BEGINNINGSIn 1994 I met the woman who would become my wife. She affected my life greatly (as you would expect), introducing me to the world of music (she is a pianist), Thai food (she is a connesieur) and, most importantly, cycling.
The following summer I owned my first bike since I was a child. It was a fully rigid Schwinn frame for a couple hundred dollars that I ‘test rode’ in the parking lot of the bike shop. It was black, shiny and had knobby tires. Sweet! I actually have very little memory of how it rode, because tragedy would soon strike.
MEMORY LANEIn those years my future wife and I were poor college students sharing a rust-colored 1979 Toyota Tercel. The bike saw most of its action tooling around campus or making its way to the Mexican restaurant just down the street.
The college is in a rural area far from the hills, but is also surrounded by farmland. We would take long winding rides down dusty lanes, past sugar beet fields and next to farmers riding threshers.
ROAD BIKE REVUE??The next summer, mostly ignorant of what dirt had to offer, I figured I was a roadie. The pavement was what I knew and what drew me. The long climbs, steep descents and easy surface. So it was time. 1996 I started seriously searching for my road bike. But, I was still young, still poor. A used bike seemed the course for me. I scoured the ads until I found one that was within my price range. After looking it over and taking it out for a few spins (at least I had learned to test ride) I thought it over and pulled the trigger! I was now the proud owner of … what exactly?
It had been described in the ad as a “Pogliagh”. The previous owner was the third (maybe fourth?) owner of the bike and it had definitely seen better days. The owner previous to him had fitted the bike for triathalon use, which meant aero bars and a decent saddle. Unfortunately, he had also decorated the bike in a strange lavender and white lace pattern with Harley Davidson decals. All over the place. Downtube, seatpost, headtube and steering column all had at least one Harley decal. It was like a motorcycle had gone on a bender and been parked next to the bike, just to get sick and puke all over it. Eh, but what did I care. It was a road bike and it rode like a dream! It also was my first experience with bike maintenance. I removed the silly bars, replaced them with standard road handles and moved the shifters to their natural downtube position.
The aforementioned tragedy would strike shortly after this purchase. My mountain bike was stolen. Still hard for me to talk about without tearing up. It was locked up on campus and someone took apart the bike rack. That’s right, the bike rack was held together with bolts and nuts. Someone came along with a screwdriver and pliers and with a few twists my bike was gone. So, I went out, researched and bought what is still my current mountain bike. In many ways, this killed my roadie experience. I was a more educated consumer and shortly my wife and I would move closer to the mountains and the trails. My time on this bike grew shorter until it was relegated to weekends only. Then every other weekend. Then once a month. Soon I had come to recognize the shortcomings of this bike as well and would eventually upgrade to a Ti road bike. And thus this was relegated to the ultimate disgrace. A trainer. I road this only in the winters when the roads and trails were iced out.
THE DARK TIMESThose were the dark days. Over the last few years I toyed with the idea of reclaiming this bike and making it road worthy again. It had been neglected for too long and deserved a rebirth. Plus, I had learned about more about it in the intervening years. Pogliagh was actually Pogliaghi, an Italian frame maker who became quite famous after WWII for excellent track and road frames. Neither I (nor the previous owner) had any idea of the history there. This bike was probably made in the mid 80’s, by the son of the founder. These were the last frames ever made under this name. It was time for rebirth.
SO WHAT TO DOI was torn. The two options for design were restoring the frame to an original design, with correct decals or doing a design of my own and having a completely unique bike. Some would consider doing anything other than a restoration a heresy, but I went with the second option. Also, it was the cool thing to do.
I took the bike apart. I stripped the paint. I designed and repainted the frame myself, with metal paint from the hardware store. I ran into issues, but all were overcome. I won’t bore you with the details since I’ve already pressed my luck. Let’s just say the project is over and I have what every trendy hipster drools over. An obscure Italian frame singlespeed road bike. The bike deserved it. Now, about those skinny jeans …