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Was meant to be - Reunited 19 years later with old No. 54

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Was meant to be - Reunited 19 years later with old No. 54

Old 12-05-12, 03:07 AM
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gyozadude
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Was meant to be - Reunited 19 years later with old No. 54

I just want to open this story up with a big Thank You! to the various owners whom I never knew. You folks took exceptional care of her for the last 2 decades, and I want to especially thank Howard on CraigsList in San Mateo, CA who posted the bike for sale. It was a strange chance that was so rare; I would never have found her again otherwise.




The summer of 1991 was an exceptional summer. I was at the top of my academic career, and at the age when men will make their greatest discoveries and give their greatest contributions to science. I experienced many lucid moments about the mysteries of Conservation of Mass, Momentum and Energy that governed all things in the Universe. Much of those lucid moments in the realm of science were only reached in a state while labouring on 2 wheels grinding slowly up hills of the East Bay, California hills as I rode back over from Berkeley to Orinda to Martinez and back to Concord, or roasting exquisitely in parching heat of the Livermore Valley as fierce head winds simulated the effects of being stuck in a convection oven.

The work got lots of recognition. It kept many people hired now on a bigger, grander phase with massive budgets and I decided to reward myself a little with a shopping spree. I got myself a nice new steel road bike to add to my stable of a dozen already. A fine Bridgestone RB-1 in green and white - the current year model at the time. A ride too nice to take to school really, so I had to buy another junker bike as well. A cheap Bridgestone MB-6 just for curb hopping on College Avenue dodging crazy drivers on the daily grind to school.

My source for most of my bikes was Iimura Hiroshi-sensei at Jitensha Studio just across from campus on Bancroft Ave. And I give Hiroshi the title "Sensei" because he truly taught me many things about bikes and I actually would dare to say he had some considerable influence on Grant Petersen at Bridgestone, who was constantly visiting that shop. I heard a rumour that as a young man or even teen, Hiroshi was whole or partly responsible for some of the bikes that won the 1964 Tokyo Olympics where they introduced the Keirin style track back races. How he came to the States and then established his humble shop, I never learned from him. I mainly remember his Bushido work ethic and love of bicycles.

At its height, my collection of Bridgestones was 15 bicycles. Some would think that was crazy and perhaps it was. But I did overcome my addiction for Bridgestones eventually. However, not before I decided that the year-old 1990 model MB-zip in Hiroshi's shop was getting lonely and needed an owner. It was my size and so I bought in in late 1991, after the RB-1 and MB-6.

I rode my Zip rarely, preferring to have rock chips to hit either my vintage 1986 MB-1, or maybe the 1987 MB-1 w/ drops, or maybe the 1988 MB-2. I also had a modified Bridgestone 400 which I brazed on canti-bosses and converted to a CX bike. It had these sweet retro large flange sanshin hubs and Mavic MA-2s. That too was fun to ride. But I mainly didn't ride my Zip because I just loved looking and dusting off my Zip and cleaning the chain, which was rarely ever dirty. The bike was labeled with serial number 0054 of 1000 that were "handmade."

At the time, Jitensha Studio was selling a custom bike frame under the "Shula" brand. Some of these were 650B bikes and that had their own cult like following in the day. And for a time, Hiroshi sponsored a local team that would ride in local criterium and road races under the Shula name. And that's how I got to bump into Robert Kurosawa (Pineapple Bob). Some of them would sport the "Shula" brand and help inside Jitensha Studio. I remember repainting my 400-CX modified frame and before the clear coat went on, I asked Hiroshi for some big Shula decals for the down tube. He gave me some length-wise ones a foot long, and a bunch of small ones. It made for an awesome looking bike. I think PB got a look at it once and from far away, it was pretty cool looking, and P.Bob was sort of a cross-fan when most American riders didn't know what cyclo-cross was.

The cult mentality got the better of me and so I took that small stack of Shula stickers and put them on quite a few of my Bridgestone bikes. It wasn't to mean anything, except sort of like a secret coded message that the bike was purchased at Jitensha Studio and only some of us would know that.

