The Rides - Tearing Down the Coast - CycleBlaze

The Rides

I traveled in Europe when I was a freshman in highschool and very much wanted to buy a real racing bicycle.  I was shown a stunning full Campagnolo equipped Legnano for ₤240,000.00 (Italian lira), about $120.00 US.  I really didn't know much at all about top end bicycles and regret to this day that I didn't buy it.  When I returned home I went to Smith's Cycles and there in the store window was their one and only Schwinn Paramount, exactly my size, antique gold and considerably more expensive than the bike I passed on in Italy.  It had a double butted, chrome-moly, silver soldered lugged frame, Campagnolo Record drivetrain with a mix of French and English peripherals.  

It needs to be noted that Campy was the gold standard for drive trains back in the day, with  shifting and durability unmatched at the time.   To put that in perspective, the Record derailleurs shifted about as well as a low end Shimano knockoff from Walmart equipped bike today. It took my life's savings over $300.00 to get it down from the showroom window and ride it home.  That Paramount in many ways was the sweetest ride I have ever owned.

In California there were two big centers of bicycle road racing. San Diego had an Eastern European population and San Jose with its large Italian community. San Jose would be a cycling oasis that refreshed our bikes so we could complete the last two legs of our journey.  Ed lived in San Diego and was on a junior level road racing team.  He rode an Allegro Special, a Swiss bike, that was similar to my Paramount.

Both our bikes rolled on "sew-ups," "glue-ons," tubular tires, with state of the art "duralium" rims. Between us we took four new sew-up tires and five old repaired ones as spares (can't have too many).  Back in the day "alloy" referred to chrome-moly tubing and "steel" frames were just that mild steel or what we called "water pipe specials".  We put on the state of the art Swiss aluminum rear racks by Pletscher.  Holding nothing more than a six pound sleeping bag and a few spare tires they could sway side to side when we climbed out of the saddle on grades.  With out gearing climbing out of the saddle was no an option but how one climbed all but the most modest of grades. Our main storage was the type of large saddlebags that are the retro-craze of today.  Of course I wore my hand sewn Italian bike gloves, 75¢ or ₤625.00.

Bicycles were simpler back in the day, even fancy racing bikes. A chain tool, pliers, a small crescent wrench, extra spokes, a spoke wrench, a slotted screwdriver, a tiny can of "3-in-One" oil, a sew-up tire patch kit complete with needle, thread and thimble, glue and patches for the latex tubes inside the sew-ups and tubular rim cement rounded out our tool kit.  A crank puller and freewheel remover were added later via the Canadian and US post offices general delivery.  We shared a single very lightweight combination bike lock that could have been broken easily with a small screwdriver.

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