Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder


I lived in a little town in New England for four years while in graduate school. Northampton, Mass has a population of about 30 thousand people, but with Smith College in the heart of town, and four other colleges near by including the University of Massachusetts Amherst only 45 minutes away by bicycle, we got a lot of big bands, big lectures, and great bars, cafes, and local culture. As a Southern Californian, I fell in love with the novelty of the small, bookish New England town in the late 1990s, and went everywhere by 3-speed. When I visit, I’m kind of heartbroken because Northampton is so far away. I know every corner of that town – it has a deep familiarity.

Northampton, Mass

My Protovelo was in my mother-in-law’s garage since April, when I left it up there in hopes of riding the SFR Russian River 200K – a trip I never made. So, there my bicycle sat while I rode the other bikes I’m lucky to own back at home. While the bike was away, I began to think of selling it, or at least painting it. This bike was one of the first raw-clear-powder-coats that came from Rivendell, and the early ones didn’t have the best rust protection. Living in San Diego, that’s not too big a problem except for the salty air here on the coast. There’s a small amount of surface rust that’s very slowly crawling up the fork ends. No big deal, and it will get paint soon, but its fun to enjoy the steely look a while longer.


I rode it on the Popularie, and took it out for a little two hour jaunt along Sunset Cliffs and Pt. Loma today. It feels quite nice to ride. Its bigger than my other bikes, at 60 c-c, with 175mm cranks and a long top tube at 60cm. With mountain gearing, its perfect for touring, but not the best for long, hard efforts. I like a 58×58 with a road set-up for that. But the differences in ride quality feel nice and the details are enjoyable, too. Navy blue, pea-sage green, maybe gun-metal paint soon…. But unlike that little New England town 3,000 miles away, the Protovelo now hangs again in my bedroom, ready to visit every day on a ride.

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5 comments

  1. Lovely Bicycle!

    It was difficult to pay attention to your story, because the bicycle is so fricking beautiful!! Is there any way to add another clear coat, with rust protection, rather than painting it an opaque colour?

    • Esteban

      I’ve read that one strategy is to use clear powder coat (like on my bike), and then ad a clear paint coat after that.

      I love this color scheme, and its held up very well. The powder flakes off at the fork ends, rather than scratching. If I did nothing, the bike would still be riding in 50 years. So, no rush.

      I like Rivs in nice colors, too. So, maybe a nice dark blue or green.

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