Nothing lasts forever, not even cycling in the US, so I thought, because in 1993, I graduated. No more degrees left. I got the big PhuD factor degree and now it was time to bug out and let other students take my place, which I had occupied for too long. I secured a nice researcher/visiting prof gig at Tokyo Tech in Heat Transfer/Fluid Mechanics under an outstanding professor, and jumped at the opportunity. It would be my first extended stay away from home doing this PostDoc and so in my haste, I had a fire sale. I liquidated all my bikes except for an RB-1 which I kept at my parents' home, and the MB-6 which I had modified with dirt drops and barcons years ago and I donated that to the lab guys for some of the Annapolis Naval Academy Ensigns and Lt.s' that were coming to Cal to get a Masters in Nuclear Thermal Hydraulics.

I debated whether to sell the MB-zip because it was so nice. But in the end, I placed an ad in the paper (there was no internet then yet) and met up with some guy outside of Etcheverry Hall on the Hearst Ave side, and took his substantial cash in exchange for the bike. This was in the Fall of 1993. Shortly after I sold that, I boarded a plane to Tokyo where I partied it up and lived a debaucherous life for part of my 2 yrs there.

Two years in Japan went by in a blur. Much happened. A life-changing cycling crash broke my leg and shredded all the ligaments in the ankle. I went to a Japanese hospital where the doctors made very apologetic sucking sounds as they pronounced that it would be unlikely I'd be walking normally ever again. Some frantic phone calls to United Airlines and less than 36 hrs after breaking my leg, I was on a flight back to the US to see an orthopedic surgeon - who had a bunch of SF 49'ers pictures on his wall. They fixed me up good and I was walking again after 3 months, but not perfectly. And commuting in Tokyo just wasn't fun anymore on the bus and trains. I tried a 60cc scooter for a while, and that got old too. I stayed for less than another year, and resigned and came back, put on lots of weight and drove around like a disabled punk for the next decade, wallowing in self-pity, with a dusty RB-1.

Some years after I got back to the US, I went to visit my Alma Mater, and in the old lab, it was still there. And inside, there was my old MB-6 still hanging there, with a thick coat of dust and a badly bent fork. Apparently, one of the Navy dudes had crashed it on College Avenue. Some lady cut out from a side street and he ran broadside into the car and went over. The ensign walked away with just bruises. But the bike had been toast since that day. I brought that back home, and in an effort to restore that bike, I bent the forks back and got back up on the saddle to test ride it. That made me test it riding to work the next day. And the restoration of that MB-6 was what got me back into cycling again. And that's when I remembered how I had sold the RB-2, the 450, 400, 550, the 700, the T700, the RB3, the MB1, MB1, MB2 and most regrettably, the MB-zip.

In rehabilitating the MB-6, I started to scour Craiglist and slowly bought more steel frame bikes. First a Bridgestone 600, then a couple of MB-3s and an MB-6. A CB-2. I got a couple of Bianchi's as well. Many of the bikes, I restored, updated, for example, to brifters from downtube shifters, and then gave them to family or friends. And with my son now in Boy Scouts and the whole troop doing a lot of cycling, I started helping source low-cost bikes for boys to work on and ride.

A number of years passed. I hadn't been in the market to buy anything, but I always check CL regularly. And then a few days ago, an MB-zip showed up in San Mateo on CL. And in the ad, the seller showed picture of the serial number and distinctive Shula sticker. Immediately I knew I had found my old MB-zip. After 19 years, we were re-united. I went to pick up the bike tonight and pay the seller. When I saw the rims, they were still the originals with these special safety-micro-prism reflective stickers on the insides of the rim which were the same as you'll find on a number of my bikes back in the day.

In a very humble way, I had to count my blessings. I had sold it and let it go. After 19 years, it returned to me and in very decent shape with all original parts. What had been mine long ago, was again mine now. I guess we were meant to be.
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Last edited by gyozadude; 12-05-12 at 03:20 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 12-05-12, 03:20 AM
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Italuminium
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Great story and awesome bike!
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Old 12-05-12, 04:39 AM
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jyl
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Wonderful story!!! Wiping away tears.

I remember that bike shop. I also remember an MB-Zip that hung in the shop, up on the (south?) wall. I don't know if that is yours, as I seem to recall that Zip was hanging there for a long time (many years) whereas it sounds like you bought yours in 1991. Maybe he had a second Zip hanging there?



