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.
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.
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.
Reality sets in to show you you’re not.
I was out riding on Tuesday, when an SUV coming in the opposite direction turned left on front of me. I had the wind behind me and was going at a pretty good lick; there was no time to react and I slammed straight into the side the vehicle.
My helmet took most of the impact but in spite of this, I have a hairline skull fracture. I have just spent two days with the mother of all headaches, vomiting most of the time. This morning I feel much better.
The prognosis is that I will make a full recovery. The most annoying part is that I have severe double vision, so bad I am typing this with one eye shut. Apparently, the nerve that controls the movement of one eye is damaged.
My bike is in bad shape too; it will not recover without some major surgery. I can’t show you pictures as the bike is at the police compound; I haven’t had time to pick it up yet.
The driver of the SUV was cited to appear in court for failure to yield.
Y’all stay safe out there; it’s getting to be a lot like Christmas, and people are driving crazy.
In the words of Rodney King after the LA riots in the early 1990s: “Can’t we all get along.”
When I took the post by a local Charleston blogger; (See my blog yesterday.) and posted it on bike forums, I was hoping for the response I got. His blog received over thirty comments, most of them pro cyclist. I wanted to show that cyclists are people not some anonymous sub species.
Most of the comments were intelligently written and to the Blogger’s credit, he posted them. There were a few he didn’t post that had hate comments like: “I hope you die,” or “I hope you get a cancer.” This was extremely unfortunate because the blogger’s wife happens to be a recent cancer survivor.
If some of the responses were juvenile, it is because many of the people who frequent online forums are juveniles. I am very sorry that happened.
After writing yesterday’s blog I went out for a ride. During the ride a woman driver passed me leaving inches to spare, this was particularly annoying because she had about five feet of space on the driver’s side between her and the next lane.
Now I am one of those people who have a very short fuse; I tend to blow up very quickly. I shook my fist at the woman; which was pointless because she was not looking in her rear view mirror, and was probably oblivious to the fact she had passed me so closely anyway.
If I blow up quickly then my other trait is that I get over it just as quick. I realized to shake my fist was a dumb thing to do. She didn’t see it but other car drivers did, and that did not create a good impression. I made myself a mental note to try not to do that in future. Road rage only brings on more road rage.
I am a road rider with a helmet and Lycra clothing (To set the record straight it’s Lycra not Spandex; let’s get our man made fibers correct.) I am in effect wearing a uniform, that of a professional cyclist.
Although strictly speaking I am not a professional, I am not paid to ride a bike; that is how others see me. If I want respect and if I don't want to be lumped together with every other turkey who rides a bicycle, then I must show respect and dignity.
I guess I’m starting my New Year Resolutions early this year.