Another year, another essential visit to the Stalen Ros vintage market in Ghent. What struck me this year was, vintage cycling enthusiasm is a male-centric event. A clear 99.9% of those in attendance were male. Not kidding. The obsession with protecting the history physical of cycling remains a male dominated.
OK. Easy. Mostly joking.
Stalen Ros is the massive gathering of ancient and frayed, worn and protected in Belgium. I am talking about the cycling objects, not the visiting male. A mass of history on sale for enthusiasts or those attracted by the idiosyncrasies. I am drawn to it. I look at oil-powered lamps with amusement, and the five-speed rear blocks with fond remembrance. I used to ride, I used to race, on what people were giggling as they held a mere 5-speed block. My personal history has just joined the oil-fueled cycling lamps.
European vintage has a different scope to north America. There is Simplex and Zeus next to Campagnolo. Rubber-Sheared center-pull brakes. There small objet d’sport that were on the market for a blink in time before being relegated to obsolescence.
And mixed amongst them all are a handful of modern vendors offering their part. Wheels built by ex-pro team mechanic that are mind-glowingly beautiful.
I walked out with the a Cinelli poster, ancient cycling newspapers (there is a moan from females across the site sure these will just be clutter on the shelves), a t-shirt from LAST year’s Stalen Ros (they did not have my size last year, or this year, so a mere L will have to do).
But the greatest find was an artisanal frame builder, Weymans, based in Mechelin. He is more than willing to repair my broken Cyclops and replace the broken rear stay. And give it a new, modern paint job. It is thrilling for me because the Cyclops is a steel frame that has been in my life for over 40 years. Getting it back on the road for a couple of hundred Euros is a deal I cannot refuse.
And here is old-school vintage. I went looking on Instagram for image son Heymans bikes and could barely find one. It is just an old-school artist working on bikes, quietly and with this beautiful presentation.
Stalk Ros might have just kept one more vintage ride on the road. .. But that will be another post. Hopefully something filled with my absolute joy.