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Vol. 2, Issue 63 - May / June 2016

Posted: Monday 16th May 2016

Author: Peter Underwood

Our first big lightweight ride of 2016 was the Hampshire section’s Season Opener Ride held in the area between Chichester and Thorney Island. This event gets bigger every year and this time there were well over thirty really interesting classic lightweights to be ogled at in the pre-ride social time as well as at the lunch stop. Due to the large numbers the group was split into two and we had a trouble-free ride all the way to the lunch stop (and back) led by Bob Damper on his 1949 Gillott Spearpoint, with Sturmey Archer 4-speed FM hub and Cyclo 3-speed conversion.  Tastefully painted metallic bronze with dark green contrast. I suppose Bob should be known as ‘Mr hub/derailleur conversion man’ but I guess Bob rolls off the tongue easier.

I rode my 1956 Gillot Fleur de Lis on fixed and Patricia her 1948 Paris Tour de France with bi-laminated lugs and Simplex 5-speed gearing.

Last year for various reasons we missed a couple of these rides and it was great to see nearly all the old faces plus some new ones at this event which is always a good start to the year.

Our second ‘away’ event was Bob Johnson’s brilliant Surrey Hills Ride, held under the banner of his Club Cicli Artigianali, featuring the most amazing collection of classic Italian machines with some UK bikes, the opposite of the norm where UK builders outnumber a handful of Italians. You name the mouth-watering Italian bike of your dreams and it will be here. There were four Colnagos including an ‘Arabesque’; three Gios, including two ‘Super Records’ and a ‘Professional’; one Frejus, Bianchi ‘X4’, ‘Record’ and ‘Competizione’; a Pogliaghi ‘Ital Corse’; two beautiful Guerciotti ‘Records’; two Wilier ‘Triestina’; Cinelli ‘Model B’ and a ‘Super Corsa’; Ciocc SL; Cavaliere Corsa; Masi ‘Gran Criterium’; Bob’s own Ortelli ‘Special Corsa’; a Benotto and a Scapin.

Surely the best collection of classic Italians to be seen in the UK and all being ridden on the hills that they were designed for. Several had been built by the master of classic Italian builds himself – Bob the ride organiser. I can never work out where he sources all of the gorgeous pantographed components to adorn those rare Italian builds but they were everywhere you looked on the ride.

Just after the start of the ride we passed a small convoy of what I still call Lotus 7s – they were later Caterham 7s but may have moved on again. They must be the ultimate in the out-and-out sports car feel. As we entered Denbies Vineyard I realised that they were marshalling a fantastic display of Jaguar X120s but sadly we had no time to stop and enjoy as there was a serious hill to climb.

The vineyard has this fantastic car-free climb with views for miles and miles. The surface is smooth tarmac and the walkers on the road all moved to one side as we approached, I always think this section is the high point of the ride, even more so than the famous Box Hill, immortalised by being included in the road race for the 2012 Olympics and as a result resurfaced to a quality rarely seen on roads in the UK. I find that a good smooth road surface is worth an extra gear on steep hills and given a back wind as well I am in my personal seventh heaven.

When we lived in London and used to ride Box Hill some 20 years ago it seemed quite a crowd at the cafe if there were another dozen cyclists enjoying refreshments and the view. This year on a lovely sunny day there must have been at least 250 taking a well-earned rest and as one group left there was always another arriving. As I made my way up the hill steadily turning one of my five gears (in the smaller front ring) there was a steady stream of racers pedalling past, some just normal club riders but others serious racers making it look very easy.

Mike Baker comments on my piece in Lightweight News 62

Hello Peter, I was reading about the loss of your Cinelli Stem in the post, where I believe you said you only got some stamps back. Well, for lost items (you have a contract with Royal Mail and they have to take reasonable care of your property), the minimum compensation is a refund of your postage plus £20.00, rising above this figure depending on the class of postage. Royal Mail are extremely reluctant to deal, and will try to fob you off in the hope that you will go away, but I feel if you are persistent you will get part of the value of your stem back. I had a long protracted dispute when a Brooks B17 arrived with a shaved nose, which could only have been done in a post office machine, and eventually got compensation, not enough to buy a new saddle, but with a little tlc the damaged one was perfectly rideable!

