In Ireland our love for cycling’s history is shared passionately, but by few. So OldVelos recently went to Berlin to say hello to the cycling community there and to see what can be achieved when passion meets population. We visited two bike shops on our journey and while both pedal similar wares they couldn’t be more different in style – neither better than the other, just different.
We were truly looking forward to visiting Steel Vintage Bikes www.steel-vintage.com and reserved much time for viewing their exhibition of bikes for sale and bikes for bikes sake but, as is often the case, there was a gentle surprise in store. My brother in law needed a new headset for his 1983 Raleigh Road Ace and announced there was a nice little ‘fahrrad laden’ not far from the house – maybe we’d just pop in there.
There we met Luca, an English speaking Italian recently arrived from Holland, and his few bikes, frames and custom builds for sale at Tortuga Cycles www.tortugacycles.com. Sometimes, in life, less is more and while you don’t so much browse the shop but breathe it in the working atmosphere was decidedly pleasant, with the nod to style in the shop front and certain class in the workshop. Did he have many vintage headsets for sale? No. But what he did have was exactly what we wanted. Was he going to add on a vintage surplus for finding and fitting, hell no. All reasonable, all right. Sure he had some older bikes, some marques that have international history, but others that didn’t really need to leave Italy. Luca isn’t selling a lifestyle, he’s selling bikes. We swapped stories of cycling, favourite books to read and some tokens of respect – an OldVelos patch here, his bike shop logo there. As long as my sister and my brother live in Prenzluaerberg they are going to be well looked after by Luca.
After leaving Luca we took the tram to town. I was preparing myself, fast steadying myself, for what I knew was to come next at Steel Vintage Bikes, or SVB. Anyone over a certain age in Ireland will remember the advertisement for “Triple AAA – Golden maverick” and its tagline ‘because this is no time to take a gamble’. Well SVB sport their own triple AAA of Arne, Alex and André. Together they have created a space part coffee house, part museum, part palladium of well-polished “everything you ever wanted and might someday afford”. One wonders if the coffee shop is a gentle way of encouraging us to use serviettes before drooling all the way down to their polished floor. In fact everything is well polished: the ambience, the parts, the garments, their English and most definitely their bikes. I should have been frisked for credit cards on the way in.
But we came to Berlin with more than credit cards. A bit like a domestique sent up ahead in a break to assist their team leader in the latter part of a stage, OldVelos had sent forth a bottle of whiskey to SVB in advance, ready to be opened once required. So, our friends in SVB were providing the perfect stage for the international launch of ‘Trouble with the Youngest’, Brendan Hennessy’s reverie of vintage cycling. They took to their impromptu task willingly and poured much whiskey in response. What a pleasure for OldVelos to leave a signed copy in their care.
Filled with stories ranging from cycling in the 80’s, more recent miscellanies of escapades with OldVelos in Ireland and l’Eroica in Italy as well as fictional stories of bicycle racing where he rides so much better than in real life it has proven very popular with everybody who features in it! http://www.oldvelos.com/trouble-with-the-youngest-new-title-by-cycling-author-competitor-and-fanatic-brendan-hennessy/