In a recent blog, Still bargains to be found out there, I wrote about a Fuso bike picked up at a garage sale.
Mark Worden who found this one sent me these pictures.
Built twenty years ago in 1987, the 30th Anniversary year, the bike was ridden for 2 years then sat in a garage for the next 18 years.
Amazingly, the bike was picked up for $75. Too small for him, a 55cm. Mark passed it on to a friend.
The bike came with sprint wheels and tubular tires, which Mark kept; the wheels seen here are temporary. The new owner is awaiting a new set of wheels. It makes me feel good that another Fuso has been liberated and is being ridden.
The beauty of these bikes is in the way they ride, and they need to be ridden to be appreciated.
Tip: The white decal panels on these frames are adhesive Mylar, clear coated over with multiple clear coats; they are normally very durable.
However, do not, repeat, do not let a bike store mechanic clamp the frame in a work stand, placing the clamp over the decal. It will permanently mark the white panel.
Most children are born with the potential to be an artist. A child’s imagination is pure creativity, and the basic instinct every child has; is to show off. “Look mommy, look at me.” The problem is the creativity, in most cases, is educated out of the child.
A child comes to a parent with some fantastic story, and they are told, “That’s not true, you made that up.” Instead of given credit for creating something, that is possibly quite cleaver. A better response might be, “That’s a wonderful story; did you make that up all by yourself?”
A child needs to be taught the difference between fact and fantasy, but what is writing a novel other than making stuff up and writing it down. In other words, child’s play.
I was fortunate that I had a mother who encouraged me to be creative, to draw and paint, and make things. She gave me praise for what I had created, and more important she told others about my creations. She built my self-esteem.
If your look up the word “ego” in the dictionary, it refers to self esteem; contrary to an “egotist” which refers to a self-centered person. As I see it, an artist can have an ego, and not necessarily be egotistical. However, we are often taught throughout our life that it is wrong to have an ego.
Children are taught that it is wrong to “show off.” Showing off is only wrong, when you have nothing worthwhile to show. The loud mouth in the bar is saying, “Look at me,” but when we look, there is no talent, nothing to see.
Most artists have an ego, the desire to “show off.” Without it, there would be no art. No TV or movies made; no books to read, and no music on radio or CD. Why would any actor get up on a stage or in front of a camera, if they did not have the ego to say, “Look at me, and look at what I can do?”
Initially an artist creates for their own satisfaction of seeing what they have created. I always got a tremendous rush from looking at my finished bicycle frames. For some this is enough, but for most, we need the validation of others. This usually comes in the form of people putting down their hard-earned money for what you have created.
The driving force behind most artists is not money. Those who become artists to make a lot of money usually are not good artists and rarely make any. Some artists do make a lot of money, movie stars for example. The money is really a validation of their work; a large number of people appreciate what they do.
All artists are successful, there are only varying degrees of success. The simple act of creating something is a success in and of itself, even if it only benefits its creator. Who would even attempt to write a book if they didn’t think in the first place that someone would read what they had written? If no one tried in the first place for fear of failure, there would be no books.
No creative work is a complete failure, sometimes it is necessary to create one piece of work, simply to enable the artist to move on to the next. Failure paves the way for success in the future. Success cannot always be measured in terms of money. This blog has a readership of 1,000 people a day; I would say that is successful, even though my rewards are not monetary.
The line between ego and egotistical can be extremely thin. How do I write about myself and not appear egotistical? I tell myself it is okay as long as I have something worthwhile to say.
I was blessed in this life to have been given the ability and the opportunity to build a few decent bicycle frames. Along the way, I gathered a great deal of knowledge about the bicycle and its design. Most of this knowledge is in my head and when I am gone, it too will be gone; that would be a shame and a waste.
Writing satisfies my creative passion, just as building bicycle frames did in the past. My purpose is to share knowledge, enlighten, and attempt to entertain. Statistics show that readership here is steadily increasing. As long as this trend continues, I will continue. This is my validation.
A few months ago I came across a brand of coffee called 53 x 11.
My first reaction was, “What a cool name.” It’s a very “inside” name that only a cyclist would get, and maybe even only a road bike rider would get.
For the benefit of my non-biking readers, 53 x 11 refers to the highest gear on a road bike, this being the number of teeth on the chainwheel and the rear sprocket.
The name impressed me enough that I placed a link to their website on my favorite site list on this page. About two or three weeks ago I got and email from Evan Lawrence thanking me for the link and asking me if I would like a sample of their coffee.
Evan is one of the guys behind 53 x 11 coffee; the other is Owen Gue. These are two young and very enthusiastic bike racers, originally from Montana. Evan and Owen started training and racing together about six years or so.
Living in Montana had its advantages and disadvantages; there is some great riding but not very many races. So in order to race they found themselves road tripping together across the USA.
Being poor bike racers they often slept in their car and used whatever equipment they could find. Evan recalled using garbage bags as rain jackets because neither of them could afford at good jacket.
They were hooked from the start. Evan told me “There's just something about pushing yourself to the limit and then finding out that there are no limits. I guess that's what I love about the sport.”
Living in Montana also made it hard to train in the winter. Evan lived and worked at a ski resort, and after the crowds left he would ride his trainer in the lodge for hours every night. “I suffered on the trainer watching TV and vowed I'd never spend another winter like this.”
