The guys at a couple of the local bicycle shops are really good to me, frequently offering leads as to where I might find a vintage road bicycle or two.  One of the owners of a Local Bike Shop (LBS) called me at work one day and told me that a guy had offered three old "Ten Speeds" as part of a trade-in in an effort to purchase a new mountain bicycle.

The bike shop rarely accepts old "Ten Speed" bicycles simply because they are all but impossible to sell in my area, or at least they used to be hard to sell.  We all know now that that is changing.  Anyway, I jotted down the information offered and called the seller right away.

Yes, he did have three bicycles and, as it turned out, my Peugeot Super Sport and I had ridden right past his house hundreds of times on our way home from work.  The owner of the three bicycles said that it would be OK for me to stop by and view the bicycles on my way home that day.

It was windy when I left the Paper Mill and started "the wind with me journey" to see the bicycles.  Needless to say, with the wind at my back, I quickly reached my destination which happened to be a nice enough three bedroom bungalow, probably with a finished basement and a beautifully kept yard.  I knocked on the front door and was soon greeted by a fellow who was at least two inches taller than me.  Great!  Another bicycle or three that would be too big...

The owner of the bikes, let's call him Mike because that is his name, invited me to follow him around to the back yard.  As I rounded the corner, my eyes must have grown quite wide.  There sat a gorgeous Basso Gap, an equally nice (except for one scratch) Motobecane Grand Record and a mint, and in this case I do mean mint, Velo Sport Prestige.  In a glance I knew immediately that the Motobecane was too big and the Velo Sport was too small but the Basso Gap was just right.  This is starting to sound like the Three Bears story.

All three bicycles were leaning against the well maintained wood fence, displaying their vintage glory in the bright sunlight and looking pretty darn good doing so.  Mike and I went over and he filled me in on each bicycle's virtues and history.  He was selling all three because he wanted to buy himself a new mountain bicycle.  Interesting enough, I guess, but I really wasn't listening all that closely to what he was saying.  I just wanted all three bicycles, the Basso in particular.

Without going into the long and short of "How Much" and after a short negotiation, the three bicycles soon became mine.  Mike had to check with his wife to ensure that my offer for all three was acceptable.  When Mike returned from his conference with Mrs. Mike, he said my offer was acceptable and he offered me a cardboard box containing vintage road bicycle paraphernalia.  Included in the box of bits was; a Campagnolo Bottom Bracket wrench, a Campagnolo Crank Arm Puller, two cans of Campagnolo grease (one can was unopened and I still have it tucked away), some other odds and ends, including a NOS French threaded Campagnolo Record Bottom Bracket, still in its original box.  A nice little something extra for my trouble.

The price asked for all three bicycles was considerable and I offered less than half for all three.  And less than half was still a good deal more than I usually carry in my pocket.  I would have to go to the Credit Union and get some cash.  True, I could have gone to a cash machine a couple of blocks away but I prefer to do my bicycle thing through one bank account.  The problem is I had to ride back into the heavy wind, to get the cash.  I peeked at the time on my cell phone, explained my intention and promised a quick return.  Ya, right!

The wind was pretty brutal and I pumped for all I was worth.  Remember, I got off work at four and the Credit Union closes as five.  It was Friday afternoon and if I didn't get to the CR before five, I would have to wait until Monday to complete the transaction.  I did not want to wait.  I have missed golden bike acquisition opportunities before because I did not "strike when the iron was hot".  And that is an important comment when searching for a vintage bicycle to buy.  Be prepared to buy it - immediately!

If you don't have cash in hand, and I do not mean one lonely hundred dollar bill, then you will have to go and get some.  In your brief absence the seller could change his or her mind about selling you the bicycle.  I know about this because it has happened to me a couple of times, the most memorable of which was missing out on a very nice Miyata 1000 Gran Touring which though a different color from my own was, none the less, identical and in great condition.  By the way the Miyata featured is not the one I missed out on.  I have no pictures of that one, for obvious reasons.

While I was getting money, the lady who owned the bike had a visitor happen by.  Her nephew, upon learning of her intention to sell the Miyata, indicated his interest in the bike and he got it.  I lost out because I was not prepared.  Make sure you are ready to purchase on the spot.  You know the old cliché, "money talks".  Well mine, because I didn't have it with me when I needed it most, said goodbye that day.  Anyway, back to my mad rush to get money...

As I was riding hard into the wind, the thought of getting there too late loomed ever in my mind, and I spun like crazy.  I made it to the Credit Union with three minutes to spare!

The return trip to Mike's place and the three bicycles was not nearly as eventful.  The wind, at my back once again, was my friend now and the Peugeot and I flew the four or five miles back to Mike's.  Money exchanged hands with a promise that I would be right back to pick up the bicycles.  The Peugeot and I zoomed home (wind at the back all the way) in near record time.  I doused myself quickly under the shower, jumped into the Ranger and went to pick up my new/old bicycles.

Make no mistake about it the Basso Gap is a beautiful quality Italian bicycle that should please just about anyone.  It is cleanly built and wonderfully equipped with the full Campagnolo Nouvo Record grouppo.