Finding the Gardin Special was actually quite interesting.  Through a fellow used bicycle seller, a guy who focuses on refurbishing and selling used mountain bicycles locally, I learned of another guy, who had lots of vintage road bicycles, hanging from trees, in his back yard.  Ya - right!  I have heard many versions of this same, "you won't believe it" story.  Needless to say, I didn't believe a word.  Only this time, it turned out to be true.  How I wish that I had taken pictures of the bicycle ridden (pardon the pun) forest.

My chum, the fellow who sells used Mountain bikes, and I took a drive up the Spruce River Road one day.  We were looking for the stash of "hanging from the trees" vintage bicycles that we had learned of.  As we approached a steep down grade on the gravel road, my friend advised that I slow down.  The bicycle stash was at the immediate bottom of the hill.

We couldn't pull the Ranger into the driveway, since it was already full of mini vans in one form of disrepair or another.  Passing along "Busted Van Row", we were treated to a glimpse of a vintage Norco here and an lonely all chrome Torpado there.  A pile of vintage road bike wheels, partially surrounded an old agitator style washing machine, silently greeted us as we delved further into the item filled, perhaps overflowing is the word, yard.

We went no further than the front door.  A couple of knocks and the owner appeared, cracked the door slightly and asked what we wanted.  I went into my spiel about vintage road bikes, indicating that we had heard of his bicycles.  The fellow peeking through the crack of the door offered a quick smile and immediately joined my chum and I outside.

Now it was Winter at the time, and there was plenty of snow on the ground.  True, it was a beautiful bright sunny day and quite warm but snow is snow.  And, as long as snow looks like snow it is still frozen.  The smiling owner of the property had joined us all right - in his bare feet!  I commented on this and he told me not to worry, suggesting that most body heat is lost through the head.  He had taken the time, I then noticed, to put a ball cap on.  Each to his own.

The bare foot guy, my chum and I rounded the corner of the old house and there was "Ali-Baba's" cave, or forest in this instance.  The story was true!  Ropes had been strung from Jack Pine to Jack Pine.  Vintage road bicycles hung by their handlebars from the ropes, like Christmas Tree ornaments.  First guesstimate would be that there were perhaps sixty or seventy bicycles hanging in tangled view.  Nishiki, Velo Sport, Bianchi, Benotto, Raleigh, Gardin, Dawes, Legnano, Carlton and the like.  There was just too much to take in at first glance.  Many lesser bicycles had simply been left leaning against the tree trunks.  It was a vintage Velo burial ground and I loved it!  I couldn't help but wonder what might still be hiding under the snow.  Or in one of the many dilapidated sheds?

Though I wished I could dive in and begin inspecting the hanging bicycles immediately, I acted the part of a good guest, following our host down a well snow packed foot path, to a run down old shed.  The door to the shed was half open and frozen that way in the ice.  Snow and ice were visible in the gloom of the shed's interior.  But there, near the back of the shed, still partly frozen into the sheet of ice, was the Gardin Special.  It was horribly obvious that Mother Nature's grip on the bicycle was firm and the Special was not going anywhere on that day.  The bicycle would have to wait for Spring thaw to be released from its icy prison.  That said, I could not help but express interest in acquiring it.  But the Spring thaw, as I was soon to learn, wasn't the only thing to hold up acquiring the Special.

I did take the time to examine the bicycle but could determine little in the frozen gloom and refrigerator like nature of the shed's interior.  Columbus tubing, full Campagnolo something or other was about as much information as I could glean.  Reluctantly, I cautiously backed away from the bicycle, being careful not to slip on the glare ice or trip over one of its other prisoners.

The three of us walked back up the foot path and I was allowed a closer look at the bicycles hanging from the Jack Pines.  For the most part, the bicycles were nothing special but there were a few that did catch my eye - a Carlton in excellent condition, a badly damaged Legnano with full but damaged Campagnolo Record grouppo, a Gardin TNT that I found out later had a badly dented frame and a Benotto Model 1600, in pretty original condition.  I entered into negotiations to purchase these four bicycles, plus the Gardin "Special" when Mother Nature saw fit to release ownership.

The owner of the bicycle is an eccentric but brilliant fellow whose feet must have been near frozen as we walked back towards the cluttered driveway.  His hands were stuffed into the pockets of his jeans, as he gave me his "preparing me for the price speech".  A speech that proved to be a bit unusual and went something like...

"I want you to think about what these bicycles are really worth to you.  Really think."  And he left it at that, with no intention of selling me the bicycles that day.  He did suggest that he wanted a van to go fishing in and would accept a certain kind, in even trade, for the covey of bicycles that I had indicated an interest in.  As the three of us headed to the Ranger, I was determined to find the van and make the deal.  On the way out, I commented on the Benotto that I noticed on the way in.  The bicycle man scooped it up and said I was welcome to it.  The others, in accordance with his suggestion, I needed to "really think about".  And I did...

A couple of months passed.  I viewed several vans, taking digital pictures of each and then trucking the pictures all the way up the Spruce River Road for delivery to Frozen Foot Fellow.  This picture delivery thing happened several times, until the perfect van presented itself and for free...

The Operations Superintendent of the Paper Recycling plant where I worked as a Millwright, upon learning of my interest in a van, offered me his old one free of charge.  He was even willing to deliver it for me.  What could be better?  I visited Mr. Frozen Feet and filled him in on the van's details.  For the first time since getting into this transaction, I noticed that he actually seemed interested in what I had to offer.

The van was delivered on a brutally cold early Spring day and I picked up all of the bicycles that were to be included in trade.  The badly bent Legnano and some of the components went to a friend in the Toronto, Ontario area.  The Carlton, a beautiful bicycle in its own right, was auctioned off on Ebay, the Gardin TNT frame set still sits in the Old Shed, completely stripped but still holding fast to the Campagnolo Aero seat post.  The Benotto was also auctioned on Ebay as a frame and fork set.  And the Gardin "Special" was refurbished with a full Campagnolo Super Record grouppo, that I just happened to have acquired over the years.