For many years I rode my vintage road bicycles to and from work, piling up roughly four thousand miles a year.  One day, as I arrived home from work on my early eighties Cannondale Team Comp, I cast my eye upon a pile of scrap bike frames and components that I had put together the evening before.  The plan was a quick shower and then off to the "Dump", to discard the scrap parts.  I should add that I no longer dispose of bicycle parts at the "Dump".  These days, when I have a half ton truck load prepared, I take the stuff down to the metal scrap yard and sell it by the pound.  This is hardly a money making exercise but it does help clean up Mother Earth.  And that is part of what my recycling cycles is all about.  Anyway...

As I balanced the Cannondale with one hand and groped for my keys with the other, I couldn't help but take a second look.  Something seemed amiss.  Seeing nothing to increase my alarm, I went back to letting myself into the house and put the "what is it" feeling out of my mind.

Once cleaned up from my ride home, usually a pretty intense effort, I jumped in the truck and backed it up to the scrap pile in preparation for a "Dump" run.  Jumping out of the truck as I slipped on my work gloves, I couldn't help but notice a light blue frame set with no wheels leaning against the scrap pile.  That "feeling" returned...

At first I thought it might be one of the bicycles that I had parted out the evening before, but it wasn't.  It was a Carlton!  A Carlton with a Stronglight crank set.  A Carlton with Campagnolo Nouvo record brakes!  I would find out sometime later that a fellow bicycle collector had found the Carlton Professional at the "Dump" and dropped it off at my place while I was at work.  I do the same sort of thing for him when I find the kind of bicycle that he is interested in.  This symbiotic relationship works really well.

I looked the beautiful bicycle over carefully, marvelling at such things as the beautiful long pointed and chromed lugs.  The chromed Campagnolo drops drew my attention.  A Reynolds 531 tubing decal was still in place and reasonably legible.  Back and forth my eye flicked, linger here before jumping to there.  The bicycle was incredible.

Sadly, the bicycle had no wheels.  No problem about the wheel issue. I was interested and I was going to ride this bicycle as soon as I could!  Of course, I did have to clean up the pile of stuff in the yard and in doing so found what must have been one of the Carlton's wheels, also left by my friend.  The wheel was of sew-up design and sported a Campagnolo high flange Record front hub.  My excitement grew and I tucked the Carlton away in the Old Shed.  I still had to go to the "Dump" and one never knows what one will find there.   I zoomed to the "Dump" and back again.  I can't even remember if I found anything that day, but I probably did.  In those days it was rare that I would not find something worthwhile at the Landfill Site (fancy name for the "Dump").  Things have changed.  Anyway, back to the Carlton Professional...

Though the tubing decal was all but gone, it was still clear what the Carlton was made from.  Reynolds 531, tubes, stays and forks, the later of which blended less than perfectly into chromed Campagnolo drops.  The beautiful, and once again chrome plated, sloping fork crown completed a pretty nice frame package.  I was, however, a bit disappointed to see an assembly flaw or two.  I have read that to build frame sets in the Carlton factory, you had to be a pretty good frame builder.  Some of the evidence on the Pro, a top of the line Carlton, would be an example of such craftsmanship.

The workmanship on the rear drops were not all that it should have been.  Whoever built this bicycle, left a flaw or two.  Something one would not expect from the likes of Carlton.  After all Carlton in Worksop England was supposed to be among the best.  Top of the line Raleighs, the "Professional" and "International" were built there because the craftspeople were supposed to be so good.  I would have expected better from Carlton's top dog.

"As found", the transmission was most likely Campagnolo Record.  The rear derailleur for sure was the Record model, however; it did not work well at all.  The poor old shifter was worn out and I replaced it with a Nouvo Record model.  The front derailleur was original issue, I believe and would have been the match for the worn out Record one that I shelved.  The shifters, however, were something that proved to be quite special.

Campagnolo Barcons handled the shifting chores and did so all but perfectly.  I could not have been more impressed with a system.  I plan to install a set on another special bicycle that has found its way into my collection, a 1975 CCM Tour du Canada.

The brake set was most likely not original issue.  Original issue would likely have been a Weinmann system, however; the Carlton sported a Campy Record set of stoppers.  And they were in lovely condition.  Even the brake pads showed little wear.  The original hoods, however, were shot and replacement was a must.

And that was about it for finding the 1971 Carlton Professional.  I didn't find it.  It found me.  Since then, not one other truly high end vintage bicycle has been left waiting for me in the back yard.  Many bicycles have been found that were near equals to the Pro but I had to go to them.  Perhaps one day, another truly special bicycle will be waiting for me by the Old Shed - but I would be surprised!

But the point is, I had a really great bicycle sitting in front of me.  I couldn't wait to try it out and it was an absolutely beautiful day to do so.  Into the Old Shed I went, looking for what would fit...