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Friday
Jan252013

Mike Moulton: Restored

Somewhere back around the end of 2005 I received an email from a Joe Cerone:

Sir: I have a bike that was custom made for me by a Lockheed Engineer by the name of Mike Moulton, his name is stamped on the fork.

He made this for me in 1949 and I raced it all over America as well as a member of the All American Team that toured Japan in 1951.

I won three California State Championships on the bike, 49,50, 51. Are you any kin to Mike?----Joe Cirone.

This was the first I had heard of Mike Moulton. We are not related but Moulton is a quite common English name. I later wrote an article here, and as a result I was contacted by Mike Moulton’s daughter and his nephew, unfortunately after I responded they never got back to me.

As Joe stated, Mike Moulton was an engineer at Lockheed Aircraft and started building frames as a hobby around 1947. 

He built frames for about 4 years or so. The bike on the left is the one he built for Joe Cerone.

Los Angeles area cyclists raced on his bikes all around especially in those early years when the Burbank track was up and running around 1948/9.

Just this week I received an email from Jeff Groman who sent me pictures of a beautifully restored bike built by Mike Moulton in the mid to late 1940s. It was originally built for a rider named “Rusty” Baker.

The bike is built up with period correct parts including Airlite hubs, Chater Lea cranks, the handlebar stem is of unknown make. The bike will be displayed at Classic Cycles, Bainbridge Island, WA.

Although Mike Moulton only built a few frames as a hobby, he did so in an era when there were very few other American framebuilders. So this is a wonderful thing that Jeff Groman has done by restoring this bike. It is an important piece of Americana and American bike history.

Mike would have had to get his materials mailed over from England. The lugs are Chater Lea cast steel. These were rough sand casting that required a great deal of hand filing, and were typical of those used by English builders in the 1930s and 1940s. The tubing is most likely Reynolds 531.

 

Below are pictures of the bike before restoration. 

 

 

                       

Tuesday
Jan222013

Vintage Bikes

I was recently sent a link to this interesting video. (Above) It features a vintage bicycle event held annually in Tuscany, Italy. It is much like other similar events held in various parts of the world, one of the most popular in the US being Le Cirque du Cyclisme held in Leesburg, Virginia, May 17-19, this year.

A vintage bicycle is usually considered to be one from the mid 1980s or before. It occurred to me watching this video that the 1980s will probably be the last era of collectable bicycles.

It is the cutoff date where bicycles stopped being hand brazed lugged steel, with the same 1 1/8 inch diameter seat and down tubes, and level (Horizontal.) 1 inch top tubes. A standard that was set in the late 1800s early 1900s. It is the end of an era when bicycle frames bore the name of an individual craftsman that either built the frame or at least one time built the frame.

Bicycles are now made by corporations like most other products, Trek, Cannondale, and a whole host of others, some that have emerged in the last twenty years or so. I cannot see bicycles built today being collected in the future, not in large numbers anyway; anymore than I can see modern cars being collected.

The event in the video, l’Eroica, attracted over 3,000 participants, a large number; but when you consider that there were millions of bicycles built in Europe alone between say the 1950s and 1980s 3,000 then seems quite small.

I am finding this is holding true with my own Bicycle Registry. From 1984 to 1993 I built somewhere slightly under 3,000 Fuso frames. On my registry I can only account for a hundred or so of them. My registry has 163 members total at the time of writing this. Again small by comparison against the amount I produced over the years.

In order for a bicycle, bicycle frame or any other product for that matter to become collectable, it has to show that it will last a long time. Frames I built over thirty years ago are still being ridden today; it is safe to assume that they can safely be ridden for at least 50 years, or longer depending on how often it is used.

It is not unusual to discover a bicycle that has been sitting in a garage or basement for twenty years and is in mint condition, having had little or no use. In 2007 I bought a Recherché frame that I built in 1985; it was “New Old Stock,” (NOS) having been hanging in a bike store for 21 years. Its age is now 28, but it has had under 6 years of use.

I feel extremely fortunate to have had a career during this 1980s period, and was a part of the ending of an era. There are still new framebuilders out there, spurred on by events like the North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show. (NAHBS)

A few of their frames may be collected in the future, if only for the quality and the rarity, but in general in order for something to be collectable it has to have a number of collectors interested in the same item, if only for the reason of buying and selling the item.

