest of the Viggen photos can speak for themselves.

It´s such a great plane, oozing build quality and original design ideas. I wished I could have taken it home to some sort of shelter.

OK, on to some more stuff.

The Museum prides itself in a unique collection of Pioneer Aircraft. Thing is, most are unrestored, unlike this admittedly beautiful Sopwith camel with its Humber built engine:

Many old planes are left in as found condition (no comment here why that´s the case, you can find out about it on the net), but I hope I won´t be eaten alive by readers if I say that I prefer it this way: It´s not every day that you can see underneath the surface of pre-WWI planes.

So this Etrich Taube may look like it came straight from the bin,

But it is fascinating to see how it was designed. Also some details of planes can be observed well as there is no limit to where visitors are allowed to to go, short of climbing onto the exhibits (it really says so on boards).

A bungee cord suspension. Foolproof, lightweight – great.

Same is true for one of the other planes which ranks high in my most fascinating list, the Levavasseur with its Antoinette engine. The competitor of Blériot when attempting the first crossing of the English Channel by plane was, to my mind, the FAR nicer machine. I mean, look at that 50hp, liquid cooled Vee-eight engine. This one is incomplete and damaged (accident?), also it´s not the one with the light alloy cylinder heads, but it´s there to be looked at. What wouldn´t I give to hear it running…

And this is where it went: The bow, literally, of a German license built Levavasseur plane. The engine goes onto the gunwale like rounded rests.

The fuselage was built like a boat, complete with name on the bow.  The rest of the woodwork also is really nice:

It´s so intricately designed, and the woodwork is fascinatingly well executed. Bad lighting conditions precluded me from taking more detailed pics.

This is the cockpit.

The handrails are wood, the spokes are cast light alloy.

There´s some fascinating original footage of Antoinettes being built on youtube.

What else? The main exposition hall contains rarities such as a Sea Vampire and some Soviet WWII planes, but also, if I got it right, Ernst Udet´s personal Curtiss Hawk II:

AFAIK, this is one of the first planes which used the Townend Ring. Again, cramped and badly lit conditions…

Then on to the engine collection. There´s one hangar literally choc a bloc with the choicest engines.

Starting with the earliest rotaries like this Clerget,

carrying on to radials,

from flimsy to brutal like the BMW 801 which could be changed as a complete unit,

not forgetting early in-lines like this airship Maybach,

passing onto early Vees (and even Ws), like a Liberty,

and of course a whole array of thirties engines, like a rare Kestrel,

some Jumos, and then the superbly looking 12 series Hispano Suiza:

I´m fully aware that all Jumo 2xx, Mercedes 60x, RR Merlins and later the Griffons, their Packard offsprings, the US Allisons, Soviet Vee 12s were engines for warplanes and that people being killed by planes equipped with them didn´t care at all what these engines looked like, but I can´t help thinking that of all the liquid cooled Vee 12s, the Hispano 12 series must be the best looking. Contrary to the block like Jumos especially I think there was someone at Hispano´s who cared about the looks of their products.

If you have ever been puzzled by a drawing of the internals of a Bristol Hercules and wondered how the hell it was working, who was crazy enough to be able to design it and if there can possibly be a more intricate engine, you´re in for a shock. This Jumo opposed piston Diesel engine is just the worst. I spent ten minutes of my precious time in front of this cutaway specimen and didn´t understand much of what it tried to tell me.

Why simple when it can be complicated.

Lastly, in a museum like the Cracow one, where visitors can come really close to exhibits, there´s always some surprise to be had, like this warranty certificate which expired nearly 100 years ago:

Rijwielbelastingplaatjes

Last year´s visit to Belgium left some traces – in my memory, on this blog and also in my glasscase. When visiting Ypres, I chanced upon an antiques store which sold a great number of old Belgian bicycle tax plates. That´s BTW what the word in the title of this post means. Couldn´t really call them discs, because they look like this, for instance:

This one was the oldest I bought, I think it says 1923. Given the fact that those plates were introduced in Belgium in the 1890s, successively by the Province Governments, it´s not very old, but compared to the scrap that was available in the box at the dealer´s, it´s definitively one of the nicer ones. Prices reflected the sad state of most of the plates, so I could afford a goodly selection.

