Saturday, May 12, 2007

[ 9 ] Sweet grab.

On a Serotta PDX ride...

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

[ 8 ] Back in the saddle.

Saturday, April 28. St. John's Bridge, Portland.

[ 7 ] Luck happens, part 2.

The good thing about not having 70411 here anymore was that it wasn't stolen when my house was robbed. I was just moving in, had all my "big" stuff in--electronics, clothes, bikes--and they took most of it all. Everything except my laptop and my Vanilla. They even took some of my socks, underwear, my coolest t-shirts, some jackets, cycling shoes, TVs, DVD players, etc etc etc and four bikes: the Pegoretti, Gunnar and two Kellys, along with some spare wheelsets. This just as I thought things were starting to look up. This was a crusher.

Oddly enough, I had written Tom B a few weeks before to check in on the Serotta. It was the one bike I'd sold that I'd never forgotten, and felt sick I'd even let go of in the first place. Clearly, I needed funds when I had to sell it... but how then did I acquire other bikes since it? It made no sense to me, the one person responsible for it. (Did I mention these were dark times?)

So I followed up my initial hello with a humble plea after the break in. I asked Tom if he would sell the Serotta back to me. Still makes me squirm thinking about putting a friend in that position; it wasn't out of selfishness or greed or anything like that (though I know it put Tom between the wall and the sword.) I told him I really would understand if he didn't want to; and I really did. It wouldn't have surprised me at all. He surprised me instead by selling it back to me. I don't think he knows how much he helped me and my spirit with that gesture. Thank you Tom Byrnes, truly, thank you. I am in debt to you.

70411 was back!

[ 6 ] The lost year(s).

No need for too much sharing here. But little by little, I think I was trying to reclaim some happiness through bikes...

The Legend begat a Trek 5500. The Trek begat a Pegoretti Fina Estampa, which begat a Pegoretti Duende. Added to the stable was an Serotta Atlanta in the most amazing orange I've ever seen; this is the color I could see putting 70411 in someday. I built up a Kelly Knobby X bike as a single speed, then gave it gears. I got a great deal on a Gunnar Crosshairs, new, as a commuter/cx training bike. I still had my Vanilla fixie. I found a few frames I did nothing with and ended up reselling (Landshark, Bianchi, Cannondale, even a mint Serotta Hors Categorie and a nice Serotta Otrott ST.)

Here's one.

I was happy-ish, sort of. I really missed that white Serotta, though. Nothing--nothing--felt the same since.

[ 5 ] Life happens.

Life. Sometimes you go through dark periods, very very dark times, everything's upside down and knotted up like you can't believe. When all the bad stuff you can imagine (and a lot you never could) just piles on and doesn't quit.

[ This sucked. ]

I so badly didn't want to sell, but I didn't see any other choice given what I was facing. You're going through the unimaginable, so you do the unimaginable. You become numb, among other things.

Luckily, my bike went to a good home, and even better person: Tom Byrnes, from my Serotta forum. Such a gentleman, one who appreciated that all bikes aren't created equal; some are more equal than others. Anyway, the deal was done. At least my bike was going to someone with a similar mindset (although I'd never met him in person!) And life as I knew it went on.

[ 4 ] Luck happens.

From: "Kelly Bedford"
Date: April 13, 2004 6:06:54 AM PDT
To: Andy Askren
Subject: RE: Serotta Serial number...

Hello Andrew,
Surprise, surprise you're a lucky fellow!
According to our records the frame you have is one of the original Tour de France bikes built specifically for Ron Kiefel. Even though we've tried to engineer our Ti and steel frames to have closely matched ride qualities, the reality is they are still different materials with different ride qualities. It's possible that steel suits your climbing style a bit better but on the other hand, Ti may suit your style better in other areas. Since you've just started riding this frame I would suggest spending more time on it, and then possibly riding each one back to back in varying conditions to get a feel for what conditions each one excels in.
They are both wonderful frames...enjoy.

That's the note I got back from Kelly Bedford at Serotta, replying to my inquiry about the background of #70411, with a couple ride notes comparing my Legend Ti.

How proud am I of this detective work?!

Remember, by now I've been riding this bike more and more and still marveling at how good it feels to me. The developing chronicle of this ride just fueled the experience.

I followed up with Kelly to see if he had any specs on the geometry, measurements, etc. He sent a note to Ron.

