I really enjoy the beautiful weather we have here in Southern California. The population density and traffic can really get you down , but after a day like today , you realize why we are all here. I woke up early and went out to my bike stand that had my ItalVega mounted and decided it was a great day to visit the ocean . I live inland , about 18 miles from the ocean as the crow flys. If I go out to the edge of my deck in my back yard , I can just barely see the ocean . After checking the inflation on my tires and doing a crow’s nest look west I just knew it was going to be “one of those rides”. The air was cool , not cold , and crisp with exceptional clarity as I pedaled along. I noticed I wasn’t the only cyclist that shared this enthusiasm. We all had that look of joy as we crossed paths with a friendly nod and a smile. This will be the first longer ride on this bike but I wasn’t worried as I had already done a few miles and made my final adjustments . When I got to the Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center in Ventura I had a nice chat with some folks who were contemplating making the boat trip to Santa Cruz Island , of course I told them to go for it! I could’ve stayed at the beach all day , but I still needed to head back . After a last look I headed back and with a view of the Topa Topa mountain range I headed east and back home . I will log this day in my memory bank and feel grateful for such an opportunity !
I recently completed my rusty old ItalVega Gran Rally racing bike. It was quite a journey that challenged my best rust removal techniques. I think when you are working on something that takes many tedious hours of cleaning and scraping , you need to take breaks and not burn out. I started this bike several months ago and I just kept going back to it after leaving it alone for a week or so at a time. I knew it would be worth the trouble because these bikes have an awesome feel to them . This model has Columbus tubing and features nice Campagnolo dropouts and fork tips. The frame is chrome plated prior to paint and the lugs are left unpainted and polished . Also , the chain stays and fork ends are left chrome , giving the bike a nice set of “socks”. This gives the bike a classic look that was common on the higher end ten speeds of those days.
I then spent many hours removing the rust from the frame and polishing the alloy parts . I inspected inside the frame and it was rust free! Also, the bearings still had good grease and showed no abuse. I started getting excited when I realized that this bike was once well loved and cared for.
I decided to change some of the components as this bike had already been given some upgrades early on in its life. I went with Campagnolo record brakes and a 41 tooth Avocet small chain ring on the Super Record crank. I also changed the sew up wheels/ Tipo Campy hubs to Campy record high flange hubs laced to a nice set of Rigida clincher wheels with SS Stella spokes just to make the bike more “user friendly”. I also added the Superleggeri Campy pedals . I kept everything period correct. I am very happy with the finished bike. I like the light feel of this bike . I have done a couple of short around town rides and a 15 miler that went well. The ItalVega definitely belongs with the rest of the bikes I own and ride regularly !
I have been working off and on on this ItalVega Gran Rally that was pretty rusty and have decided that the original wheels will remain unused as they are really oxidized badly and although totally save able , I am not at this time ready for that kind of challenge and besides, these bikes came with sew ups which have to be glued on. I decided to set them aside and go on a quest to find a nice set of Campy High flange Record hubs laced to some nice period correct clincher rims. While browsing ebay I found a set of early rims that seemed to meet the criteria for my ItalVega. They were nice and appeared to be in great condition even had a set of tires mounted (described as “flat”) the description said clinchers . The opening bid was $29.72 and shipping was $107.00 or $33.00 for Fedex with a longer wait. I put my max bid at $100.00 and waited. At the closing of the auction it turns out that I was the only bidder! Sold for $29.72!!! After paying for them and opting for the $33.00 shipping via Fedex, I could hardly wait for the package to arrive. When it showed up at my front door I was like a 10 year old at Christmas time! I was a bit disappointed to find that these too were sew up type wheels , but , after what I paid wasn’t discouraged. I figured I could always lace them up to a set of Super Champions I have in the attic. I pumped up the tires just to see and actually , they looked like fine racing tires and the wheels are like they had never been mounted on a bike. As I started to clean the dust off of the wheels I noticed a Schwinn Approved sticker on each wheel and also noticed the rear wheel had a Regina Oro freewheel (worth almost what I paid for the whole set).
I got out my Mothers polish and went to work cleaning ,and ,without much effort , ended up with what appeared to be a set of almost new old stock wheels and tires. What was curious to me was the Schwinn stickers on the rims . Could these be take offs from an early racing Paramount? If so , I would be commiting a huge error by dismantling and relacing them. Whenever I have a question about my bikes I refer to Bike Forums for advice . There is always someone there that can answer practically any question I have had. After posting a few pictures , almost immediately , I got a reply ( thank you Pastor Bob). Yes , indeed these are take offs (meaning removed from bike soon after purchased new) from a 1974 P13-9 Paramount racing bike! And with the heavy duty spokes on the rear wheel and SILK Clement racing tires these are very special indeed. It would be a real shame to use them as these are time capsules . So until I find someone with the bike that these belong on , I will use them for display only on which ever bike I am not riding at the time. I have two other bikes with the same hubs and are laced up to clincher tires that are easily repaired and replaced when needed.
