The “Barrie Project”

Posted: August 7, 2015 in Bike, Equipment, Motivation
Tags: ,

You may recall that my dad passed away a little over a year ago.  Although I did my best to deal with it and carry on, it crushed me.  I’m still dealing with these after effects today and it’s not uncommon for me to talk to him during long rides, runs, etc..  Not that he ever did any of this himself, mind you, but, hey, what else you going to do for hours at a time when you’re exhausted, alone and miles from home.

Years ago, when dinosaurs ruled the earth probably, my dad was given a road bike by his boss Luis.  It was a, then, state of the art Bianchi ‘Triathlon’ racing bike, circa 1984, in a gorgeous turquoise color.  Luis is a good guy obviously.

I don’t even think my dad (or I for that matter) knew what a ‘triathlon’ was.

At the time he also knew absolutely nothing about cycling and he used it as something to basically joy ride around the neighborhood on, usually with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth and long before helmets were ever in vogue.  He might have ridden it to and from work once or twice, but I’m sure it never really got a decent workout after Luis.

My brother used it once or twice while he was training for his own triathlon as part of the big ‘brother vs. brother’ triathlon quest six years ago and I think I may have even ridden it once when I needed something to get to work on.  In fact, I do remember – vividly.  Knowing fuck all about bikes and cycling I made the whole 20k or so trip in jeans and work boots and had to undo the rat traps that were once affixed to her pedals just so I could pedal the damn thing.  It sucked and I never got on it again.

Then it sat in the garage…for a long time.  In fact, it sat around collecting about 15 years of dust and grime.  And, believe me, there was a lot of dust and grime.

After my dad’s passing we had to deal with the gi-normous task of either bequeathing or getting rid of all that crap in the garage…including this bike.  Now, six years ago I would have taken one look at it and dismissed it as garbage and tossed her to the curb.  Now, well, being a little wiser about bikes and cycling, I see a bit more.  Now I saw an opportunity to salvage something of my father’s back to its former glory, the likes of which he probably never got a chance to see either.  At least for a long time anyway.

Here is what she looked like coming out of the garage last summer:

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Like I said:  there was lots of dust, grime and wear n’ tear.

Enter Kent.

Kent is a self proclaimed “Bike Philanthropist”, in that he loves bikes, people who ride bikes and, well, giving bikes to people.  I know a whole slew of people who are indebted to his generous nature when it comes to all things cycle-worthy.  Kent is also a nut, but the good kind of nut.  But, then again, aren’t all cyclists and triathletes?  In short, there was no one else to consider for this particular project and I gave Kent my proposal to restore my dad’s bike.

Thankfully, he accepted.

The rest of the story, really, is his.  The best part is that Kent – being the awesome guy he is – also provided a lot of detailed back story of the entire restoration process that I would never had gotten otherwise.

So from here I’m turning the story over to Kent for a bit.

“In the beginning she came to me; old, tired, sad…a faded image of her past glory.

But, like the Bionic Woman…we can rebuild her. Better, faster, prettier…but not without help.

Jason at ‘Dura Paints’ in Stoney Creek custom blended the paint. I took the fork in and left it with him for a few days. Absolute magic! A few aficionados have been unable to tell her new paint from factory 1984 original. While she was waiting on her new dress, she spent a little time at the strippers. Bill at ‘Total Coatings’ (also in the Creek) did his damndest to strip her right down.”

Just a quick pause here to ask: is anyone else here getting hot yet?

“Rather than use sand he decided to use glass though. Less harmful to the base metal and has a much finer spray pattern. The end result, well, you’ll see. She didn’t feel right being so naked so my go to guy, Rob, at ‘FTW Paintwork’ said he’d return her to glory. I didn’t want such a great paint job done and then slap stickers back on her (although I could have done it…eBay had an identical set up for sale). Rob was able to match both the color and font to the original decal and transferred it into the process. When you see her…she will be the only one of her kind. No decals…only paint.

Normally I make them put the FTW logo somewhere on the bike as sort of a hallmark to let others know it was through their excellence that it was all brought back to life. What they opted to do, instead, was greatly humbling. You’ll see. All the while I was looking for and working with every cleaner and polishing agent you can shake a stick at; 31 years of crud did not want to leave those parts willingly. The tape residue on the bars, well, a few specks of it will remain with them pretty much forever.

