Jeff Curtes has been a friend of the shop for years and years. We’ve built him Speedvagen Cross and Road Machines and he has my old SS Vanilla cross bike (a bike that I still love, btw and want to make a million (probably a hundred)more of).
Every time that Jeff and I talk about the culture of speedvagen and the role that Speedvagen has in the racing community, it becomes more apparent to me that 1) he is so passionate and dedicated to riding hard, but treating people well and 2) he and I are totally on the same page. His love for the sport is infectious which is one of the traits that makes him such a great ambasador for the sport.
After a couple of years of focussing inward, we are, this year, coming back up for air, or more appropriately coming up for mud and building our cross team for the coming season. There will be several new riders and a couple that have been with me for the long haul. Jeff, as someone who embodies the soul of Speedvagen, will be one of the anchors of the team.
Recently Jeff took part in a Rapha film project The Snowys in Australia. Below is text from Jeff recounting the experience, as well as photos, a link to the film and below that is the classic Mulga Bill’s poem….
Riding for Rapha’s The Snowys was a long overdue and highly anticipated chance for me to join up with the Continental on one of their many adventures. With all of my travels during the North American winter months, the timing never worked out to ride with the domestic Conti crew, so when the opportunity came to hook with the Aussie boys, I jumped at the chance and made the 6 hour car trip from Sydney down to the snow in Jindy.
Without a doubt, the trip into The Snowy’s was one of my most memorable times on the bike since living here in Sydney. In contrast to my usual solo riding or local crits, the getting out there and riding in the mountains was epic. The snow and ice? Wasn’t expecting that! At times was wishing on was on my Speedvagen CX machine instead! With some tweaks in our route and agenda, we got it all in..riding, filming and an amazing fireplace lit lodge to warm the frozen hands and feet. Couldn’t have been better really. I’m getting a lot of feedback about ‘The Drool’…I think it’s giving Armstrong and Ullrich’s The Look a run for the money!
Joining the Aussie Rapha Conti crew was a chance for me to be on the other side of the camera for a change and that what’s left one of the strongest impressions on me as I reminisce about those days. The majority of the camerawork happened from the back of a moving minivan, and everything was shot on a Canon DSLR.
Next Aussie Conti shoot is happening sometime before Xmas at a yet disclosed location, and without a doubt I’ll be there. Hopefully though, camera instead of handlebars will be at my fingertips, and hopefully they won’t be frozen!
MULGA BILL’S BICYCLE by A.B. “Banjo” Paterson
‘Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze;
He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;
He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen;
He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine;
And as he wheeled it through the door, with air of lordly pride,
The grinning shop assistant said, “Excuse me, can you ride?”
“See here, young man,” said Mulga Bill, “from Walgett to the sea,
From Conroy’s Gap to Castlereagh, there’s none can ride like me.
I’m good all round at everything as everybody knows,
Although I’m not the one to talk – I hate a man that blows.
But riding is my special gift, my chiefest, sole delight;
Just ask a wild duck can it swim, a wildcat can it fight.
There’s nothing clothed in hair or hide, or built of flesh or steel,
There’s nothing walks or jumps, or runs, on axle, hoof, or wheel,
But what I’ll sit, while hide will hold and girths and straps are tight:
I’ll ride this here two-wheeled concern right straight away at sight.”
‘Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that sought his own abode,
That perched above Dead Man’s Creek, beside the mountain road.
He turned the cycle down the hill and mounted for the fray,
But ‘ere he’d gone a dozen yards it bolted clean away.
It left the track, and through the trees, just like a silver steak,
It whistled down the awful slope towards the Dead Man’s Creek.
It shaved a stump by half an inch, it dodged a big white-box:
The very wallaroos in fright went scrambling up the rocks,
The wombats hiding in their caves dug deeper underground,
As Mulga Bill, as white as chalk, sat tight to every bound.
It struck a stone and gave a spring that cleared a fallen tree,
It raced beside a precipice as close as close could be;
And then as Mulga Bill let out one last despairing shriek
It made a leap of twenty feet into the Dean Man’s Creek.
‘Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that slowly swam ashore:
He said, “I’ve had some narrer shaves and lively rides before;
I’ve rode a wild bull round a yard to win a five-pound bet,
But this was the most awful ride that I’ve encountered yet.
I’ll give that two-wheeled outlaw best; it’s shaken all my nerve
To feel it whistle through the air and plunge and buck and swerve.
It’s safe at rest in Dead Man’s Creek, we’ll leave it lying still;
A horse’s back is good enough henceforth for Mulga Bill.”