The soul of a bike is the soul of a man

Blog post written by David Hemming.

In life you meet people, occasionally you meet amazing people for me that day was when I met Steve Worland. He was not just into cycling he was in fact a corner stone and a pioneer of the way many of us enjoy and take for granted the way bikes are today.

He was a forward thinker and ahead of the curve. From his ideas of shorts stems and long top tubes even down to being one of the first to race cross country mountain biking on a full suspension.

However Steve was not just at the forefront of the bike explosion when mountain biking came along, by the time this happened he had already been racing for decades as a young boy of 13 in track, road, cross and time trails. Had he been ten years younger when mountain biking came around he would have been one of the best racers to come out of the UK in my opinion.

He did race for Team GB at three mountain bike World Championships. I would say that Steve was an all round cyclist.

Sadly on the 29th March 2014 Steve’s life was cut short, he was out running in one of his much-loved spots in Bristol, Ashton Court when he had a heart attack and died.

My career in cycling is all down to him and the opportunity he gave me to race a bike. As a twig thin 17 year old in 1989 when I met him for my interview to join the Gary Fisher team.

To this day I can remember it, no boardroom, no resume of results just a simple ride, easy right? Not so simple, see back then Steve was at the top of his game as a mountain bike racer and that day my interview in Richmond Park was simple, keep up and you can race on the team.

Needless to say I rode my heart out that day. What a way to earn a spot on a team! I thank him for what he saw and believed in that day.

Over the past 25 years I worked and traveled with Steve I got to learn a whole lot about two wheels from him. From his days at Muddy Fox and Pace cycles he really had a hand in many of the game changing brands and technologies.

Deep down though his passion for the bike and the journey it creates is really where he inspires me.

You could blind fold him, stick him on a bike make he ride around and ask him for the geometry and he could tell you. He could tell you what brakes and shifters he had in his hands by their simple shape and feel.

He rode a lot of bikes and never forgets the feeling that a bike had, the extension of your very being and some of those bikes some never left him.

He recounted his first love (a bike) at the young and impressionable age, A Viking Severn Valley. Spending all his free time on it and looking after it, pocket money was now the conduit for pots of Duraglit, handle bar tape and trinket upgraded parts.

The beauty of that is that he never ever stopped being like that, always building, tweaking and riding. It really is no surprise to me that Steve became a test editor for MBUK and What Mountain Bike and one of the most respect cycling journalists.

His passion from the early age for his Viking never left him, sure the conversation about it and the Viking “Ian Steel” that a school friend had beaten him on in their first time trail faded as the years clocked up.

Over half a century later Steve found himself on a quest, to put together something from an ancient beast with a modern twist.

His broad knowledge did not make him in anyway set in just one style of bike but it is fair to say he did always have a passion a certain love for all things steel, lugs, simple colors and Campagnolo.

There comes a point, I think I am there now, that point is that you look back a little more than you do forward and you fantasize about the bikes you once had and even more so about the ones you didn’t have.

That point in life is normally when you have two key elements, time and resource. So for Steve he had started to search for those bikes.

When Steve first told me about the Viking Ian Steel I was encapsulated by his passion for it and his deep-rooted connection of being 13 again. “It did not take long and I found one on www.retrobike.co.uk

Just to build a bike of the age is a challenge but to Steve there was a further goal to this project. Build a childhood dream bike and then take it to L’Eroica in Italy and ride the vintage classic ride.

The bike you are looking at now is an original 1954 Viking Ian Steel, named after Ian Steel’s win of the 1951 Tour of Britain. However it had been made into a three-speed town bike. It was very scruffy and was going to need many hours of work. Steve paid the £40 plus postage for the complete bike.

The issue that can unfold quickly with old frames is that they don’t fit so well with modern components without modification. This is where you can lose yourself Steve told me looking on eBay for the right old parts.

“You find yourself hunting for Campagnolo old style rear gear mechanism to fit an old style gear hanger, or a narrow rear hub that’ll take a five speed screw-on freewheel”

For frame restoration you have to use Argos, they have been repairing and restoring frames for 30 years. Today they are busier with ever, the popularity of cycling in many ways is a catalyst for many a riders childhood dreams. Hence why Argos are so busy!

