From Zero to Hero: A Resurrection for L’Eroica
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you have learned all about our excursion for L’Eroica through the perspective of poor Andra, the Bicycle Widow. Here is my side of the story….
I first met Dave Moulton a few years ago through a convoluted set of coincidences. The CCDC (my office) was partnering on a lecture series on designing cities for better biking, and decided it might be fun to have a lecture on the design of bicycles. Someone mentioned they knew a retired guy in Summerville, SC (a suburb of Charleston) that used to build bikes; we managed to find him and he eagerly agreed to join the series. When we invited him we had no real idea of his stature and track record as one of the premier builders of custom race bikes in the 1970s and 80s. He gave a great talk full of wit, passion and precision, and he brought with him two exquisite bikes he had built when he was still in business.
He certainly made an impression on me, and within two months I managed to locate one of his best bikes–one of less than 216 made–available for sale in Seattle, WA, and soon after The Widow-Maker was mine.
Fast forward to spring of 2013; I had just learned that I had garnered one of the slots in the running of L’Eroica, and I was trying to decide what bike to take to do the ride (I have a couple…ok, more than a couple). In the midst of my protracted consideration of this question, a Dave Moulton-built Fuso bike popped up on eBay, and it was clearly the perfect candidate:
Yes, a frame that any sane person would say was ‘junk,’ having been driven into a garage with not quite enough clearance for the bike that was forgotten on the car’s roof rack….this was perfect for my scheme. It was cheap ($22.38 was my winning bid) and it gave me the perfect excuse to have a travel frame that had S&S Couplers installed that allowed the bike to be (intentionally) broken in two so that it could travel on airlines as a simple checked bag, with no horrendous $150-per-leg surcharge.
The Fuso model is not as rarified as Dave’s custom frames, but it is an excellent example of craftsmanship, a true “Keeper of the Flame.” To save this particular example, I engaged Bilenky Cycles in Philadelphia to apply their expertise to repairing and retrofitting this poor Fuso. I had also contacted Dave Moulton about getting a new set of decals for the Fuso. He not only offered a custom set of decals, but he generously offered to install them once I got the frame back. And lo, eight days before our scheduled departure for Italy, the Fuso was returned to me
and I promptly delivered it to Dave. Ironically enough, I had to depart for Philadelphia on a business trip. Once back from Philly, I had 48 hours to build up the frame with a full Campagnolo Super Record group, test drive it, and then break it apart and pack it up for the flight to Florence. All worked well, and the bike arrived relatively unscathed. After we checked into the Villa Sassolini in Moncioni, I unpacked the Fuso and built it back up and took it for a spin….in the rain and fog of Tuscany.
All was in good order and ready for the big race in Gaiole in Chianti. On October 6th, or just 130 days after having been saved from the scrap-heap, the newly-resurrected Fuso had its first real ride in the 75Km course of L’Eroica 2013. The bike and rider were up to the challenge, and both were overjoyed to be back in the saddle, navigating the steep climbs and harrowing descents, the silky pavement and the treacherous strada bianca. It was a blast!
I am very proud that the poor mangled Fuso that was destined for the dust heap is now a distinguished and well-traveled world conquerer. I hope Dave Moulton is pleased to see his life’s work appreciated and resurrected.
This is the last post of the series on L’Eroica 2013. To follow our experiences in Gaiole in Chianti, find previous posts here: Tales of a Bicycle Widow; Back in the Saddle Again; A Bloody Period in the History of L’Eroica; Bike Porn from L’Eroica; An Insider’s Guide to L’Eroica 2013. You can see more photos and videos on our L’Eroica Flickr page.