It was springtime 2014 and I decided to buy an old racing bike. Because I was reading a lot in my psychology books during that period, I decided to break the routine and started doing something completely different alongside my studies. In the meantime, I was also active in marketing communication. But despite a successful office, located at a beautiful spot in Groningen, I decided to change course after 15 years.
What I wanted was something that seemed really fun to me. Something I could put my creative mind into and that had to do with vintage cycling. I thought it would be a great challenge to see if you could achieve something beautiful with the right mindset and a healthy dose of perseverance. Something with which you could make a lasting contribution to a disposable society in which we live. The mixture of thoughts: sustainability, joy and vintage racing bikes was running through my mind for several days.
Sports as a passion
As a youngster I was always busy with sports but I was mainly interested in cycling. I found it really fascinating how those guys were able to cycle so many miles and restrain one mountain after the other… every day again.
My heart was mainly with the Tour de France. The entire entourage, hordes of people along the route, the beautiful television images, panoramic views and recognizable regions; magnificent! And last but not least the beautiful steel racing bikes they used. Even the longest stages were worth watching. And what it made really special: Mart Smeets together with Jean Nelissen as commentators. These men often sat in very hot commentary cabins at the finish line and could tell a lot about the riders, their backgrounds and performances. Unbelievable! And there was Theo Koomen of course; he reported the stages from the back of a motorcycle what he did for the radio program: “Radio Tour de France”.
Summer holidays to remember! It was the whole atmosphere and the heroism of the riders that apparently appealed to me and still appeals to me.
The start of the first project
One afternoon, when I was cycling home from the library, I came across an old rusty Puch racing bike (an Austrian brand, but I didn’t know that then). The bicycle was for sale at a social sciences teacher who wanted to get rid of it. Behind her house in a barn that was too damp, the door of which could barely open, there was a pile of rust in the corner. When we agreed on the price, she offered me a cup of tea with wonderful stories and experiences.
That afternoon I decided to get started with my vintage racing bike project. Armed with a flex, a few sheets of coarse and fine sandpaper and some basic tools I started. A nice challenge … and that was it! Sanding, filling and sanding again. Primer and sanding again and again. And the following days… the same recipe; repainting and sanding again. Just until it started to look like the ideal photo: a black vintage bicycle with lots of chrome and brown elements, but rebuilt as bare as possible.
The first steps went without major problems. Only a bit of muscle pain but the bike only got better. Until I started with the wheel set. These did not improve the result; the chrome was completely devoured by rust and did not seem to save anymore. After some research on the internet I came across a suitable donor bike with useful wheels. At least I thought so. In the meantime all parts were received: cables, chain, crankset and a nice set of tires that had to finish the whole project.
The next morning I wanted to start with full enthusiasm fitting the tires, it didn’t work out, whatever I tried, no result. But how? Fortunately, Google knew what to do. There were a huge number of different sizes and tire types. And yes, I had the not so common 27 inch wheels. And getting the right tires in a beautiful brown vintage color …. that was too difficult to get them. For a moment I thought “end off the project”. But after some research, I came across a German website that could deliver beautiful sets of light brown tires from Michelin with a black tread. I was completely happy.
A few days later I was able to successfully complete my project. Happy, proud and satisfied with all the effort.
From hobby to profession
I had learned a lot and especially done a lot. When it comes to cycling, a world had opened up for me that I didn’t know existed before. The internet is full of tips and tricks. And certain brands have neatly placed everything on the internet. Without the internet, the success of the project would have become a lot harder.
Meanwhile, 5 years later, I still make grateful use of this knowledge and the experience of recent years. They are the most important ingredients to make projects for clients successful. The right mindset, perseverance and striving for the best quality have turned a hobby into a profession.