Last Saturday we presented Blair with his renewed track bike as well as hosting the Lifecycle Christmas ride. It all started when Rod Stewart was having a look through Blair's old bikes and spotted a rusted frame with Legnano barely visible from years of neglect. Although the bike was 45+ years old and had seen better days, the hand-made steel frame was as tough as anything; it had endured a Commonwealth Games, three Stockwells and a bout of paint stripper. After seeing the bike in hibernation, Rod was ready to revive the Legnano for Blair's 60th birthday; however, he would need some help. So Rod set to work (sneakily behind the fox's back) on getting together the right people to bring the bike back to its former glory. He also took up a collection from all the regular group riders to help offset the considerable cost that was ahead.
The first problem that they encountered was trying to surreptitiously sneak it out of the shop. Luke - Blair's son who was also in on the shady restoration made up a back story about needing the bike for some work, this was enough to fool Blair and the first hurdle was overcome. The next step was the frame - with a few lacklustre paint jobs, many races and 40 years of rusting, the frame had seen better days. The duty of restoring the frame was put to Dennis Laing. Dennis is one of Blair's and the shop's very good friends, who is also coincidentally in the business of panel beating and painting, he was the perfect person to set the Legnano right again.
It took Luke and Dennis many hours to sand back the bike to ready it for a hand paint. However a simple colour job would not do the Legnano justice; Luke sourced the original decals that went with the bike to give it an authentic finish. Once the paint job and decals were on, the bike needed to go, it needed some wheels. Luke also had the job of sourcing these, he found some contemporary titanium wheels, to make the bike truly vintage. As well as the wheels other parts bought from all over the world included a Cinelli saddle, Campagnolo Cranks, and some 60's Japanese track bars.To complete and tune up the bike we called on an ex-Lifecycle Mechanic - Kimble Huch. Without his expertise and dedication we may not have had the bike in time. Luckily Kimble put in for the team and readied this epic beast for the big surprise.
Rod had to do a lot of administration work to do such as booking the velodrome and approving Blair to ride on the track. It included writing letters and various other tedious uninteresting things. So finally armed with a first-aid officer (just in case), two top class photographers and the Legnano to boot. We were almost ready.
A big thanks to Josie for transporting the bike and organising the bunch ride, which Blair didn't particularly like and was a little grumpy about as the time was changed to 6:00am. She also for found some Keo pedals, so Blair could zoom around the velodrome.
As the Lifecycle bunch gathered in the car park, there was a tangible excitement as they talked amongst themselves about who knew what about the bike and the ride. Luke gave some vague instructions as to where the ride was going and told them to that secrecy was of utmost importance. When the group arrived at the velodrome and Blair still had no idea as to what was happening, it wasn't until he saw his old Track bike that he knew what we had came here for. He mounted the steed and went for a sprint around the track and the bunch cheered him on. It was an amazing moment that brought back memories not only of the Legnano but for Blair as well. As he rode around the track everyone had goosebumps, even if they had never seen Blair ride track before, there was an inspiring awe that fell upon the Lifecycle Bunch.
After a few laps of the track some photos were taken to remember the day and Luke spoke on the background behind the history of the bike.
It was the bike that Blair had ridden when as a junior he rose to prominence including making the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1970. There in the semi final of the individual pursuit he met Danny Clark who claimed later that he lost the final because of the hard ride in the semi. Danny was going to come up for the reunion but was otherwise engaged.The bike restoration was a huge surprise and emotional time as so many memories flooded back. The effort that had gone into it was considerable and greatly appreciated. It will be put in a glass case and be on permanent display at Lifecycle.
The bunch then rode to Melange after Paula and Josie had taken many photos of the group which were reminiscent of primary school pictures. Big Tim supplied the orange juice and fruit mince tarts that fueled the Christmas ride. A big thanks to Luke, Dennis, Rod, Kimble, Josie and the rest of the staff at Lifecycle. And also especially to all who contributed to the restoration fun.