Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Modele B

It was purchased in London, long ago enough so that the currency was still "pasayde," as the slang used to go...pounds, shillings, pence, in a second hand shop in Battersea, a long tube ride to what I thought was the edge of the city. It was ridden back to the Marble Arch area, seeming to find its own way through the oddly named streets and lanes of London proper, guarding me from the right hand drive traffic, its gears constantly slipping back to the highest, causing me to jerk unmercifully, straining on the smallest cog. And then it was parked and stowed away for three weeks in Paris, while I shepherded a group of teenagers through Florence and Greece, as it waited for me patiently in the Gare de l'Est of yore.
A Cinelli Modele B, serial #2698. It was a bargain at less than 30 pounds sterling, with a luggage carrier included, handlebar shifters (considered racy at the time), equipped exactly the way I had wanted it to be, despite being a secondhand rose...Campagnolo in the front, Simplex on the back, pale blue, the stuff that dreams are made of. The frame was a bit long for me, but I learned to adjust my sitting position to accommodate the extra length. The frame had, I believed, actually been built by Cinelli himself, in his workshop underneath the track in Milan. I rode it throughout the east coast, from Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard through the Amish country of Pennsylvania, periodically repairing and overhauling it depending on how and when I used it.
And then my kid sister gave me her Bianchi, with racing wheels, sexy pedals, etc., etc., and my beloved Cinelli languished in the basement...the Bianchi was a bit too small for me, but once again I learned to adjust, all the time not really loving it, but appreciating the difference between the sleek Bianchi and my gaspipe Cinelli. The racing tires became too much of a pain to deal with constantly, and so I just stopped riding.
This spring I made the effort to resurrect the love of my life, but my mechanic was kind yet firm in telling me that he would rather break my heart than my pocketbook, that I would need a second mortgage to bring my Big Blue back to life. And so the Cinelli has stayed in the basement, until this weekend, when I will put it out against a traffic sign, unchained, knowing that a local day laborer will claim it, do the best he can to make it operable, and be in possession of a means of conveyance to and from work, whether it be construction or farmwork.
And some day I'll see the Cinelli being ridden on the local roads, and know that it still lives. I'll buy another bike, a brand new bike, one that will serve me well.
But right now, I'm just a bit sad at the decision to let the Cinelli go, one of the few things in my life that predated Her, one of the things that stretched back to when I was young and carefree.


Anonymous said...

Your mechanic is way off base. Unless the bearings have rusted solid (not something one would expect from a cinelli/simplex/campy machine), What you'll need to think about replacing are tires, chain, and brake/shifter cables.

I have about 25 years experience racing and working in shops, I'll contact you via email.

Emma Kelly said...

Hi Swordfish,

What a poignant reminiscence! I really enjoyed it.


Mrs. Kelly's Playhouse