Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Visit to Le Cirque du Cyclisme XIV

Le Cirque du Cyclisime is an annual multi-day event devoted to steel framed racing and touring bikes from the late 1930s to the mid-1980s.  The 1930s are looked upon as the start of the classic bike period in as much as this time point saw the beginnings of the production of high quality bikes built from lightweight tubing such as the well known Schwinn Paramount.  But one might ask what's so magic about the mid-1980s as a cut off date?  Good question.  One answer is that Tullio Campagnolo, the inventor of many of the components we now take for granted such as the quick release skewer for wheel hubs, died in 1983 and that his passing is a good defining point as the end of the classical period for  hand-built bicycle construction.  After the mid-1980s bicycles moved away from hand-built lugged steel frames and increasing used aluminum, titanium and most recently carbon fiber in a more productionized environment that stresses output rather than craftsmanship.  Of course opinions are divided on this subject but, never the less, there is a large following of enthusiasts who collect and ride the high quality bikes from this era.  They meet annually for this combination bike show/swap meet and to exchange knowledge via seminars devoted to topics such as wheel building, the history of different brands of racing bicycles etc.  There are also group rides through the surrounding countryside for owners who have brought their bikes for display.  Your diarist still didn't have enough grip strength in his right hand to safely ride a bike,and so was content to go on the final day of this year's meet for the Sunday bike show and swap meet.  Let's breathe in Le Cirque's atmosphere.

The day featured temps in the 90s.  Knowledgeable vendors brought tents.  The display area for show bikes is under the big white tent in the background.

There were many bargain bits to haggle over.

These wood rimmed wheels caught your diarist's eye but at $400 were beyond his pocketbook.

Wood rim  maker's decal.  Why am I always drawn to life's high priced items?

Classic Rendezvous web site moderator Dale Brown was working the Cycles de Oro tent.  It was nice to match a face to a name.
Dale Brown

This interesting twin down tube Colnago frame could have been yours for $750.

Several vendors offered vintage wool jerseys.

Nice Mel Pinto handlebar bag on this Jack Taylor bike.

An interesting front fork on this old La France.

I couldn't figure out the make of this bike with the old lamp.  Note the Alex Singer bicycle behind it.  Tasty bikes for sale were stacked up like firewood.

Need a new pair of cycling shoes?  They had 'em priced to sell.

The same money could have bought you this set of wing nuts.

$300 was the asking price for the red Claud Butler frame. Luckily not my size.

Washington , DC based distributor Cycle-Monkey had Rohloff 14 speed hubs on display. 

I don't even want to think about pedaling this bike--look at those tires and imagine the rolling resistance!

I passed on many tempting items but finally succumbed to this pair of sufficiently scruffy Team Raleigh wheel covers bought for the lofty price of $10.  They will look good on the wheels of my ex-Gerri Knetemann Raleigh Team Professional.

There were many other things to drool over in the vendors area but I took several deep breaths and moved on to the display tent.  Unfortunately my camera was misbehaving in macro mode and so my detail photos of the many fine bikes on display are not all that good, but luckily for you many detail pix can be seen here and here.  What follows are a few of my pix that are worth a look.

This Schwinn Paramount is from 1938, the first year of Paramount production.

I liked the twin head lamps on this J.P. Weigle-built bike.

I believe this nice track frame is constructed from stainless steel.  There was no information next to the stand and I couldn't find the owner.

Gunnar, where have I heard this name before?

A nice Masi Gran Criterium..

The same individual had this very nice Colnago Super on display.

I was taken by this well presented Alex Singer.

Complete with cap--note the absence of panniers; he's ready to go credit card touring--my favorite kind as I'm not much of a camper.

Frame builder Isis Schiffer (works at Bilenky in Philadephia) kindly got this eye catching track bike down from their display so that I could get a decent shot.  She's one of a very few women frame builders in this country.

Another example of Peter Weigle's handiwork.

One of several Chris Kvale bikes on display.

Fork detailing on the Chris Kvale bike.

Towards the end of the day the "keepers of the flame" frame builders where encouraged to gather for a group shot.  I only recognize a few: right side of first row is Peter Weigle; left side of second row is Dale Brown and standing next to him is Isis Schiffer.  The biciak.blogspot.com site has a similar photo with almost complete identities of the folks present.

 The day was growing late and I needed to get home in time for supper.  So I gathered up my wheel covers and walked through the hotel lobby to the car park.  There in the lobby was one last surprise:  this Johnny Coast roadster fitted out for light touring.  I think the mid-50s aluminum bidons complete with their cork stoppers, are a nice departure from the ever present plastic drinking bottles found on most bikes.  Traditionally, they are hung from the handlebars.

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