Hi Dennis!

I (foolishly!) sold off my last beater fixed-gear several years ago, when I acquired an indoor parking space for my nice fixed-gear (No. 504, my Mercian Vincitore I submitted in 2003). Since then, on several occasions I've found myself wanting a funkier, looser ride for taking on vacation, or as a basis for mad scientist experiments in the basement, or just hopping on and zipping about.

Then this c.1972 Gitane Tour de France came along cheap. It's actually the THIRD TdF I've owned in the last 15 years, and like its predecessors, it is in the infamous club green. When I got, I looked at the tired chrome and chipped paint and its tattered decals and thought, "rattlecan black." Then I peeled off the decals, looked at how the paint had faded and worn in and thought, "wabi-sabi." So I got Testors model paint and a small brush and touched up the worst of the scars (at 20 feet they ALMOST pass!) and left well enough alone.

The Nitto stem, Stronglight 93 crankset with 113 track bottom bracket, and scarred Brooks B-17 were all parts that I've used on fixed-gears going back to 1998 or so - they were all on my old Falcon San Remo (No. 84, submitted in 2002). The Weinmann 500 calipers were a deal from the manager of Bikes and Boards, a great LBS here in Greenwood, SC. The front wheel is a Mavic GEL 280 laced to an unlabeled but unspeakably smooth sealed bearing hub, while the rear wheel is an eBay-score Iro fixed/free flipflop laced with salvaged Wheelsmith spokes to an older Campy rim; both wheels currently wearing recycled Panaracer tubulars that are on their third bike.

Russ Fitzgerald Greenwood SC USA