Love at First Bike at Le Cirque du Cyclisme

Felkerino and I capped off our weekend with a trip to Le Cirque du Cyclisme, a vintage and handbuilt bike show in Leesburg, Virginia. The show featured bikes throughout the decades, from steeds made in the 1940s to modern handmade steel frames.

I perused the frames as though I was at an art exhibit. See bike. Stop. Pause. Absorb. Repeat. A variety of pretty pieces that caught my eye.

One bike, though, stopped me in my tracks as I drifted through the exhibit area. I don’t know how it happened. One minute I was looking at a Stanridge adorned with Swift Industries panniers and the next I found myself standing completely transfixed, in front of this bike. THE bike.

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The bike, a Rick Jones, had been painted in two colors, a pearly light lavender contrast with a darker shade that fell just shy of purple. Its tubing was sleek. The lugs integrated seamlessly into the rest of the bike. In looking at the bike, I sensed that it had been made with great care. I was mesmerized by the way the seat stays extended from the top tube toward the rear of the bike.

The divine sted stood apart from all the others in the room. My encounter was like one of those moments you see in a movie, where a spotlight shines down on THE ONE THING that you know is meant for you, and the Hallelujah Choris can be heard in the background. In my mind, I saw myself on this bike, and it was perfect.

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As I stood bewildered by the bike’s beauty, the builder came over and introduced himself. Rick Jones from Long Island. I enthusiastically expressed how much I liked his bike and asked Felkerino if he would take my picture with him. In five minutes, I had become a Rick Jones groupie.

I learned from talking with Rick and from his website that he grew up around bikes, runs a bike shop in New York, and has been building bikes for a few years. You can read more of his story at www.RickJonesBicycles.com.

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Rick’s bike aesthetic suited me. I like bikes that are fine, but not precious. I want to get my bike dirty without thinking that I’ve compromised it somehow. I also want to own a bike that I consider attractive.

My visceral response to this bike took me by surprise. I have generally pooh-poohed those who want a bike made by a custom builder. Why would you go custom if you can get the overall size, feel, and look you want from a stock frame? Why does it matter who cut the tubes for your bike and then turned it into a bicycle, as long as your bike fits you and meets your cycling intentions?

After seeing Rick Jones’s bikes I had a change of heart. Being able to connect a bike back to the person who crafted it gives the bike a unique history and feel.  There is an incomparable pride of ownership in that.

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Second, bike love is not rational. Yes, you could make do with another and you would have a good life together. But a part of you will always wonder how it would have worked out if you could have been with that one bike.

All photos courtesy of Felkerino. Find the full set from Cirque on his flickr page.

8 thoughts on “Love at First Bike at Le Cirque du Cyclisme”

  1. Not sure whether or not the bike went home with you. A couple of years ago a friend of mine had the exact same heart-stopping experience at Cirque. That bike went home with him! (Even though he has/had 11 bikes.) And he totally enjoys the bike. (And I seem to recall that he made up some story for his wife about plans to sell other bikes in the fleet……)

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  2. I resisted due to various reasons, the main one being that I just built up the Rawland, but we’ll see what transpires. Darn bike love! <3

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  3. For me, the adventure was in the workshops. To have Earle Young spend 90 minutes- one on one- showing me the finer points of wheelbuilding in his room couldn’t have been bought at any price ….and it was Free!!
    To room with Harvey Sachs (the guru of freewheels) was icing on the cake and to talk mechanics with some of the builders (the young fella with the DI2 campy shift setup on his vintage ride that was powered by a dynohub and diode /resister setup he’d fashioned blew me away)
    Had I ONE bike to lust after it would have been the Chris Bishop road bike with the fine lugwork..Simplistic yet stunning.
    I guess I had to feel a bit of pride when people did a ‘really?!’ comeback to my telling them the red flecked blue paintjob on the Paramount PDG was original,that the bike was 23 years old and had well over 40K worth of riding miles on it.:o)
    Rich M

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  4. Excellent and moving essay. Completely enjoyed it and could empathize with your reaction to the bike.

    Makes me really sad to have missed this year’s Cirque but thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to enjoy this teeny morsel.
    Sent via phone

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