Regarding the ridiculous prices asked by our American cousins for cycle parts, I did sell two excellent Cinelli steel stems to VCC Members recently for £ 30.00 each, having bought them rusty at a jumble, and re-chromed them via Mick Madgett’s excellent chromers. I still made a tiny profit, as I do not like making money from fellow cyclists. Two rusty Benelux rod front changers have been similarly re-chromed. I found an early Campag Record front changer at a jumble for £10.00 which has come up like new with the miracle MAAS metal polish. This cream not only restores hubs, rims, chainsets etc. like new, but protects them from fresh corrosion.

Bert Horner replied to my comments about rhubarb in Lightweight News 62:

Yes, we have rhubarb in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, North Italy. They say here that rhubarb harvested after July should not eaten, on the grounds that the sap in the sticks can cause damage to the kidneys? You live and learn! Good job I didn’t know that when I lived in the UK. Perhaps the Newcastle “hop tea” saved my kidneys?

Stop press news from Nick Tithecott (owner of H Lloyd Cycles)

“Please be advised that I have sold H Lloyd Cycles (!). For those who don’t know, Nick has supplied most of the decals/transfers for bike restorations in the UK for as long as I can remember. The new owner, Steve Ford, came and collected the whole business on Saturday and it has now relocated to Loughton in Essex.

Can I stress that Steve now has absolutely everything.  All my archive, collection of originals, files on each manufacturer, and artwork are now with him.  He also has the big (and very clever) printer and vinyl stocks.  This means that he is able to offer exactly the same service, to the same level of quality, off the same printer and using the same artwork as I have offered in the past.  He has possession of over 30 years work and I’m sure he will be echoing my passion for cycle transfers/decals.  Steve has a wide breadth of printing and artwork experience and an eye for detail and quality.

I’m sure that he will fulfil your needs in the future in the same way that I have in the past.  I trust that you will support him in maintaining the H Lloyd Cycles story for many years to come. After over 30 years of living and breathing transfers/decals it’s a really weird feeling! [New contact details can be found on the H Lloyd Cycles web site at]

There are several different ways to collect classic bikes: some people just collect but are not too interested in riding them, others collect and ride classics only, some ride all types of bikes, including moderns, and collect as well. I feel I come in the last category and have done all of the building and maintenance of both types over many years. Until a couple of years ago I managed to keep up with technical progress and was quite confident working on any machine that came my way.

I don’t know what happened then but I lost track of different types of bottom brackets, some were ‘external’ and others ‘push fit’ and I wouldn’t be confident fitting either. Then electronic gears came in and although I know the theory, especially of Shimano’s DI 2, I have never fitted or tuned one. I would like to be able to catch up but felt that I had missed the bus. That was however until I saw the magnificent volume, Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance (5th Edition) – The World’s Best-selling Bicycle Repair and Maintenance Guide, which has 465 pages of text with over 500 illustrations with clear and concise line drawings. Soon after delving into it I realised that here was someone with an in-depth knowledge of bike maintenance plus the ability to put it across in an easily understood manner. The pages of inter-make compatibility of different makes of gears and their 9, 10 and 11-speed mechanisms, cassettes and chains are a mini-bibles in themselves and give some indication of the author’s breadth of knowledge.

The book claims to cover new and old technology for all the bikes you ride but some of the information on older bikes is a little skimpy, suggesting for example that cotter-pin replacing entails buying a new one from your bike shop and re-fitting.

I don’t think I have ever replaced a cotter-pin without copious filing in stages to get a true fit. Having said that, most of our readers will be very familiar with maintaining older machines and will use this book as a very useful reference for post-L’Eroica rules machines.

