I’m pretty sure it’s a rule of the universe that cycling nerds can’t talk about old bikes without telling you about our own. I’ll be quick. Mine’s a 1973 Raleigh International that I rebuilt (rather amateurishly) from the frame up. The lugs are gorgeous. I had it painted gold, then asked a shop to cut the frame in half so my bike and I could travel the world together. That never happened, and now this vintage Frankenstein’s Monster sits in my basement.
Anyway, the bikes to be showcased on First Friday have had a lot more TLC than my Raleigh. In fact, the word on the street as that these wheels are road ready. “They’re not just bikes that he has sitting on a rack and polishes and keeps in this pristine condition,” says Missoula Bicycle Works owner Alex Gallego. “They are in pretty pristine condition, but he rides these bikes.”
That rider is Larry Lockwood, who after retiring has made a hobby of finding and restoring (and riding again) the kinds of bikes he rode in the 70s. "Missoula in the early 70s was pretty much a cycling hotbed," he says, before pulling out old photos of group rides. One of the bikes on display tonight is the same machine he's riding in the photos.
"I consider them to be works of art," he says.
Gallego decided to organize the show after realizing that Lockwood and another of his customers, Dirk Visser, had amassed impressive collections of bikes that date back to the 40s. Gallego starts reading the list to me: a couple Hetchens, a Claud Butler, a Porsche mountain bike, and a mid-80s Kestrel roadie with one of the first carbon frames around. Gallego remembers eyeing those Kestrels himself back when they were produced. “I was absolutely blown away,” he says. I imagine I will be, too.