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Every bike I own has a story, this particular one is quite special....

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Every bike I own has a story, this particular one is quite special....

Old 06-16-22, 02:51 PM
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motochick
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Every bike I own has a story, this particular one is quite special....

Every bike I own has a story, some are short and simple, some are not. This story starts 21 yrs ago when we moved to a small town in Northern AZ and I saw this bike for the very first time sitting on top of a Subaru. I immediately fell in love with it, I wanted it. It was orange with blue decals, it was like someone got into my head and crafted that bike just for me! To my surprise, that bike was sitting on top of that car in the same parking spot every time I drove or rode through the touristy mountain town right above us. I would say things like, there's my bike! I'm going to rescue you someday! You are beautiful and deserve to be kept in my living room. I pray someone doesn't steal you. Someday, I might steal you! LOL! The old guy that owned the bike did actually ride it, just about everyday. If not this one then one of the 20 other bikes he owned. I would always be a little sad when "my bike" wasn't on the car but came to enjoy seeing all of the other high quality steel bikes he owned. He owned one of touristy shops in the mountain town and would ride every morning then go to work, which is why the bikes would always be on top of his car all day.

Shortly after we moved here, he met my husband (Adam) out on a ride and invited him to join their ride group. Adam rode with them often and John (old guy) would ride the orange bike most of the time. One day John asked Adam if he wanted to take his tandem bike home so we could give it a try. I didn't want to give it a try! I liked riding my own bike and being in control. John didn't give up though and lent Adam a book about tandem riding and after reading it, I reluctantly agreed to give it a try. We took John's old yellow tandem out for a ride and I absolutely loved it! We were naturals at it, like we had been doing it our whole lives. Because of John's persistence, we are now avid tandem riders and we will forever be grateful to him for that.

In 2018 the car and the bike disappeared from its normal parking spot. John had gone for his usual morning ride, then felt "not well" later on. He laid down to take a nap with his wife by his side and passed peacefully in his sleep, he was 95 yrs old. It wasn't until earlier this year I found out what happened to all of his bikes. They were given to some very close friends of his who happened to own a bike shop in the area, and I knew them well. They would fix up his bikes one at a time and put them up for sale at the shop. I went to the shop and saw a few of them, but I didn't see "my bike". I asked the owner about it and he said it was in pretty bad shape and he hadn't got to it yet, it was still up in the attic. I told him I wanted to buy it and give me a heads up when he pulled it down. I couldn't get it out of my mind, so I went back two weeks later to see what they might want for the bike. I knew what it was and I may not be able to afford it, but I wanted to get an idea of what I was up against...for the future. I was talking to the wife and recounting my story of seeing the bike all the time and "talking to it" and how I wanted it to live indoors and be ridden and pampered by me. She went to ask her husband about the bike and he walked out of the shop without saying anything. The wife told me how he and John had ordered the Steelman bikes at the same time, his was blue with orange decals and Johns was orange with blue decals. They were color opposites. When I heard this, I knew I may never get to ride this bike, it would be too sentimental for them to let it go. Ten minutes later he walked into the shop with the bike. I was so excited to see it again, up close! It was pretty thrashed, covered in years of grime, sun faded, tires rotted or gone, mismatched components. I thought it was perfect. Then they did something I never expected, they just gave it to me! I lost it! They said John would have wanted it this way. I was overwhelmed with joy and emotions! After 21 years of loving this bike from afar, it was going to be mine.

I brought it home, immediately tore it down to the frame and began cleaning and polishing the sun faded powder coated frame. It was stunning. You could clearly see the way the sun beat on it everyday with more fading on the drive side. The once black stem and headset were faded in the same way, the top cap had turned from black to green! I want to ride this bike, a lot, so I needed to build it up to be comfortable for me. I used as many of John's parts as I could, even restoring the grimy headset. He had 2 different bar end shifters on the bike, the left side was Campy, the right side was Shimano. The bar end mounts on both were cracked and quite brittle but I wanted to use the shifters so I repurposed them to my Peugeot, the bike I use when I climbed the mountain. The Peugeot had Shimano bar end shifters on the down tube, so I put those on the orange bike. I converted the bike to 650b running 35mm tires for comfort. It now has a triple crank (I ride a lot of mountains) and an Ultegra 10sp rear derailleur, I was able to use his Sachs front derailleur. The bar tape was some old used stuff I had lying around because I want to make sure these bars will work for me, I have new blue stuff on order. The wheels I stole from the Peugeot until my new ones get here. (Pacenti 28 hole) This 1996 Steelman in Dedaccai Zero comes in at 20lbs as pictured. I have ridden it for a week now and it is an amazing bike, so comfortable and seems to climb effortlessly. Now I see why John rode this bike much more than all of the others combined. It was well worth the 21 year wait!

That bike story has ended but there are two more bikes that intertwine with this story. The first is a 1996 Torelli cyclocross bike. When I first went to the bike shop to see John's bikes, this one was on display and it caught my eye. I like old, lugged, high quality, steel bikes and this wasn't one I remember seeing hanging out on the top of John's car. It was found as a frame/fork in the pile of John's bike stuff. Close by was a Torelli wheel set that one can only assume was meant for this frame. The shop owner built up this bike with parts from John's stash and added any missing parts from his own vintage bike stash. (thank goodness the shop owner is a vintage bike enthusiast himself, his shop is part museum!) After figuring out what parts I needed to get the Steelman back on the road, I went to the shop to order what I needed and asked to see the Torelli up close. Just to see if I really needed it. I couldn't get it out of my mind since the first time I saw it, so it came home with me. I put a triple on it and I love riding it! It rides as beautifully as it looks. I was able to get in touch with Chairman Bill, the founder of Torelli and he told me they made less than 100 of these frames in a small artisan shop in northern Italy. The frame tubing is Columbus Brain with the fork being Oria tubing.