The book is published by Velo Press and is distributed in this country by Cordee Ltd ( for the reasonable price of £19.19. It is also available from good bookshops of course.

Peter Bedingfield tells us about his team time-trial in Italy riding classic Carpenter machines with single-speed fixed.

Squadra ‘Cicli Leggeri Carpenter’

Fun in the Sun – with apologies to ‘The Italian Job’.

A madcap idea, really. My brother John (‘the Stayer’) and I both delight in restoring classic lightweights – then energetically ‘repatinating’ them. When I was shown a video of a very fast East Grinstead CC team in Michele Bartoli’s ‘Cronosquadre della Versilia’ TTT near Pisa we thought ‘Why not? We can get 4 of our bikes used in one go. 4 men, 4 bikes, 4 gears between us. Simple!’ Well, not so easy – a bit like Michael Caine’s Italian Job on bikes.

Google Translate was pressed into action but the organisers were doubtful. “Who are you?” “The Self-Preservation Society”. Misplaced humour.“Where are your UCI licences? Your medicals conforming to Italian Law? Your Montoye Step-Test results?” “Give up” advised British Cycling “We’ll eat our hats if they let you in”.

I emailed the organisers: “We have a clubmate living near you. He will explain where we’re coming from.” An instant reply: “You know Steve? OK, no problem, you are in”. Oh! Two more riders to recruit – Pete ‘Ironman’ Holley from the East Grinstead Tri Club, and my son Paul ‘the Whippet’ agreed. Forms to translate to English, step-tests and medicals to do, bikes to build up, flights to negotiate, rental van and AirBnB accommodation to book. Then this stretch of Italian coastline was devastated by gales so it all went back a year…. “Just getting to the start line will be a victory” mused Pete H.

First, a check out. A couple of runs over the NX15/10-mile time trial course near Peterborough sorted out our best running order, signals, gearing and some equipment niggles. We used Carpenter fixies, dated from 1936 through to ‘57. The two track bikes were given road bars and a front brake, the inch-pitch transmission was replaced. But it’s not about the bike, is it? I was doing some turbo sessions simulating my best (woeful) TTT effort. ‘Ironman’ Pete did a couple of 100k audaxes on his Higgins trike. ‘Stayer’ John added 30 hard minutes to his regular commute. ‘Whippet’ Paul hadn’t sat on a bike since October but promised to get out for a ride sometime. I got dropped twice but if we kept it smooth and tight everything pointed to a 50-55 minute jaunt for the 30.3k. With luck we might just escape last place.

I love it when a plan comes together. The team turned up from Munich, St. Neots, and Nottingham. Italy-based clubmate Steve did wonders at registration. Michele Bartoli’s lovely wife filled in copious forms and – relief! – issued us with Italian day-licences. Eat those hats, British Cycling! Ironman was feeling off-colour, the rest of us reckoned this was just the leveller we needed. “We only want you to blow the bloody doors off, Pete.” Off for a restless night’s sleep.

Squadra ‘Cicli Leggeri Carpenter' power away from the start

“In bocco al lupo” (‘In the jaws of the wolf’ = ‘Good luck’) grinned the guy from the team behind us with their skinsuits, pointy hats and carbon stealth-machines. “See you in 5 minutes. ZAPP!”. Final instructions. “Just remember this – in this country they drive on the wrong side of the road”. The announcer introduced us, something about “museo antico” (legs I think, not the bikes) then thoughtfully counted us down in English. Familiar red mist and we were off, bemused cheers and ‘Born to be Wild’ blasting out. Flat flat course, no wind, fast surface, warm enough. Fixie heaven! I tried to establish a sustainable tempo then Whippet Paul came through like a train. We settled down, strict 30 sec. turns at the front for me, a bit longer for the others, especially Ironman and Whippet. Around 35 km/h may sound laughable but it’s quicker than my evening 10 mile TT’s and no-one wanted to blow up. Our motorbike escort was being very patient, pointing out bumps in the road. After 7 mins we were caught for the first time. Brrrrm from their escort bike, ZAPP!

