Monday, December 15, 2008

Vitus - the bike

Before I retired I commuted by bicycle twenty miles a day. I rode every work day, excepting only the icy-snowy ones. Other bike commuters changed bikes infrequently, but I liked to keep a handful around, buying and selling in the second hand market, to keep things interesting. Now I ride shorter distances -- to the library, food store, post office -- and less frequently. There's much less reason now, if there ever was much reason, for me to keep more than one or two bikes handy. Still, I kept a half dozen of them ridable. And I kept one that I'd reduced to not much more than a frame by cannibalizing its components for other uses. And, oddly enough, I got it into my head to build up that frame back into a bike using old parts that I'd kept around. It's a Vitus 979 from about 1987 and it now looks like this:

{click to view full size}
This is my second Vitus, the first I actually bought new, back in 1978.

It's a famous bike. Top racers used it in the 80s. Men like Sean Kelly, one of the best cyclists of all time. Even when the team on which he rode was being sponsored by a different manufacturer, he'd have his Vitus repainted to make it appear to be what it was not. In the two following photos, however, he's on bikes that were made using Vitus tubing and are legit marques.

I suspect my respect for Kelly was a main reason I re-built the Vitus. I've been watching a DVD of the 1987 Tour de France while I jog on our tread mill. Torn ligaments in his shoulder forced him to withdraw from the race. The camera showed his agony as he tried to continue despite the pain and showed that he dropped out only when he could no longer hold onto the handlebar. An amazing man. As one site says of him:
Kelly was a complete rider who could sprint, time-trial and climb with the best, although he did have trouble in the heat and on the major climbs in the Tour de France.

Kelly was a rider’s rider, a professional’s professional. His record in the Tour de France of fifteen starts and twelve finishes attests to this.
Here's a view of a bike just like mine but for the brake cables, pedals, and color of saddle and bar tape.

1 comment:

GobberGo said...

She's a beaut!