Okay, it's time to own up. I'm getting a frame from Chuck Lathe. It wasn't a very hard decision. I rode with Chuck a couple times, once on a permanent, once on a brevet. I like Chuck, and I like his bikes. And he's a local builder dedicated to making bikes for the sport I love. Randonneuring.
I got the green light from my beautiful wife Kelly, and Chuck and I began talking. I know a lot about what I want in a bike. Chuck is a good listener, and he's going to build me exactly what I'm after.
So far, the very best part of the process has been the test ride. I met Chuck last Saturday at Pittsboro General Store. He brought two of his bikes: a yellow one with a slightly steep "race" geometry, and a more relaxed randonneuring bike. Chuck and I are just about the same size. The only thing we had to change was the pedals, although in retrospect, I wish I'd raise the seat a bit.
We first headed south, down toward the dam for Jordan Lake. Kelly's brother is building a house down that way, and it seemed like a good destination. I rode the yellow bike for that portion of the ride. I liked the ride, but the seat position put me a bit forward on the bike. I could live with this bike, but it wasn't love at first ride.
But riding the other bike on the way back sold me. It felt right from the first pedal stroke. A comfortable fit, confident steering, and I liked the way the rear triangle reacted up the hills and out of the saddle. This was a bike I could spend all day on. And friends, that's the plan.
Over lunch at the General Store, the deal was done, and hands were shook. Chuck is now hard at work, although a few distractions have reared their heads. Like his new wood stove.
The devil, and the delight, is now in the details. But some preliminary decisions have been made about the interplay of wheels, fenders and brakes. It will have a compact double crank. The lugs have been settled on. In a nod to my prized Raleigh Intls, I'm getting cable stops on the top tube. Not sure yet about the stem/handlebar set-up. Will have the ability to use a front rack with lights.
Chuck sent me a couple pictures of the build under way. Here's one of them. (Chuck I hope it's okay to post.)
I've not yet settled on a color, but I'm leaning toward black. Persuade me otherwise.
As things move along, I'll keep you posted.
Hard to believe that in 35 years of riding, this will be my first custom bike. But it's my good fortune to have such a skilled builder in my backyard.