Thing is, they are made from real enamel, and of course having been fixed on a bike for a year, and very probably having served as a plaything afterwards (nice and kleurig, colourful, and just the right size too), many were reduced to a very sad state indeed. Those I skipped, and I bought these:

Dating from the 1930s, these are already simpler in shape – but still, real enamel.

That stopped during the war. I got this 1943 one, too,

which seemed unused, and discovered only at home that it actually had a twin stuck underneath it:

As you can see, 090409 was on top all of those years, its colour having faded a bit, and 090544 is as good as new. So I owe the antiques dealer one.

Them being war production, they are also made from re-used sheet metal:

If you look closely, you can see that there´s a “V” next to the Hainault “H”, and if one turns the thing round it becomes obvious that in its first life the plate used to be a West Vlaanderen one from the year before.

The Belgian system of those plates was quite sophisticated. If you look round on the net you see plates that were for the unemployed, coming free, but also those for childrens´ bikes – a thought I can´t really warm to. The plates in the end were too expensive to make, some it is said even were more expensive than what they brought in tax, so they were discontinued in the eighties. These two which I was given by a cycle dealer who I stopped at en route to the first classic RVV must be among the last ones issued.

And here´s one I unbolted from a cheap brake caliper out of a grab box at this year´s Stalen Ros (later addition, 24-04-2017):

 

Also I imagine those sharp metal edges jutting from the bikes must have been considered a risk by the eighties.

Once we´re at it, here are some Dutch plates I bought years and years ago in Haarlem, also for a song like those in Belgium last year:

Although they´re much simpler made, I also think they´re nice to look at. On the 1940 one it says “RWB” which must be Rijwielbelasting – Tax on Bicycles.

And lastly something I found in a fleamarket right in the middle of Germany:

Nothing to do with tax at all, this badge was worn by someone who took part in some editions of the Landelijke Fietsdag, nationwide bicycle day, organized as from 1973 by the ANWB, the largest club in the Netherlands with 4 million members and in charge, among other things, of all Dutch road signposting, and the VVV, the Dutch organization of all tourist information offices. No idea if the Fietsdag still exists, but I don´t think so. It´s a witness from a bygone era, too, when cycling events were organized by motorist organizations.

So it´s a good thing we don´t have to use any of the above.

Tubes & Coffee 2016

It was great as usual, thanks Marten.

Not much changes in Tubes and Coffee, but why change a successful format? This year there was a brazing demo again, and there were some bikes on exposition in the workshop, but the wonderful groentesoep (vegetable soup) and the apple crumble luckily were still there.

Also you meet new people every year, which is great. This year I talked to someone who had been to Japan recently, and that was quite interesting. I took dozens of pics, so I guess I´ll base this post on them, although many are not too good as the workshop wasn´t very well lighted. It´s not a photo studio after all.

xapplecrxcatxgroentesoepxworkshopLet´s start with what we all came for, food, the cat and the company.

Or did we? May be this…

xwhitefull

The bike was suspended from a work stand which made it hard to photograph fully. Anyway, wheel size is 650B.

xwhitebb xwhitesscoupl xwhitereardo xwhiterearbrake xwhiteheadtransf xwhitehbars xwhiteforkcr xwhitedownt xwhitecarrier xwhitebrakebr xwhitebbshell xwhitebbraw… was also an attraction. One of Marten´s customers´ bikes, a wonderful tourer. The bottom bracket shell is of the excentric type in order to avoid all the complicated and unsightly arrangements needed at the OEM dropouts for the Rohloff hub. The shell is seen in situ and, last pic, half finished for another bike. Marten makes them himself in the best constructeur tradition.