I promised to keep as much of her as you gave her to me as I possibly could. She will be sporting new bar tape, new cables, and new rubber. That’s it. Every other part on her was stripped down to its most original form and, where possible, polished to factory (or better) new. A few mechanical things required some outside assistance. I am capable of doing them but I think, sometimes, it’s better to leave SOME things in the hands of professionals. When I stripped her down I took her to ‘New Hope Bicycles’ on Main Street in Hamilton. I was met with ire to say the least. You’re going to do WHAT to this bicycle? I don’t think I want to remove the headset for you if you’re going to strip and repaint her. This color is classic. No worry guys…she will be this color again…promise. Skepticism was the order of the day.

I also promised to bring her back for her headset again when things were done. When I took her back there recently, every single wrench in the shop had to come and look. Diehards were in disbelief. I think I even saw one tear up. Due to timing I had to leave her there to finish her make over. They will be installing new cables, truing the wheels, and putting her tape on. I’m putting a lot of faith in their work but I think the donation of the pair of 9sp wheels I gave them was added motivation to do their best magic. The girl running the show said she figured they’d be arm wrestling to see who got to do the work on it.

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Back from the strippers…

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What you should note in the picture below is the gold color along the joints. That’s brass. She’s not welded together…she’s brazed. And she’s fucking gorgeous. I almost wanted to leave her naked for that reason alone. That is art right there. The skill it takes to do that kind of work well is something I dream of. The backwards diagonal tube (seat stay), if you look closely, is joined to the lug arm about an inch below the B. I saluted her at his point.

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This is also a lost art.

Normally a company will drill a hole in the frame and then rivet a nut in for the water bottle cages. Not so with this little gem. Again, brass brazed onto the frame…with sickening precision.

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The rear wheels drop outs. To a ‘Bike-o-phile’ this is nothing short of sexy. Again, all of the power you could ever lay down into the rear wheels held elegantly into place with brass.

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Witchcraft I say. 

 And as accurate as Bill was at stripping her down he made VERY sure to avoid the head tube badge at all costs. Finding one of these to replace it is akin to finding the Holy Grail. You’ll note the smallest hint of original paint on the edges of it. So no matter what all else happened to her, there will always be a teeny part of her original soul still with her.”

When it came time to actually meet Kent and see what he had been working on all this time I admit, I was nervous.  Not the kind of nervousness that one might feel while waiting for the proctologist to enter the room – and I’ve been there before, believe me (click HERE) – but more the excited kind of nervousness that I figure expecting fathers feel before they begin to pass out the cigars.

I knew it was going to be awesome…it was just a question of how much.

As it turns out, it was a whole load of awesome.  In fact, it brought a tear to my eye that I had hoped wouldn’t be noticed under my sunglasses, but Kelly don’t miss shit.  It looked like a completely new bike as if somebody had shoved a flux capacitor up my ass and I had been instantly transported back to 1984 when it first rolled off the line.

Don’t just take my word for it, check this out:

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And here’s the real piece de resistance (in case you missed it above):

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How freakin’ awesome is that?

I might just be tearing up again.

So now when I do ride her I really will  be riding with my dad.

Lord knows I’m not going to be doing an insane amount of mileage on her any time soon.  So far, my immediate plans are to ride 100k in the ‘La Bic Classica‘ charity ride next weekend for Strong Kids (a charity near and dear to my heart) in my dad’s memory and after that, it’ll be pretty much reserved for those special rides around the neighborhood with HRH, just like my dad would have done with me when I was that age.  I can’t think of a better way to honor his memory.

Thank you Kent for giving me back this opportunity.

Words will never express…

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Comments
  1. Kent says:

    Sometimes it’s not what you say that speaks volumes. Man those rims are shiny lol…ride her like you stole her.

  2. Ken says:

    It’s a kin to the Sunday afternoon cruiser. Enjoy her and all the talks with your dad.

  3. insolentcur says:

    Ride well my friend. Nice to know you’ll never ride that bike alone. Beautiful.

  4. Jan says:

    That was just precious!! It made me think back to when you first starting to train for Triathlons,the first bike you had, how “Daisy” became an essential part of your training and I watched as you learned and progressed while always reaching out to help others on the way.Your swim, bike and run times just got better and better. You trained harder and harder and the distances you traveled for events became longer and longer. You even encouraged the special ladies in your life to join in the commitment and fun. I love your sense of humour Terry and you are an excellent trainer.
    Now, you’ve just blown me away. You restore this bike to perfection as a beautiful memento of your Dad. He’ll be with you as your ride it. That brings me to tears.

    What beautiful love!
    Sincerely,
    Jan

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