I bought my Zip about a year after it was made. It, too, had been sitting in a bike shop unsold. I remember negotiating a discount for paying in cash, and going down to the shop with a bunch of bills in an envelope which made me nervous. I recall paying $850, or $1250; maybe $1250 was the list price, I dunno any more. It is #2254 and is the model year after yours. Grant Petersen made an appearance at a local bike shop this past summer. People brought bikes for him to sign. I couldn't be there but left two Bridgestones with the shop for the event, so my Zip is now signed by him. The bike was on commuter duty for years, wearing fenders and a rack. I'm thinking about restoring it to dirt duty, we don't have singletrack here but there are a couple of trails through Forest Park that are said to be pleasant. "Pleasant" is about my speed, I'm not a dirt daredevil any more.
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Old 12-05-12, 07:10 AM
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What a wonderful story. I strongly suspect it could only have happened in the Bay Area.

I suspect it is human nature to occasionally regret divesting ourselves of things we once owned with great pride; I tend to regret selling much of my old camera equipment. I'm slowly coming around to the realization that decisions made 'for cause' should never be second-guessed, and true regrets should never be confused with nostalgia.

I sold my Giant FCR-2 a few months ago to make room (physically and financially) for a Giant Defy Composite 2, and still find myself missing the older bike. I now finding myself looking around for a 'deal' on another one. Buying back the same bike someday would be way too much to hope for, but I would welcome the opportunity.
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Old 12-05-12, 07:36 AM
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God, what a great way to start my day by reading this story! Thanks, thanks, thanks for sharing it!
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Old 12-05-12, 07:41 AM
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This is good stuff. Thanks for sharing, and congratulations.
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Old 12-05-12, 10:05 AM
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Great story, great area, great bike.

Physics FTW!
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Old 12-05-12, 10:17 AM
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you are lucky but that luck seems to get brought by your love. congrats!
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Old 12-05-12, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Ancient Mariner View Post
What a wonderful story. I strongly suspect it could only have happened in the Bay Area.

I suspect it is human nature to occasionally regret divesting ourselves of things we once owned with great pride; I tend to regret selling much of my old camera equipment. I'm slowly coming around to the realization that decisions made 'for cause' should never be second-guessed, and true regrets should never be confused with nostalgia.

I sold my Giant FCR-2 a few months ago to make room (physically and financially) for a Giant Defy Composite 2, and still find myself missing the older bike. I now finding myself looking around for a 'deal' on another one. Buying back the same bike someday would be way too much to hope for, but I would welcome the opportunity.
I opened my garage this morning to let my kids eye this classic machine which is older than any of them. My daughter thought it was cool because of the re-unification aspect. Girls seem to understand the more emotional aspects of nostalgia or regret/loss. My son really liked the look and the incredible (lack of) heft. "Wow, Dad! This is steel? It's light!"

Then it struck me again. Looking around along the wall on my bike hooks and on the ground, there were mostly bikes that were all older than my kids. Even my son's bike, I picked up on CL for $45. It was an old classic CB-2 which I rebuilt about a year and a half ago. His odometer just turned over on 1200 miles. The meaning of VINTAGE is almost like an unending bottle of great wine. It keeps getting better with age, but it continues to deliver such taste and satisfaction with more consumption - never growing old and stale. I realized there is a responsibility in all this too - and that is to respect the steel a lot and take as good care of it while we ride it - maybe even ride it hard - but to take care of it for perhaps our own consumption or for the next owner. I'm glad that all the previous owners of No. 54 did respect that bike, whomever they were.
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Old 12-05-12, 11:38 AM
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Awesome story!!! It's great when these old loves find their way back.

Congratulations!!!
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Old 12-05-12, 12:29 PM
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Great story. You have the right forum for this, too.

A few more photos would be appropriate about now. Including a few oldies from back when. . .
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Old 12-05-12, 12:49 PM
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I just realized I'm really gonna have to sell some nice bikes, or there'll be nothing interesting to be reunited with in 19 years. But I don't want to sell my nice bikes. Now what? Dang!

I probably shouldn't be reading these threads to begin with.
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Old 12-05-12, 01:28 PM
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Awesome g'dude! You are one lucky dude to be reunited with your beloved MBzip after all those years!

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Old 12-05-12, 02:23 PM
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Congrats man! I love stories like this one.
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