Or this beauty? A genuine RIH, as proven by the frame number on the lower headlug, but somewhat dilapidated.

xrihroest xrihroestfront xrihroestfrokcrOne of its brothers was already undergoing some rather thorough treatment after having shed the disguise of being a Giant. It was laid out on the aligning table also as a demo.

xrihrest xrihrestname xrihrestdeuk xrihrestaligntableOne other demo was grouped around the lathe. There was this medium quality Gazelle frame which obviously had had some problems with stuck stems. Yes, I know, the leftover alloy bit is of an extension, but it makes things clearer, doesn´t it?

xlathe xlatheresultAnd one more demo – Marten brazing. The freshly brazed frame and fork were not made that day, but serve as a … well, you know.

xbrazdemo1 xbrazdemo3 xbrazdemo2xbrazresultbrazresult2Now the last demo – of how to assemble an Airnimal, for which Marten is a representative. Quite fascinating, only hard to photograph because of insufficient lighting. Now one might think that the suitcase is a special – far from it, it was bought in the HEMA, a Dutch cheap department store.

xairnimalfull xairnimreardo xairnimcompl xairnimassy2 xairnimassy1Here´s a few more impressions of Marten´s workshop.

xtools2 xtoolsxlugsforkcrownsetc xlightdemoxtubes

If you´d like a good look at all of his machines in a workshop devoid of visitors, go here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3pb7ipC-BU

Soon it was time again to return home. We entrusted ourselves to – a different Volvo, yes, not the trusty 745 of yore, but a 945 Turbo, which zoomed along the Dutch roads. Well, sort of, given the 80 or 100kph speed limit.

xfarmvolv

Although the Volvo was parked right next to a Merc, it did not pick up any diseases. At least none showed up until our return home.

xreturnroadSee you next year.

Cyclists Dismount

Sorry for the recent lack of posts.

I´ve had an utter work overload, repeated instances of illness, plus my trusty old Mac failed at last, so there was literally no energy left for most cycling activities, let alone for the blog. What I find most amazing is that the less I write, the more clicks I seem to get – up to 1.500 a month. Thank you all for this, it´s inspiring.

Here´s a photo from a recent trip I took in the vicinity, to prove I´m still doing at least a little bit:

MielehochWesthoyel

 

But for the time being it will have to be

xRAbstfor me.

 

Stalen Ros and Fietsenbörse

Fietsenbörse

So I went to visit two bike fairs over the last few days, and both were special in their own ways. Let´s start with Fietsenbörse (Bike Exchange) which took place in Osnabrück on Sunday 13 March. The idea is that in the morning you bring your bike, pay a small retainer fee, go back home, or wherever, and come back in the afternoon to collect your money, minus a hefty percentage. Or your unsold bike.  Good idea, really, but the problem is: Who wants to sell bikes this way? Are there really that many people disgruntled with internet auction sites as Fietsenbörse organizers say?

FReihe

They started with a small fair in Münster some years ago and now want to make Fietsenbörse a regular event all over Northern Germany, so there should be a considerable number of potential sellers.

Admittedly, all which now follows are personal impressions gained on one fair and may not be representative, but what I saw was that the vast majority of bikes were attended by their sellers who had partly brought dozens of them and driven hundreds of kilometers, so you can call these people dealers in bikes. They quite openly said that they were attending many Fietsenbörse fairs. So if you´re a pensioner with tinkering inclinations, you´re on a state pension you can´t live off and want to make some money on the side, fine. However, when your tinkering leads to no usable bike, the buyers have a problem as you´ll be gone to some far flung place the very same day you flogged the bike.

So what bikes did I see? Dozens which had been picked up cheap in neighbouring Holland (to which two of the sellers admitted freely) where used bikes a worth next to nothing, and sold for up to fourfold the money spent on them. Horrible bike boom “racers” which you can pick up in the Netherlands for a song were advertised for up to 250 Euros.

KogaDames

FRoadreiheFKogarotThis Koga was top of the range, relatively speaking.

Then there were items like this el Cheapo, formerly a Dutch roadster, palmed off on the unsuspecting public as a top fashion single speed.

FCheapo FCheaporear FCheapodetFBunteSpcheaphubColourful spokes, but look at the hub.

FBatdet FBatfolderOf course there were some unusual bikes, too, even a rather nice early 60s Gazelle, but prices were what I would term as outrageuos.

