Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 09:03:14 -0800 (PST)
From: Kent Peterson
Subject: The Seattle Bike Swap
I just gotta rave here. Yesterday was the annual bike swap meet in Seattle and it's really one of the hilights of my year. Some friends and I always have a table so we can get rid of stuff and also so we we can be sure of being in there before the main doors open at 9:00 AM. A few years ago I got my much loved and much ridden 1972 Peugeot PX-10 frame there for $45 but this year I really scored.
First off I got my 16 year old son a mint about 1982 vintage Raleigh, full Reynolds 531 frame, perfect midnight paintjob, decked out with a mix of Campy and Suntour parts for $290. He'd outgrown his old Nishiki and I'd told him we'd get him something good at the swap. The boy was thrilled.
The good karma I'd built-up circled around to me about five minutes later as I walked by a table where some guys had a bunch of frames. Surely it was beyond my budget but I had to ask "How much for that Merckx?" The paint-job was pretty dinged up and as the guy handed it over to me so I could measure it I saw that none of the dings had any rust and it was solid and true and just my size. A full Reynolds 753 frame with nice long chromed drop outs.
"$200," the guy said.
"How about $150," I said.
"Done," the guy said.
Part of me was going "damn, I should've started with a lower counter offer" but mostly I was just going "whoohoo!" inside. The frame had a headset and fork already installed and a few minutes of orbiting had netted me a Dura Ace bottom bracket ($10), a Campy seat post (another $10) and a Suntour Superbe fixed hub with a 16 tooth cog (again $10). I was damn near out of money when I circled back to our table to drop off my booty with my son Peter. The deal my pals and I had made would be that one of my two sons would always be manning our table so we'd be free to orbit the swap looking for bargains. Dirt Goddess Genny had bought my old Pinerello track frame for $100, so I was able to refuel my funds and head back out.
I made more little scores -- a $5 multi-tool, various brake levers at various prices and Alessandro wool jersey for $12, etc and one more major score -- a fixed rear wheel with a Bullseye sealed hub, a perfectly true Mavic rim and 32 tied & soldered spoke. I couldn't get the guy to go any lower than $50.
We stayed at the swap 'til nearly the closing time at 3:00 PM. My friend Mark picked up a decent road frame for some bargain price like $25 or $50. My friend Ken bought nothing but sold a ton of stuff. I wound up swapping something I had for some stuff Mark had brought to sell. I think Andy and Paul both managed to turn a profit for the day. I was happy to limit my net outgo to around $500. Some of my friends who don't know my wife Christine that well predicted my demise but when she dropped my son Eric off for his afternoon table duty she simply oohed and aahed over the Raleigh and the Merckx before adding "You know this means we're getting a new couch." I married very, very well.
Last night it all went together. Colored duct tape over the dings, swap meet and junk pile parts filling out the frame. A front wheel I'd picked up a couple of weeks ago here, some clipped and flipped bars there and finish the whole thing off with an old Brooks Pro saddle and custom coroplast fenders made from an old campaign sign and zip ties. Peter observed that "only the old man could take an Eddy Merckx frame and make it look like a piece of crap" while my lovely wife christened the bike. "You've just gotta call it 'Fast Eddy'" she said.
The pieces came together with mathematical certainty with the bottom bracket, frame and wheel laying out in a chainline as straight as a county line in Kansas. I got the bike completely done at 11:45 PM, after everyone else was in bed. Just one quick spin around the dark, quiet, rain-slicked roads of Issaquah. Yeah, this bike is Fast Eddy.
Keep 'em rolling folks,
Issaquah, WA USA