Squadra ‘Cicli Leggeri Carpenter’ lining up for the turn

Round the first turn, then back past the start. “Put on a good show lads”. The eventual winners shot by: ‘GS Baglini Central Chimica’ with a bleeping support car in hot pursuit- brrrrm ZAPP beep beep beep! Stayer, out of respect for his pre-war wooden rims (Thanks, Mick Madgett), picked a smooth path up the wrong side of the carriageway. Beep beep! Round the second turn, then the feeling we were probably slowing. ZAPP again. Still some in the tank so Ironman then Whippet stoked it up again over the run for home. Strava shows us hitting a princely 40 kph over the last two miles. 52:38. Not last! Woohoo, we easily beat the ‘Pink Girls’ and even got close to one of the 77 8-up squads. It all seems to have gone by in a flash – as did the other teams. We waited to see Steve Dennis lead East Grinstead’s ‘Brian Philips Tribute Team’ in. How the hell do you get round in 39:03? That’s seriously quick, 12 km/h quicker than us, quick enough for a podium place, 30 secs off an outright win. Hmmm, It would be interesting to see how they get on with fixed.

Hang on lads. I’ve got a great idea.

Squadra ‘Cicli Leggeri Carpenter’ and their bikes (with temporary modifications for the day) were:

John ‘Stayer’ Bedingfield 1936/7 Carpenter DP (Road/Track) #3115
Brooks B17 Flyweight saddle/ Constrictor Boa pedals, Chater-Lea chainset , Chater-Lea o-s bb. Constrictor Boa cane rims, riveted Airlite hubs
Temp: GB stem & Maes bars, GB Hiduminium brake.
Paul ‘Whippet’ Bedingfield 1948 Carpenter Super Clubman #4216
Brooks B37/ Chater-Lea chainset/ Reynolds Bailey bars, GB 531 stem, GB brake lever.
Temp: Lyotard MB pedals (for comfort) /700C Ghisallo cane rims on Airlite hubs. Campag GS callipers (for short reach)
Pete ‘Ironman’ Holley 1949 Carpenter Supalite Special #4296
Williams cranks, Bayliss-Wiley bottom-bracket, Conloy sprint rims on Harden hubs. Reynolds girder stem and Maes bars.
Temp: own clipless pedals, Brooks B17N (for comfort), TA chainring.
Pete ‘Plodder’ Bedingfield 1957 Carpenter Olympic Pursuit #5071
Brooks B17 Sprinter/Brampton B8 pedals, Williams cranks, TA ring , Bayliss-Wiley bottom bracket, Fiamme sprint rims 0n Airlite hubs
Temp: Stratalite bars, Scheeren girder stem, GB Courier brake (only from a desktop) or if that doesn’t work try:

Peter Bedingfield adds :

I understand the first editions of this event went round the old city of Pisa, but that closed the place down for the duration so they de-camped to Versilia/Forte di Marmi/Ventemiglia, about 20 miles north of Pisa. They close off a 10 mile stretch of the seafront esplanade which is dead straight and flat apart from two modest river bridges. There were 77 teams in the 8-up (so 616 riders) and 45 in the 4-up — so in total around 800 riders, about the same as the Tour of Cambs Crono. – but being teams they are done and dusted by midday then they all shoot off to a local school for a pasta party. It is, after all, Italy.

Wembley Skol International 6-day Cycle Race – 1967/68
For anyone interested in the history of Wembley 6-day racing I have a couple of programme/souvenir brochures which contain a wealth of information, both in the editorial and in the adverts. With the 1968 edition there is also a ticket application form and two tickets. I am not using these so would be willing to part to someone who collects information on these events. £10 plus postage. Peter Underwood.

For sale: Zeus large-flange track hubs 32/40 NIB identical to Campag including the track nuts. £120

Thanks for reading

Posted: Monday 16th May 2016

Author: Peter Underwood

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