Stalen Ros

Oh for the comparative heavens of Stalen Ros. What a difference, and what a relief, even at the greatly reduced state of things compared to what it was years ago.

Is it a law of nature that the number of visitors of a fair determines the quality of the goods for sale? The more people the less nice stuff? This time there were no, and I mean no, unusual things, nothing 1930s I saw for sale, but 80 per cent of the goods offered and the bikes displayed were uniform Italian and during the morning the event was so packed that one couldn´t move, literally, in places. Perhaps I was too late as I naively arrived at 10, the advertised opening time, when dozens, if not a hundred visitors had already been admitted.

XNArray XNSaddles XNpeloton  XNMasi3V XNMasi XNdecals XNClothing XNBSA XNBlackCampag XNBitsTrue, there were some really wonderful machines; Masis, some Dutch frames, but the general taste seems to go more and more towards 1970/80s mainstream.

Some unofficial dealing also went on outside, supposedly because the official space available inside had been taken up, but some hard feelings resulted nevertheless.

XNoutsideBut there`s also the social side of Stalen Ros. Of course there were the usual chinwags with stalwarts like John Barron or Hilary Stone who arrived in his great Citroen BX Commercial (wagon), the rarest item in all of the event, two- or four wheeled*. I met people from an unbelievable seven nations: The Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, the US, France, the UK and Germany. BTW, two randonneurs from Germany covered 150 kms to attend. The communal lunch at the chippy/diner on the other side of Neerkant´s main street has become somewhat of a fixture over the last few years. Wonderfully Dutch chips/French fries are munched, plans for the upcoming season exchanged, finds evaluated, missed opportunities cried over silently in a corner. Wonderful.

And back in the community hall of course there was this machine, prominently displayed:

XNSTfullSorry about the snap, but there was no way to shoot this paced speed record tandem any better. The beast was built for/by Schauff in Germany and showcased some interesting features.

XNSTbb XNSTheadb XNSTdoubletube XNSTchainwhchainstay XNSTbrakebrAnd then it was tot volgend jaar again. It will be the tenth time – time flies.

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*And the only nicer BX imagineable would be the 1988 Heuliez Surelevé prototype.

Nissan Classic Revival by Oldvelos

On Sunday September 13th 2015, Brendan Hennessy from Ireland will stage the Oldvelos Vintage International Classic.

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This event seems to be very a promising and tasty affair, not least because Brendan is one of those thoroughbred classic bike guys. He´s been involved in cycling ever since he was a kid, and remembers making his own SKIL peaked cap at age 11 – that´s something. It more or less goes without saying that he used to work as a cycle mechanic. As such he has the ability to get involved with prestige projects like rebuilding Steven Roche´s TI Raleigh – for a friend, who will hopefully use the bike in the event in September, Brendan says. He himself will be seen on the 1983 Bianchi Super Leggera that he raced as a teenager.

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He explains that the club “Oldvelos” organizes a number of events each year, and that write ups of those are available on the club´s website. However, this September´s Vintage International Classic will be special in that it´s planned as a Nissan Classic revival. Participants are requested to bring any memorabilia of this race which they might have in their collections.

There should be a number of these as Brendan thinks that the Nissan Classic was a focal point of cycling in Ireland, bringing back many of Ireland´s greats to show their prowess to folks at home. Namesdropping includes Roche, Early, Kimmage, McCormick, and of course Kelly.

Brendan makes possible participants´ mouths water by mentioning the event course: Among others, the Kerry mountains will be on the route sheet, from Killarney through the iconic ‘Gap of Dunloe’,

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a winding valley road in the Kerry mountains and on over country roads to some more tough climbing over the legendary Bealach Béime (13% all the way!) Carragh lake will be another salient point in the 75 mile run. I wish I had the time to attend.

The Oldvelos Vintage International Classic takes place in Killarney, Co. Kerry on Sunday September 13th 2015.  Killarney is one hour from Cork Airport and three hours from Dublin.

Photos courtesy Brendan Hennessy