Collecting vintage bicycles can be fun. It is far less costly than collecting vintage cars, and requires a lot less space. Because of the economy, it is a buyer’s market right now, and vintage bikes across the board are at an all time low.

Besides owning something of beauty, collectors are preserving something for future generations. They may also get the added pleasure of meeting other like minded people and attending events like l’Erocia or Le Cirque du Cyclisme.

 

I suggest you view the video in full screen mode to get the full effect not only of the vintage bikes but the beauty of the region where this event was held.

 

                       

Thursday
Jan172013

Just go away

I wish Lance Armstrong would go away; I am tired of looking at his face. I’m even tired of being tired of looking at his face and reading about him…. At this point I hesitate because here I am writing more about LA, adding to the shit pile, so to speak.

But I always find writing is great therapy; better to write the shit out, than to hold it in. To hold it in is emotional constipation. So this is simply an exercise to release my own frustrations, and possibly you will release some of your frustrations with a comment at the end.

I am frustrated with people who still say, “Lance doped in an era when everyone doped, therefore it was okay, and the playing field was level.” It is not okay. If the old cliché, “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” has any truth to it, then everybody and his brother doping sure as Hell doesn’t make that right.

It means that anyone arriving new to the professional ranks has two choices. Take dope, not necessarily to win, but to keep from being shot out of the back of the peloton. The other choice is, not participate, and don’t become a professional cyclist.

In my teen years and early twenties I had dreams of one day being a professional cyclist. I made it to the top as a Category One amateur, it never entered my head to dope, and I never knew any other amateurs who doped.

It later became clear to me that I was never going to make it to the professional ranks; I simply did not have what it took. Also at the time, the mid to late 1960s, if I was really serious about a pro career I would have to move to France or Belgium, and that was not going to happen; I was married and had a family to support.

I continued to race for the competition, for the exercise, but mainly for the pure fun of it. There was always a great sense of friendship and camaraderie among British riders. There was always a great deal of humorous banter, and light hearted ribbing and joking going on in “The Bunch.” We never called it a Peloton; that was a French word reserved for races like the Tour de France. Not amateur races limited to 40 riders held on English country lanes.  

Because the races were held on open roads with normal motor traffic, each rider looked out for everyone else; shouting out a warning if the was a car approaching, etc. No one made any dangerous moves that would jeopardize the safety of other. If they did they would be ostracized by the other riders.

There was an occasion when my chain came off during a race, and two other riders, complete strangers to me, grabbed my jersey and towed me along while I reached down and put my chain back on the chainring. Those riders knew if I were dropped from the bunch for something as stupid as an unshipped chain, my whole day would be ruined. Plus by being forced to stop in the middle of a bunch. I could have caused a pile up.

When I arrived in the US in 1979, the racing was no longer on open roads with real hills to climb, but were Criteriums, races round a city block that had been closed to traffic. A lung bursting sprint, 100 yards down a city street, then brake, followed by another sprint. I was now in my early 40s and this was not for me.

Also gone was the sense of camaraderie and looking out for each other, instead there was a nasty, mean-spirited competiveness. People making downright dangerous moves in an attempt to win at all costs.

Worst of all guys were openly snorting cocaine before the race; I mean passing it around on the start line. I was no slouch, but there were guys riding touring bikes with pannier racks and fenders riding past me in the finishing sprint. I quit because racing was no longer any fun.

Some of these races were piddling little club races with no prizes, which in my book made winning at all costs even more pathetic. I would never race as a veteran; you can be sure there are those out there using Testosterone, and Human Growth Hormones, because these can be readily prescribed by any family doctor.

In any race, or in any sport for that matter, there are only a handful of competitors capable of winning; the rest make up the field, and without them there would be no race, or no game. There would be no Tour de France if there were only 20 top riders, there has to be a field of 150 riders for the top 20 to emerge from.

Back in Roman times, Gladiators fought to the death. Fun for the spectators; not so much for the competitors. Modern sports are combat without killing, or war without tears. Sports should teach children that life is a struggle, and it takes hard work and dedication to get ahead. But you can still have fun doing it.

It should also teach children about fair play; it is not okay to cheat, or bully your way to the top, with a win at all costs attitude. People who do that in real life are called “Assholes.”

