Close×

A few weeks ago while I was reading some 1950's French cycling magazines my wife asked me when was I going to sort out a suitcase in the garage marked "bike stuff" that was beginning to disappear behind the spider populations web construction. Once the vacuum cleaner had rendered several spiders homeless I set to work but not before I had to use brute force and WD 40 to free up the locks, yes a vintage suitcase.

Lifting the lid was like opening a cave of treasure trove. On top was a clear plastic sleeve containing a start sheet from a Belgian cyclocross I had ridden at Oostkamp in 1972 and next to my name was hand written the number 43, as there were only 51 starters I guess it was my finishing position...one of my better rides in fact!

A Detto Pietro shoe box revealed 3 neatly folded used Clement tubulars. I last used tubulars in the early 1980's so these were nicely preserved but were they punctured and awaiting repair ( I used to repair my tubulars even the $10 ones ) or had I gone down the HP tyre path. Out of a brown paper bag came a very mouldy but unworn Detto Pietro left shoe, back in their day "Dettos' were the shoe of choice, all leather and Oh so comfortable. I was puzzled however as to what had happened to the right shoe. Out of a small cardboard tube slid about 20 spokes of many lengths and gauges from my wheel building period. I equate wheel building with knitting, nothing quite as pleasurable as riding your own built wheels but there again I have never knitted my own sweater!

A clear plastic bag contained a pair of rusted Christophe toe clips along with a pair of Binda leather toe straps that looked like they had lost a fight with a pit bull and why oh why had I kept them, maybe they were on the bike I finished 43rd on at Oostkamp! In their original plastic bag packaging were a pair of French T.A. metal shoe plates, that surely I have had for 50 years and somehow in my travels I had never managed to lose. These shoe plates turned every racing cyclist into a cobbler as they were nailed onto the shoe and has become another lost art. Now this is a mystery, another paper bag containing four left hand mitts in various states of decomposition. Yuk!

I always rode handlebar control shifters that were particularly harsh on right hand mitts but why on earth did I keep the left ones. Two rolls of white cloth bar tape. If you were wealthy you changed your white tape every time it became dirty, for me two rolls equalled two years of supply, but black cloth tape was never popular for some reason. Finally an orange Silca Impero frame pump... but why orange I wondered. They were the hand pump of choice for decades and were available in umpteen colours and lengths. Of course it all went back in the suitcase, except for the dead cockroach that no doubt died of 'sweaty mitt" poisoning.
PS if you have a right Detto Pietro art 7 shoe you now know where the left one is.