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Tuesday
Dec192006

I’ve Been Tagged

I have been tagged by MN Bicycle Commuter. This means I have to write five unknown facts about myself. This seems a pretty harmless exercise, and bloggers are always looking for ideas to write about; so here goes.

1. It was 1946 in England, WWII had been over a year; I was ten years old. King George VI, father of Queen Elizabeth was coming through our town on his way somewhere else. In the days leading up to this event, we made paper flags at school

Whether real flags were not available, or the school was too cheap to buy us flags, I don’t know. But we each drew and colored a British flag on both sides of a piece of paper and then glued it to a stick.

The day finally came, and we all lined up at the roadside. We waited, and we waited, freezing our little asses off, for at least an hour. Finally, here came the motorcade, passing through at about 45 mph. We all started cheering and waiving our little paper flags.

Someone shouted “There he is” and pointed. I think I saw King George VI that day.

2. In 1967 I saw Jimi Hendrix play in Nottingham, England; at the time he was still relatively unknown in America. The show was in a fairly small venue, and was the loudest concert I have ever been to. He had Marshall speakers stacked floor to ceiling. I stood at the back of the room and the sound was pushing my chest in. I don’t believe it was by chance his band was called “The Jimi Hendrix Eperience.”

3. In the mid 1980s the owner of a bike store in Denver asked me if I would make an exception for a very special customer and personally measure him for a custom frame. The customer was the manager of the Denver Broncos football team. (I don’t recall his name.) The team was coming to San Diego to play the Chargers and after the game he would drive up to see me.

The outcome was, the Chargers beat the Broncos, and the team and the manager took an early flight home. (Obviously sore losers.) I never did get to measure him, or build him a frame. Had I done so I would probably remember his name.

4. I am married for the third and last time. I say that not only because I know I got it right this time, but because I believe a person should not be allowed to marry more than three times. If you can’t get it right after three times, you should have your license revoked, or something.

5. I am not a US citizen, but a green card carrying resident alien. I could apply for citizenship as I have lived here since 1979, but it is not one of the things that is high on my to do list. I have all the same rights as a citizen; they let me pay taxes, etc. The only things I can’t do, is vote, and do jury duty; two responsibilities I can live without.

So there it is, five pieces of little known and useless information about myself. Now, according to the rules of tagging, I have to tag five other people. Keep multiplying by five and I wonder how quickly every blogger on the planet will be tagged? I can only assume once you’ve been tagged, you are exempt from future tagging.

I tag:

Howard
Kent
Tim
Jason
Heather

Sunday
Dec172006

Thank Heaven these are Isolated Cases

On the heels of a report of a Mission Viejo cyclist who was chilled recently after being hit by a fast moving cold front; comes another troubling story of a San Clemente man who rode his bicycle down a busy street and turned into a Seven Eleven.

Taking a big gulp before commenting on this startling and unexpected transformation his wife said, “He had a brother who a few years ago turned into a woman, but we never expected this. I’m afraid now people will say this is just a marriage of convenience”

Ending on an optimistic note she added, “It is nice to be able to get coffee and doughnuts at any time of the day, Grandma doesn’t have to go far for her lottery tickets, and we never run out of milk.”

Thursday
Dec142006

David Tesch


On this day, December 14, 2003, David Tesch passed away too soon at only 44 years old.

I first met Dave early in 1982. I worked for Masi from October of 1980 until the end of 1981. I always state that I worked for Masi, but strictly speaking I built Masi frames, working for Ted Kirkbride who was subcontracted to build the frames.

Roland Sahm the man who had brought Feleiro Masi to America in the mid 1970s still owned Masi USA. The original Carlsbad, CA factory had closed some of the equipment had been moved to Sahm’s ranch in Rancho Santa Fe, just north of San Diego. There were a few frames still being built by local framebuilder Rob Roberson.

Around 1980 there was an upsurge in Masi sales, due partly to the movie Breaking Away, in which a Masi played a leading roll as the main character’s bike. Local bike store owner Ted Kirkbride opened a small frameshop in nearby San Marcos, CA and I was brought in to build Masi frames in addition to those being built at Sahm’s ranch.

To keep his overhead low, Ted Kirkbride rented out space and use of the equipment to local independent framebuilder Brian Baylis, and ex-Masi painter Jim Cunningham who had a frame re-finishing business called Cyclart. In addition there was painter, Jim Allen who painted the Masi frames.


As I recall, it was Cyclart who brought Dave Tesch to the San Marcos shop to do frame repairs for them. Dave had some framebuilding experience having worked for Trek, in Wisconsin. Dave Tesch would have been about 22 or 23 years old at the time.

At the end of 1981, I had been laid off by Ted Kirkbride due to an excess inventory of Masi frames, and in January 1982 I too was building my own frames; renting space in a very small and what was becoming an increasingly crowded frameshop.

Into this crowded mix of very diverse, independently creative people; each with a different agenda and ego, came David Tesch; full of the energy and enthusiasm of his youth. What stands out most in my memory was the fact that he talked incessantly, and loudly. When he wasn’t talking to others in the shop, he was on the phone to his friends and family back in Wisconsin, recalling what he had learned that day.

The guy was like a sponge, just wanting to soak up every scrap of framebuilding knowledge he could. For my part I just wanted to get as much work done as I could, and get the hell out of there and into my own frameshop. It was like having a child who keeps asking, why, why, why? While you are trying to get work done.