Right now Lance Armstrong is King of the Assholes, and people who say what he did is okay are saying it is alright to be an asshole. Thanks for allowing me to vent.

 

                        

Thursday
Jan102013

Hit and Run

Do an online search for “Cycling” news and invariably there will be a story of a cyclist killed somewhere.

I could post such a story every day, but I won’t; it is too depressing and it gives a false view of cycling.

Less than two cyclists a day die on American streets and highways, and when compared with the total of around 90 deaths a day from all traffic related collisions the number is small.

What you seldom see is any follow up article; whether there were any charges brought, or if anyone held accountable.

In May of last year I wrote a piece called, “Too many Hit and Runs.” I told about a local Charleston cyclist who was hit from the rear and killed; the driver failed to stop.

The collision occurred late Friday evening, or rather the early hour of Saturday morning and I speculated as to whether alcohol was involved. The driver surrendered to the police the following Tuesday, so if he was drunk at the time of the crash it could never be proved.

Earlier this week Jason Marion aged 32 plead guilty to Reckless Homicide and was sentenced to six years in prison, to be followed by three years probation. There was a plea deal involved and the family of the dead man, Gerry Nietos were in agreement with this deal. Their attorney issued the following statement after the trial:

“Gerry Nieto’s loss is felt by his friends and family every day, but they see no sense in destroying two families. The Nietos believe that the sentence was appropriate as it punishes Mr. Marion with prison time for harming Gerry, yet it leaves room for Marion to be rehabilitated and reunited with his own family before his young daughter is all grown up.”

Reported in this way it throws a sympathetic light on Jason Marion (Pictured above.) It portrays him as a young man who screwed up, but was remorseful afterwards and gave himself up, plead guilty and accepted his punishment.

It is true that had he not given himself up, he may never have been found. On the other hand, had Jason Marion done the right thing in the first place, which would have been to stop render assistance and call paramedics; if he was drunk he would have possibly received a prison sentence that was double the six years he received; maybe as much as 25 years.

There would also be little public sympathy for Marion no matter how remorseful he was after the fact. People found guilty of killing someone while drunk are dealt with harshly not just as a punishment but as a deterrent to others who may consider driving drunk.

As it stands now if a person is driving drunk and they hit a cyclist or pedestrian they stand a better chance of getting off with a lighter penalty if they just keep driving and surrender later.

Until hit and runs receive the same penalties and public stigma as drunk driving they will continue. Driving drunk is bad enough, but how callous is it to hit someone and leave them to die like a dog at the side of the road.

 

                       

Tuesday
Jan082013

Voodoo

Voodoo or rather its Black Magic offshoot is practiced in certain parts of the world and sometimes a curse is put on someone and that person dies. There is absolutely no medical reason for the person to die, and yet their belief in the curse and the suggestion of it is enough to bring about their demise.

I wonder if the media in America does the very same thing by constantly suggesting that one in four people will get this disease and one in six people will die of that disease. And the people believe in this; just like Black Magic they oblige by dying.

Some years ago it was noticed that French people generally eat a high fat diet and yet they have less heart disease than there is in the US. It has been suggested that maybe drinking red wine as the French do somehow prevents the buildup of the bad cholesterol in the body.

Maybe so, but can it also be that heart disease is not in the psyche of the French people as a Nation? Maybe they are not being told constantly by their media that heart disease is the number one killer in their country.

In many European countries, cancer and not heart disease is said to be the number one killer. So is this too a case of a prophecy causing the outcome?

I have said this before, but it bears repeating. Much of the medical profession now accepts that prayer can help a person heal. What is a prayer but a positive thought. It is not the ritual or the actual words spoken in the prayer, but the belief in the outcome; in other words, faith. Without the belief that there will be a positive outcome the prayer will not work.

So if a positive thought can bring about healing, is it not entirely possible that a negative thought caused the malady in the first place. What other explanation is there for an otherwise healthy person to die as a result of a Black Magic curse other than the power of thought and suggestion?

Thoughts are like seeds and there is no distinction as to whether a thought is positive or negative; whether the ritual is a religious prayer or some Black Magic rite. It is not the thought, but a person’s belief in the outcome that causes the seed come to fruition.

Do you have any thoughts on the power of thought?