We recently drove through the east bay and I realized that I have not been in that neck of the woods in decades. I am known for my memory recall and let me tell you I had the most vivid flashback surface from my hippocampus while driving on I-880 which was accompanied with smell and taste. As with most 40 year olds who fell in love with road cycling in the early eighties, it all started with Winning 'Bicycle Racing Illustrated' Magazine.
I have no idea how he got his hands on them but Andrew Carroll had them all. When he gingerly opened the yellow clad issue and laid eyes on the Puch (made by Bianchi) advertisement he fell in love with this cream and red machine. This was more than a bike this was...absolute perfection. Like most "perfect" things (Aptos girls & Italian bicycles) to a 14 year old boy were absolutely unattainable.
Our unattainable desire for Italian Bicycles was about to change when an angel in the form of Micheal Gurga (Micheal's Pizza) descended into our life and offered us jobs for $4.15 an hour and all we had to do was show up hungry, eat, drink New York seltzers, and sling pizza for 4 hours.
Days tuned to weeks, weeks turned to months and the cash was starting to pile up in Andrew's shoe box like fallen leaves. His special issue of Winning was looking more and more weathered. He could tell you everything about that lugged Puch - the Athena groupo, the Ambrosia wheels, the Columbus tubing.
This was more than just a bike at this point in his life, it was a quest flanked by delayed gratification, desire, and a mom (Dorthy Carroll) who was willing to drive us in her old GMC truck to Oakland from rural Aptos to seal the deal on his dream.
I couldn't tell you the name of the bike shop or if it's still in business, but I can recall the smell of campy pig grease in the air and the squeaky wooden staircase that we climbed to the second story. I can only assume that Dorthy called ahead of time because right there in front of us was a 54cm lugged Puch with all the trimmings draped in sunlight. It wasn't like the end of the rainbow -it was the end of the rainbow. That shop could have had varsity girls swarming the place and we would have been oblivious.
On the drive home we told Dorthy to drive extra safe as his lugged beauty was riding solo back there. We spent most of the ride home (looking backwards) planning how I was going to get my hands on the lugged Bottechia at Hugh's shop (Spokesman, Cedar St.) I have a couple of credit cards now and have to use them from time to time, but I sure do miss the days (weeks & months) of delayed gratification because it is oh so sweet!