The second bike linked to this epic tale is a silver Steelman. While we, the shop owners, my husband and myself were talking about the Steelmans, they mentioned they had ordered a silver one for a customer but don't remember the year or who it was. After we left that bike shop, we went to another shop that was closer to us (that had just opened earlier this year) to pick up some tubes we had ordered. This area previously had no bike shop and we want to support the new guy to make sure his shop sticks around! While waiting, I looked around in the used bike area and guess what I saw? Yep, a silver Steelman. It was pretty thrashed. It had sat outside for a very long time and the sun had damaged the paint and made it look like cracked glass and the components were caked with years of grime. We asked the new shop owner what the deal was with this bike. He said a customer had acquired it from a guy and he never got around to riding it so it just sat. He gave it to the shop owner and told him to do with it what he liked. The shop owner didn't really have time to dedicate to restoring it so he sold it to us for a song. It is a tad smaller than the size my husband normally rides but we are gonna build it up and see how it goes. How crazy is it that this particular bike just falls into our lap like that? We took the frame to the other shop and they said that was it! The "other" Steelman they had ordered. We are also waiting for wheels for this build so it will be later in August until this one gets completed.

Here are many pictures to go along with my crazy long story. Enjoy!

TL;DR: An old guy died and I acquired some of his bikes




The '96 Steelman AKA the orange bike.

Lots of sun fading, yes those are Campy record brake-only levers. The insides for the shifting part are empty.

All of John's bikes have this sticker the bike shop had made. Our tandem also has one

The bike shop wife found this very old pic on her phone after I told her the story!

This is the day I brought it home

These are the bar end shifters now mounted on my Peugeot, yes I changed the right lever and removed the left rubber cover.

'96 Torelli cyclocross bike, beautiful craftsmanship

Unknown year Steelman

"Cracked" paint up close. It's a bit different than my orange one so possibly newer
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Old 06-16-22, 03:37 PM
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Great story. Lovely bicycles too. I do have to ask about the pedals on the Torelli. What are those?
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Old 06-16-22, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
Great story. Lovely bicycles too. I do have to ask about the pedals on the Torelli. What are those?
Thanks! The pedals are Pedaling Innovations Catalyst, we run them on every bike we ride!
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Old 06-16-22, 05:04 PM
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That is a great story! So glad you shared it with us!

In case anyone else is going through a similar process, don't forget that you can contact the framebuilder and get one made for yourself!
...assuming they haven't gone out of business, retired, etc. .....
While finally getting something after 20 years of lusting over it is a pretty incredible experience, it's also darned fun to work with a framebuilder and come up with your dream bike.

Steve in Peoria
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Old 06-16-22, 05:41 PM
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Great story, and a very cool bike indeed. I love anything with a stiletto fork.
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Old 06-16-22, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by motochick View Post
Then they did something I never expected, they just gave it to me! I lost it! They said John would have wanted it this way.
Not gonna lie, got a bit emotional at this point.
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Old 06-16-22, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by P!N20 View Post
Not gonna lie, got a bit emotional at this point.
Some intangibles are more valuable than money.
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Old 06-17-22, 12:21 AM
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I loved reading this story! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 06-17-22, 07:34 AM
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Wonderful story. You deserved that bike.
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Old 06-17-22, 08:07 AM
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This story was a great way to start the day. Thanks. 👍

I'm from PA, but spent quite a bit of time in Arizona. I'm probably gonna end up back there, the climate really suits my arthritis. 🙄😉
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Old 06-17-22, 08:49 AM
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Thanks for your account. Truly Serendipity in action. I have a Torelli Gran Sasso with a NorthWest setup from my Olympia WA days( fenders/generator lights, Brooks saddle), so really like your cyclocross Torelli. Don
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Old 06-17-22, 08:52 AM
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My Torelli...Oooops, needs the pic

My Olympia Torelli

ready for the Rainy Northwest

Last edited by ollo_ollo; 06-17-22 at 09:01 AM. Reason: add pic
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Old 06-17-22, 09:23 AM
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If not you, then who? Meant in a good way.
Things align. People create our stories; and we act in them.

I think he knew, and then the couple knew, and it was.
You are likely crafting someone else's story right now, or have, or will.

And so it goes. Well done by just being yourself.
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Old 06-17-22, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by P!N20 View Post
Not gonna lie, got a bit emotional at this point.
Yeah, not to proud to admit the same.
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Old 06-17-22, 12:17 PM
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Loved the story!! Beautiful bikes!
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Old 06-17-22, 12:34 PM
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Thank you for sharing this story with us, that was really well written and enjoyable to read. You have a flair for this...
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Old 06-17-22, 01:58 PM
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Neat story. Appreciate you sharing it here. You are obviously the person that bike was meant to be passed onto.
It does reinforce / confirm how my mindset is changing as I get older.
I want the pleasure of seeing my bikes go to 'good homes' of friends that I care about and remove the burden on my family to clear out that stuff when I am gone.
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Old 06-17-22, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by P!N20 View Post
Not gonna lie, got a bit emotional at this point.
As did I. At that exact point in the tale.
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Old 06-18-22, 09:07 AM
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Thank you all for the kind words. I have been riding the bike up the mountain quite a bit this last week, it was made for this. The first time I was alone and stopped at the shop and the parking spot, damn onions. Here is the bike next to the shop. This was best angle I could get because the sun was still coming up making for terrible lighting. The parking spot is up by the cone in the background.


The orange bike back at the shop
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Old 06-18-22, 10:01 AM
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My eyes are damp... Ty!
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