06 January 2015

The Real Pista

In an earlier post, I recounted my misadventure with my first "fixie" conversion:  a Peugeot U-08 on which I tried to lock down a fixed cog and lockring to the stock Normandy hub by the force of my youthful hormones.

Before that, I wrote about what might have been the wildest bike I've ever owned:  a KHS Aero Track.   Since then, you've read about my many adventures on Tosca, the fixed-gear Mercian I now ride.

While Tosca's frame has track geometry, more or less, I never intended it as an NJS-approved (or -approvable) velodrome bike.  Instead, I think of it as a cross between a track bike and the British "club" machines from the 1930s through the 1950s:  Something I can ride for a couple of hours, or more rather than the minutes or seconds it takes to sprint around banked curves.

And, yes, it has a "flip-flop hub" (as those club bikes often had) brakes (!) and water bottle braze-ons (!!)--and bags, even.  

But I once had a track bike that had  none of those things. It wasn't even drilled for brakes. (The KHS was.) It had a "flip-flop" hub--for fixed gears on both sides. The bike I'm going to write about was intended as a track machine, pure and simple.

It's a name you've all seen, but in an iteration you haven't seen unless you probably haven't seen unless you've been cycling for a couple of decades.

It's---drumroll--a Bianchi Pista.  But not the one that all of the hipsters in Williamsburg were riding around 2005.  That, while probably a decent bike, is a Chinese knockoff of the Pista I rode for about five years.

This BIanchi Pista was made in Italy, in the same factory as their other racing bikes.  Its tubes were Columbus Cro Mor, which were said to be stiffer than the SL tubes of my Colnago.  

Actually, given that and the tight track geometry, the Pista wasn't quite as stiff or harsh as I expected it to be.  Mind you, it's not what I'd ride on a hilly century, but I found I could put in an hour or two without feeling that my dental work was going to fall out.

Then again, I very rarely rode it on anything rough.  Most of my rides on the Pista were in Prospect Park, only a couple of blocks from where I was living (in Park Slope, Brooklyn) during the time I rode it.  For laps starting in Grand Army Plaza, the Pista was great.

But, eventually, I got tired of that and, if I recall correctly, needed some cash for some harebrained venture I came up with.  The guy who bought it from me had aspirations of actually becoming a professional racer. (I don't think he did, but that says nothing about the bike, really.)  He talked me down a bit in price because he didn't like the color (which, of course, I loved) but still preferred it to "Crest toothpaste green", as he called BIanchi's Celeste finish.

When I first got the Pista, I had my Mondonico--my first purple bike--and, by the time I sold it, I was riding my Land Shark--my first purple-and-green, and my first custom, frame. Also, at the time I bought the Pista, I was just starting to do some fairly serious off-road riding on a Jamis Dakota and, later, my Bontrager Race Lite.

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