From: Kelly Bedford []
Sent: Friday, April 16, 2004 11:37 AM
Subject: Vintage TDF frame

Hello Ron,
I have a customer that has acquired one of your original Huffy Team TDF frames and, is very interested in finding out some details on it. I've already given him a general description of the why's and how's of the construction of these frames but I was hoping you might be able to shed some light on your geometry from that time period as versus what you ride now. I wouldn't normally bother you with this but, I haven't been able to find any records of your build specs from back then.
Thanks, Kelly

Interesting he refers to it as a Huffy. Hmm. But wait, there's more...

From: Ron Kiefel []
Sent: Tuesday, April 20, 2004 9:01 PM
To: Kelly Bedford
Subject: RE: Vintage TDF frame

Hi Kelly,

I think the geometry is 59x57 with a 73 deg seat angle. Most of my frames where designed around that geometry which was based on a GIOS frame that I had prior. I still ride the same basic geometry with the handlebars about 1-2 cm's higher. I need more room for the paunch:)


Ron Kiefel


[ 3 ] TdF??? WtF?

So now I'm interested in these "special" lugs. I post my questions and pictures of my ride to the Serotta forum, home of people who've forgotten more about bikes and bike history than I will ever know...especially Serottas (duh.)

My original post here.

Turns out, they were indeed special lugs: the infamous "TdF lugs," designed and carved by Kelly Bedford. All sorts of specialness. I sent off an email to Serotta with my serial number asking if they had any more information about the frame's history.

(Kelly's come.)

[ 2 ] It's here. Now what?

"Wow, these old steel bikes sure had skinny tubes." Sort of what I thought when I had my first look at the frame. But it sure looked good as new coming out of all the factory wrapping; a few too many Serotta decals for my taste, but I didn't have my hopes very high to begin with, so all was good.

I didn't have a "plan" for this bike yet, so I left it alone for a few months. During that time, I acquired some new Ultegra 9-speed components, a set of nice wheels, a newish Serotta ti quill stem, new Chris King 1" threaded headset. Nice stuff, but not especially bling or even with any particular direction in mind. Just thought it might be decent stuff for a test ride on my new toy.

At the time, I wasn't all that confident building up my own bikes, so I had the good people at Bike Gallery in Portland do it. I took in the frameset and my pile o parts; when I got in, resident stud racer and good guy Shannon sees the frame and is interested. Tells me he used to work at Serotta, actually. Points out that I have these special lugs, lugs that Kelly Bedford, Serotta's master builder, carved up especially for Tour de France bikes, or something like that. Already I was feeling pretty proud, so when I went back a few days later and saw the build, I was especially pleased with how it all had come together. Incredible job, but the mechanic in charge said that on the test ride he noticed the rear wheel slipped a little in the horizontal dropouts when you really jumped on it. Suggested I really clamp it down like a mofo and keep an eye on it...

(Early build pics... Serotta forum comments, etc... to come.)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

[ 1 ] I found it, it found me.

Post #1.
It's fun to remember this. This is good.

In the beginning, all I wanted was a nice, classic, steel Serotta to build up as rain bike, or maybe a tame single speed commuter. Just something simple, older, sort of interesting. I was leaning toward Serotta because at the time I had an '03 Legend Ti that was rather nice and I liked what Ben and company did for cycling in general. Ebay seemed like a logical place to troll.

Wish I had the original ebay auction info, but I don't. Can't remember the seller's ID or anything either which is a shame considering. But the posting seemed straightforward enough; essentially, the story went: the seller had inherited the frame from a relative who worked for True Temper, who had supplied tubing to Serotta back in the mid- to late-80's (when Serotta was building bikes for 7-11 and Huffy teams, I guess.) True Temper-guy had received it as a freebie of sorts from his association with the team; had squirreled it away and passed it onto the seller some years later. Thinking he might ride it, seller had sent it back to Serotta to have it refurbished (number tag clipped, etc.) and repainted, only to never even unpack it from its original box (except for pictures for the auction.) So at this point, this freshened-up frameset has been in storage, or wrapped in a box, sitting on a shelf somewhere, sight unseen, for a long damn time.

There are no bids, the frame is a Serotta, it's steel, seems clean, seems like I don't have much to lose if I go in for a little over $300 or something. So I bid, and kind of forget about it. Until I actually win it.

Sweet! But still not thinking it's that big a deal...

(The build... the ride... Kelly's note... etc. -- coming soon.)