Last Saturday I attended the inagural Velo Cosmos event put on in Grass Valley, CA. There were a bunch of historic bikes from collectors and custom bikes from a handful of Northern California framebuilders, local artwork & photographs, and copies of the Jobst “Ride Bike!” book available for purchase from Tom Ritchey himself. In the parking lot was a small bike swap with a wide assortment of parts and accessories and both Saturday and Sunday mornings a group bike ride left from town and toured the local roads and trails.
I was one of just two framebuilders displaying a few bikes – Brad of W.H. Bradford was my neighbor on the patio with both of us showing 3 bikes outside and 1 entered into the “Concours.” There were quite a few cameos, Tom Ritchey was the most prominent, signing copies of the Jobst book and seemingly talking to most everyone at the event. Like a movie star, i imagine it’s hard to be Tom, a legend of the bike world and so recognizable. Even though I’d love to have gotten to know him and chatted about bikes and his history of riding and building, I didn’t want to add to it all. I’m not good at small talk, especially when i’m the one approaching a legend like Tom, but I finally mustered up the guts to ask him if my Diamond M-20 milling machine was, in fact, his old milling machine – something the seller claimed at the time of purchase but I never could verify. It was pretty cool when Tom zoomed in on my iphone photo of the mill and said, “Yep! That was my first mill, i put in that new motor.” …and that was pretty much the extent of conversation. I walked away happy to know the lil 500lb hunk of iron in my shop used to cut tubes for some of the first Ritchey frames!
Below are some of the photos i took of the bikes at the show. It’s obvious my preference for mountain bikes and klunkers but I also took some photos of the road entries. I have never been witness to such a diversity in style or time period of bikes so I spent a bunch of time checking them out and looking at the little things that make each one unique. I had some favorites but it if I had to pick just one it would be the Pro Cruiser from the Cove bike shop. That’s where I got my first bike but it’s also an iconic early MTB and simply timeless.
The funnest part about all of these bikes is their stories. Like my milling machine, we’re just “foster parents” of these things. They change hands over the years but their origin story remains the same and contributes to the history that we all love of cycling.