He didn't either. The next couple winters he lived and trained in Maui; Owen made it over the 2nd time. It was far from glamorous; they lived in a shack with dirt floors and a tin roof that leaked.
They both worked for a bike tour company riding tours 3-4 hrs a day and also worked at a little cafe in town. Evan recalled, “We would basically ride our bikes for half the day and then work an eight hour shift in the cafe. I was a prep cook and Owen washed dishes.”
Since those early days they both made their way through the ranks in the U.S racing scene and have been racing on some good teams over the past few years. Owen now races for Hagens Berman, a team out of Seattle, WA. He has had some very good results over the past couple of years. Evan is racing for a team out of Northern California called RHVille.
They now spend their winters operating a training camp in Tucson AZ called The Cycling House and run the 53 x 11 Coffee Company.
Evan told me, “We care about the environment and the people around us. It shows up in our two companies. The coffee we provide is Organic and Fair Trade. It’s better for the environment and for you. We have also started a volunteer 53 x 11 clean up crew. It’s a new concept, but we are hoping to get teams and clubs involved to do volunteer clean up along their favorite rides.”
I am pretty impressed with these two young guys. They have found a way to pursue their passion of racing bikes. At the same time they provide a winter training house to help other riders, and help the environment.
They also manage to have some fun along the way, and for the rest of us they provide some good coffee. After sampling it I can assure you, it is really good coffee.
Once a cyclist, always a cyclist.
At heart anyway if not by active participation.
Eric Clapton, in his youth, rode a bike as well as played guitar; he even raced a little and rode a few time-trials.
The guitar became his number one passion and won out over the bicycle, but the bicycle keeps popping up now and then throughout his life and career. In his early days with Cream he made an album called Disraeli Gears.
The story goes that one day in the recording studio Eric was telling the other band members about his bike racing and his road bike. One of them asked, “Did it have those Disraeli gears?”
This was quite funny because what he really meant was derailleur gears. Benjamin Disraeli was a British prime minister in the 1800s during Queen Victoria’s reign. This is how, the now famous album, got its name.
I recently discovered Eric Clapton has a personal blog. He doesn’t write much, mostly posts pictures of his travels, and of objects that interest him.
Recently he posted a picture of a Unicanitor bicycle saddle along with pictures of some cowboy belt buckles. You would be hard pressed to find more dissimilar objects than these and no one but an ex-cyclist would find a bike saddle interesting enough to take a picture.
A search through the archives, unearthed a picture of a Cinelli badge, the kind they used to put on their steel handlebar stems. Also, a fixed gear Cinelli track bike.
I checked back through all the previous posts via the “Back” button to the very first one posted on November 17th, 2006. At the top, he wrote:
“Driven by insatiable passions, governed by the need to be free and independent.......these are some of the things that stop me in my tracks.”
This quote is followed by photos of two different Ferrari cars, and a Dodge Night Runner truck. The fourth picture is of a vintage Cinelli Special Corsa road bike that appears to be in new condition.
Just goes to show how the experience of riding a simple machine like a road bicycle, even briefly in one’s life, can become embedded in a person’s psyche, their subconscious, and it never leaves.
I recently heard from two people; each had a story of how they came across a Fuso bike under unusual circumstances and how they purchased those bikes at a bargain price.
Ed Arlt who lives in Northern California was telling a friend he was thinking of upgrading from his hybrid to a road bike. His friend told him of a neighbor of his, an older gentleman in his eighties, who wanted to give away his Fuso because he could no longer ride it.
Ed had never heard of a Fuso, but did an online search and within minutes knew he was on to something special.
He jumped in his truck, drove over and introduced himself to his friend’s neighbor. He was taken to the garage and there behind the lawnmower was a red Fuso in nearly new condition.
The owner told Ed he bought the frame from a Bay Area bike shop in the early 1990s and he hand picked all the other parts and had it built. He then rode it for a couple years until poor health caused it to sit for the last 10 years.
He wanted to give it to someone who would use it. Ed, to his credit, did not feel comfortable accepting such an offer, and paid the old gentleman $200 for it. Still a tremendous bargain.
The serial number on the frame is #100 which makes it even more interesting. It would have been built in 1984 the first year of production, but must have hung in the bike store until the early 1990s. The bike is pictured above.
The second story I received from Mark Worden who told me he came across a 30th Anniversary Fuso (1987) at a garage sale in Encinitas, CA. The owner told him it had been sitting in his garage for the past 18 years.
The frame was near pristine, but the components were slightly pitted, and the front derailleur clamp was broken. It had a $300 price tag on it, but after some wheeling and dealing, Mark came away with the bike for $75. The owner’s wife told her husband “Just get rid of it.”
Unfortunately, the frame was too small for Mark, but he passed his good fortune on to a friend of his who loves the bike. He wasn’t able to send me a picture, but told me he is now looking for a 58 – 59 Fuso and hopes he can repeat his good fortune. You never know he might just do that.
I built close to 3,000 Fuso frames from 1984 to 1993. Most were sold in Southern California. San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, and Los Angeles. A fair number also went to the San Francisco Bay Area. The rest in smaller numbers went to various parts of the US.
Where are these bikes now? I believe a lot of them, like these two examples, are sitting in garages unused. They are just waiting to be liberated, and I’m sure I will be hearing more stories like these in the years to come.