For Timothy, bike rides serve as bike expos as much as rides. Until February, Paula regarded this ongoing Study Of The Bicycle in a tolerant sort of way, nodding bemusedly and feigning some degree of interest. Her view changed dramatically when, at the end of the Chilly Hilly ride, she came upon Tim examining a piece of bike art stunning in both its simplicity and its detail. Paula started obsessively examining every detail of what she learned was a Hampsten Strada Bianca. It was LOVE. “I want one!!” she exclaimed. Tim did his own version of bemused tolerance.
Tim being Tim he immediately laid out a Quick History of Andy Hampsten, winner of the 1988 Giro d’Italia and the Alpe d’Huez stage of the 1992 Tour de France.
“Now I REALLY want one!!” Paula said. And then around the corner came the bike’s owner, who described the joy of working with Andy’s brother, Steve, on the design and execution of the bike. Everything top-notch. Everything personal and done to exacting detail and standards. And—a bonus—all based right here in Seattle, at Hampco Towers, AKA Steve’s garage. Which pretty much sealed the deal, not for the convenience (though the convenience was very nice) but for the whole Seattle Thing (complete with fenders of the highest quality.)
Back home, Paula beelined to Hampsten Cycles’ website. More perfection. She researched Andy. Ditto. She read up on Steve. Same. She checked out the reviews. Could it be any better?? (NO.)
Tim, continuing to be a bit entertained by this sudden fascination but certainly up for a trip to Hampco Towers, set up an appointment with Steve. He figured we were just going to get the lay of the land. He’s also much more deliberative than Paula, who knows what she wants when she sees it. That afternoon, much to Tim’s surprise, she put down a deposit.
Strada Bianca in lugged steel (Columbus Spirit). Outfitted with Shimano Dura-ace 11-speed mechanical components, with the exception of the Ultegra long cage rear derailleur which allows for a wider range of gears. Pistachio with red accents.
And this weekend, she rode it on its glorious debut on Vashon Island.
Paula’s first impression? In two words: Utter Joy. It fits perfectly and rides exquisitely. That incomparable experience of the bike and the rider joined together as one, total control, power, fluidity and grace, handling with ease the climbs and glorious descents and zipping along most merrily on the flats.
And, of course, it got rave reviews from the other riders. They were lusting. The very first comment: “Beautiful bike! What year is it?”—a perfect compliment for the intentionally old-school design.