The issue with old frames, and the Ian Steel frame is one of them, they were built to be all rounder’s. The race frames of this time would often have mudguard eyes and a lamp bracket on the fork and it was only the professionals that got the stripped down version.

Once you hand the frame over to Argos you really don’t know what state the frame is in until they shot blast the paint off. The beauty of Argos is they can repair anything-even replace tubes.

Thankfully after the shot blast the frame revealed it was structurally sound with just some minor pitting that needed smoothing over and filling.

Steve decided not to be a full on purist here with the frame and move away from the track style drop outs and frame clips to mount the cables and opting for drop outs with the gear hanger built in, braze on cable guides and bosses on the down tube to give him the option to have down tube or bar end mounted shifters.

I really like his touch to have the dropouts finished in stainless as he pointed out “This is where you get the first paint damage” and so right he is.

The paint colour he ended up going with is a coffee and magnolia cream, he laughed with me about this as he thinks it is more of a baby-poo colour.

The ride itself is devine, it takes me back to my childhood in the 1970’s. I rode bikes like this all day long, with no real purpose other than to just ride. The modern era has made me somewhat lazy, everything I use now works with such precision. The 1960’s Campagnolo on this bike has to be ridden with respect because it is old and that it is somewhat clunky in its functions.

I found this out when a slipped a gear and I found myself going over the bars. In the split moment of crashing every thought went through my head “ I am crashing, I cant crash this bike, not this bike, I have to save the bike at all cost even to the cost of myself”

I did everything to get under the bike to break its fall. I managed it and ended up hitting my head really hard on the ground with no helmet on and sustained I mild concussion (I kept that quite from Steve as we had pictures to shoot) Thankfully Steve Behr caught the whole thing.

Was it Steve W reminding me to pay attention? I like to think so.

We decided to shoot the bike with no helmet and wearing Vulpine Summer shorts and the Merino Henley to create a true 1950’s look. I think the look we created is cool and would work at L’Eroica even down to the Velorution vintage shoes

All images above of Dave Hemming riding 1954 Viking bicycle restored by Steve Worland . Berkshire , March 2015.

I like the colour and the time spent on building this bike, 50 hours is worth a working week of anyone’s time.

Steve really did leave behind a great impression of himself in this Viking- Ian Steel. His subtle application to make something amazing, the detail in the build and the overall finish of this bike reminds me of his passion for cycling, I will always miss my friend and I will be ever thankful for what he saw in me that day in Richmond Park.

Here’s to being –Rugged and Windswept

 

 THE SPECIFICATION LIST

Including approximate costs

Frame/Fork: Viking Ian Steel Reynolds 531. £40 from retrobike.co.uk

Refurb: £537 from argoscycles.com

Rims: Velo Orange Raid. £58 each from cadencebikeshop.com

Hubs: 1960s Campagnolo Record. £50 from eBay

Spokes: DT Stainless Plain Gauge. £24 from madison.co.uk

Tyres: Challenge Eroica 700 x 30mm. £48 each from paligap.cc

Tubes, Cables etc: £25

Crankset: 1960s Campagnolo Record 52/42. £55 from eBay

Front Gear Mech: 1960s Campagnolo. £10 from a bike jumble

Rear Gear Mech: 1960s Campagnolo Record. £15 from a bike jumble

Shifters: Campagnolo bar end. £20 from eBay

Pedals: Anonymous, Christophe clips. £5 from a bike jumble

Chain: Wipperman. £12 from extra.co.uk

Freewheel: IRD 5 Speed 13-28. £40 from fine-adc.com

Handlebar: M Kint/S Maes. Gifted.

Stem: Titan Steel. Gifted

Brakes: 1960s Bianchi. £8 from eBay

Saddle: Brooks B17 Honey. £70 from extra.co.uk

Seat Post: Anonymous 26.8mm. Gifted

Mudguards: Portland Design Works £60 from paligap.cc

Extras: Brooks leather toe straps + bar tape. £45 + £25 from extra.co.uk

Weight Complete: 24.7lb

Cost Complete: £1253

Approximate time for sourcing, refurbishing and assembly: 50 hours

 

 

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