So, next year at the Eroica California event in Cambria I will look at the display bikes (always a few P13’s there) and see if I can find a swap for similar hubs laced to clinchers for use on my ItalVega. Until then the quest continues! Note, the last photo showing the hub is prior to cleaning
Sunday is usually my ride day in which I take a ride into Ventura from my home in Santa Paula . I ride through the citrus orchards early in the morning leaving my city behind me and enjoying the smell of the lemon trees that have graced these acres for more than a century. On this particular morning it was pretty foggy and damp so the aroma was somewhat enhanced and it was early so I was alone as I wheeled along on my 1973 Windsor Profesional. It has been a while since I rode this bike on my Sunday ride, lately I have been favoring the Super Mondia. It is nice to rotate these vintage steeds so I can appreciate the subtle differences in the bikes. As I left the orchards , I climbed up towards Foothill Rd. and made my turn west towards Ventura. The hills were dry with brush . It is amazing that these hills show little evidence of the Thomas Fire that ravaged this area not long ago. On the left as I head west is avacado farming and on the right dry brush. More avacados grace the land as I get closer to Ventura and fancy hillside homes become more prevelant.As you come into Ventura via Foothill Rd. , you get a great downhill slide that is exhillerating as you try to control your downhill speed . There are a few uphill climbs in between that are not too bad , so , it is mostly a free ride in . Nicely restored classic homes that are well loved on both sides of the street and a view of the Pacific Ocean with The Channel Islands coming into view as the fog dissipates. I turn left on Chestnut from Foothill Rd which has decided to change its name to Poli. Another steep downhill with both hands firmly gripping my brakes, as , at the bottom of the hill is Main Street and traffic. Also , at this intersection is a very small coffee bar with green umbrellas that doesn’t need any introduction as they are everywhere here in Southern California. I enjoy my Passion fruit iced tea as I feel the heat climbing and realize that it ain’t gonna get any cooler out!
Back on my bike, I head through downtown and make my way to Telegraph Rd. for my beeline back . I know from experience that it will get progressively warmer as I head east towards Santa Paula.Some of the fields that used to be in East Ventura along Telegraph Rd. are now gone being replaced by dense housing that has become all too comon in Ventura County. But , for now , the flower fields are still here in between the orchards . The sun is now beating down on my back and I realize I need to shed some of my early morning cool weather long sleeves that felt good an hour or so ago. I stop as I approach Santa Paula Street from Cummings Rd. and get rid of the layers.I get back on my bike with my Windsor Wool jersy being the only thing on my back , my thermal undershirt tied around my seatpost and my Nike safety orange outer shirt tied around my waist. I feel the coolness that wool gives you as the wind passes through the knit and the evaporative effect of the air passing over my skin. I guess those early racers knew a thing or two about comfort . I am now ready for my final leg of the ride. The smile on my face cannot be masked knowing that this day is a blessing and I have been able to enjoy another ride. I must now make the climb back up hospital hill to my house. Living on a hill is wonderful with panoramic views of the valley below , but it is brutal getting back home on a bicycle! The climb is not enough to wipe this smile off my face or erase the memory of another great ride.
Well I’ve been riding again for about three weeks after a pretty bad fall. I was at the Eroica California event in Paso Robles California enjoying my favorite ride when I did a stupid move and allowed my front wheel to get too close to the ledge of asphalt next to the shoulder of the road. All it took was a slight move of the handlebars and down I went. I was fully engaged in the ride and the fall was so fast that I had no time to brace for the impact. I hit face first and then ,of course, the other parts of me got the secondary road rash type injuries. Only traveling at about 12 miles per hour one would not expect the injury I sustained. My face was broken in 5 places (orbital bone, cheek bones) with loose pieces “floating” in my face. I also broke my left hand. Fortunately, I was wearing a helmet so no concussion or brain injury. The good news was that no surgery was required , just time to heal. I waited a good amount of time to allow for the bones to grow back together and now I’m back to riding. It has been very warm(HOT!) in Southern California so normally I would wait for cooler weather, but , I feel I’ve lost enough time and really need to get back “behind bars”. It has been glorious !! The old saying about absence making the heart grow fonder is true. Living here has spoiled me in that I ride pretty much year round with very little interruption so to take a couple of months off was brutal but necessary. When I ride now I am not only a bit more cautious , but , more appreciative of the journey. I have always enjoyed “the ride” but it seems as though I am viewing things in Technicolor! After riding these now “old school” racing bikes since the mid seventies I am enjoying the new appreciation that has sprouted up recently around these hand-made bikes. The ride truly reflects the build quality which I really don’t see in the disposable bikes that are more common now. I frequently get asked by younger people about my old bikes and their interest seems to be growing. I am not sure of how that affects my riding pleasure or not , but it certainly doesn’t hurt. What ever you ride, just get out and do it! Long ride , short ride , just do it. After 45+ years of cycling I can say that those times behind bars are some of the best times of my life. Taking a couple of months off has proven that to me, Ride on, Joe
I got the bike home and after close inspection saw that it is in fact a Gran Rally. It has a 6 digit serial # flanked by stars making it an early 1972. The seat post is a Zeus and the headset an Ofmega . This bike has been outside in Morro Bay California for more than a couple of seasons! I actually entertained selling it off in parts and using the profit for other bike projects. Well after a bit of tinkering and scraping/ cleaning I have decided to keep it as a bike and it WILL see the road again. I will take it apart and clean and grease it and, after all , patina is in right now! 3/13/18 The serial # *209747* flanked by 5 point stars. Does this mean 09(month) of ’72? I am going to next check date stamping on hub lock nuts.
Well, this one is a bit rough! It is on its way to me and should be here by next week. This will be my next project. From what I am told by my friends on Bikeforums , this is a keeper, it has a butted Columbus Tubes (x3) Frame and Campagnolo Dropouts .The fork ends are stamped ,I am being told. All around this is a very nice bike once it is cleaned up. It was made by the Torpado factory in Italy. It obviously has issues , but we’ll see how it turns out once it arrives. The price point was very good with lots of room for cables,tires and whatever else it may(will) need. Joe