Things were not made easier when I was asked to build Masi frames again, because now I had more than enough work building my own frames. This did give Dave Tesch the break he was looking for and he was able to take over the Masi production. Although we now had three separate framebuilders sharing the same equipment, and three painters, including myself, sharing one paint booth.

The following summer I was able to move into my own shop also in San Marcos, and my relationship with Dave Tesch and the others improved greatly with a mile distance between us. I went on to build the John Howard frames, and Dave Tesch worked part time for me.


Around 1984 Dave opened his own small frameshop across town in San Marcos, and took over the building of the John Howard frames when I switched to production of the Fuso.

I have never known a young framebuilder who became so good at his craft, as quickly as Dave Tesch; he obviously had a natural talent.

Physically he reminded me a little of Keith Moon, drummer with The Who. Dark hair, dark, sometimes wild looking eyes. Casual to the point of being scatter-brained in everything except his framebuilding, in which he was meticulous.

One story I recall, he came out of his frameshop one evening with a brand new frame he was to deliver to a customer. He was about to put the frame in his car trunk when his phone rang. He sat the frame down on its rear drop-outs leaning against the back of the car.

In typical Dave Tesch fashion he talked on the phone for an hour, and it was dark when he finally hung up. He locked up his shop, jumped in his car and backed over the brand new frame. Later when he told me the story, he thought it was hilarious; he could laugh at his own dumb mistake.

Dave had to close his frameshop in the early 1990s due to the fall off in demand for road bikes; for the same reason I would follow him a few years later. The difference was Dave Tesch was young enough that he probably would have returned to framebuilding had it not been for his premature death.

His frames still exist; treasured by their owners and each a tribute and a legacy of his craftsmanship.

Monday
Dec112006

Helmet Use: And the beat goes on.


First let me thank everyone for the outpouring of good wishes and positive thoughts towards my recovery; I continue to improve every day. There was a sudden influx of well wishers last evening, when someone posted the story of my accident on Bike Forums.

This, it turned out started a sometimes quite heated helmet debate. Speaking for myself, I am glad I just happened to have that inch of foam plastic between my head and the side of the vehicle when I hit. To me it is all clear and simple, drop an egg on the hard kitchen floor and it will break, guaranteed.

Put an egg in a padded envelope and drop it on the floor and there is a possibility it may not break, or it may end up only cracked. Which incidentally is what happened to my head; it is slightly cracked. Had my head been broken, like Humpty Dumpty, they may not have been able to put it together again.

I started cycling in the 1950s in England when no one wore head protection even while racing with the exception of track riders. When I landed in the US in 1979 it seemed I had arrived among a nation of Freds*, all wearing those God awful looking, mushroom shaped Bell helmets, with little dentist mirrors attached. And every one it seemed had a story to tell how their helmet saved their life.

I rode all through the 1980s without a helmet; I didn’t see why I needed one. I was a skilled enough rider and I wasn’t planning on falling on my head. When I started back riding this year, I decided to wear one for the first time. I still wasn’t planning to fall on my head, but I could find no reason to not wear one.

Helmets have come a long way and have become accepted by the serious road rider, even worn in the Tour de France. They actually keep your head cooler in summer; after all, they are made of the same material they use to make ice chests. But, most of all I did it as a concession to my wife who is a non-cyclist and was a little apprehensive about me riding again.

Now I realize there is another huge reason to wear head protection. Traffic has increased tremendously in the last thirty years; automobiles have become easier to drive, with more and more protection for the driver. This has all led to a casual, sloppy attitude towards driving; everyone is locked up in their own little steel cocoon, and no one cares about the welfare and safety of others around them anymore.

I wish rather than promote the use of helmets I could change the attitude and driving skills of other road users. I believe that if every person was forced to ride a bicycle on the busy highways for a period it would make them a far better driver, but that’s not going to happen.

-----------------------------------------------
*Fred (n.) A person who has a mishmash of old gear, does't care at all about technology or fashion, doesn't race or follow racing, etc. Often identified by chainring marks on white calf socks. Used by "serious" roadies to disparage utility cyclists and touring riders, especially after these totally unfashionable "freds" drop the "serious" roadies on hills.

From Glossary of Bicycle Terms.

Saturday
Dec092006

And this was with a Helmet!


The abrasion on my head was actually caused by the helmet though a cotton bandana that I was wearing underneath. (See my previous post.)

I am convinced without the helmet it would have been instant death. As it is I have a hairline scull fracture, and the day it happened I had a big ol’ knot on my head the size of a tennis ball.


Being old, old skool, having first started riding in the 1950s when nobody wore head protection, though the 1970s when we wore the token “leather hairnet;” it was only this year when I started riding again did I use a helmet for the first time.

Most serious roadies wear a helmet these days, but parents need to get their kids to wear them too. Don’t buy a bike for your child without buying a helmet and making them use it every time? Okay, so I fell on my head a few times as a kid and survived, but the big difference was, we didn’t build make shift ramps and try to jump over shit. Plus of course traffic is so much worse now.

And what about our motorcycling brothers; the State of South Carolina does not have a motorcycle helmet law. I know, it is a personal choice and I shouldn’t even go there, (I'm in enough bleedin' trouble.) but when that SUV pulled in front of me, it could have just as easily been a motorcycle going a hella'va lot faster than I was.

I want to thank everyone for their kind comments and well wishes, they sure are appreciated. In addition to all the comments posted on my last blog, I have received many personal emails.