I’ve been a little remiss in sharing an interesting little story that unfolded over a couple of months this past year, but I wasn’t sure where or how it would end – and I’m not sure it even has ended yet. My story involves a couple of unrelated Holdsworth bike frames, messages within messages, and a little dose of pure serendipity. And let this serve as an example of just how much the internet has impacted – for the better, I might add – how we pass along our traditions of oral history.
But I digress: Earlier this year I was contacted by British cycling enthusiast Chris Jones who’d come across photographs I’d posted on Flickr of my Holdsworth Professional. I think I’ll let Chris’s emails tell the story:
Today I’ve bought what I’ve been told is a ‘1982’ Professional, and from its details it is a Pro frame. However it was built by a bike shop for a local guy to race on, so it has their decals and paint job – Partingtons Cycles in Bolton, UK. It has sat in his garage since the mid eighties when he gave up racing, and apart from tyres and rims it’s exactly how he had it built. Do you have any knowledge of Holdsworth serial numbers and how to decipher them, and if so could you enlighten me please? I note yours starts with 028 whereas mine starts 033, so I’m curious what the numbers mean and how I determine the actual year of the frame. Any help would be gratefully welcomed.
Kind regards, Chris Jones
I offered a few suggestions and received Chris’s warm reply:
Hi Mark, Many, many thanks for your rapid response, replete with useful links. There are a few that I have already encountered, but a number of them are definitely new to me, so should provide me with hours of bedtime reading. Hopefully I’ll ascertain whether it’s an 81 or 82 frame, but intend on keeping it how it is really, and just give it a good clean.
Many thanks for your help, Chris
Later that same day, I noticed that Chris had sent a rather remarkable follow up reply:
Hi Mark, i’ve just checked my inbox and found a group of messages, but bizarrely two regarding the Holdsworth – yours and one from the original owner! He’s sent a message regarding the history of the bike that tallies up with other information i’ve managed to find regarding the frame, it’s age and Horwich CC and Partingtons Cycles. I’m loving the historical element of this ‘new’ bike! Hi Chris, I’m really pleased its gone to a good home ill try and give you some info. I joined Horwich cycle club in1977 and raced a Harry Quinn bike which was for time trailing, but in 1982 I wanted to road race more and asked partingtons cycles to build me a road bike. They ordered the frame to my spec from Holdsworth, and then built all the bits on. They sponsored the club, so I got 20% discount off the normal price, and it cost a thousand then. hope this helps keep in touch, Duncan
Just need to get it cleaned, tyres pumped and on the road.
This turn of events had really caught my interest and I asked Chris for a few details about his bike. I also asked if he would mind me sharing photographs and his story on The Early Morning Cyclist. Chris was agreeable.
I haven’t taken any decent photos yet, only a couple of component images (camera phone only) but i’ll sort them soon. However, I did make a note of the components that are fitted. Furthermore, the original owner has been in touch again to give a little more of its history as shown below.. Apparently, the process involved Horwich Cycling Club shop taking his measurements, asking about his ability as a cyclist and what type of events he was intending to enter. He advised of his colour preference, and then the shop filled in a Holdsworth(?) form with all details and sent it off. Some time later (he can’t remember how long exactly) a racing frame in a champagne gold colour was delivered. The shop then set to, adding the components that he had specified. He thinks it may have turned up with a black headset, but as everything else was chrome it was changed for a chrome Campagnolo one by the shop to match. Partingtons Cycles shop decals were added and he was off riding! Component list is as follows:
Seatpost – Campagnolo Record 27.2mm and 200mm long Seat – Iscaselle Tornado with a dark brown suede finish Brake calipers – Weinmann 405 front and back Front dérailleur – Shimano 600 EX Arabesque FD-6200 Rear dérailleur – Shimano 600 EX Arabesque RD-6200 (short cage) (Check – code EH on rear of parallelogram would mean 1980 build. Scroll work on top may mean earlier model?) Chainset – Shimano 600 EX Arabesque FC-6200 Bottom Bracket – Shimano 600 EX BB-6200 Gear levers – Shimano 600 EX Arabesque SL-6200 Stem – Cinelli 1A Handlebars – Cinelli Campione del Mondo Wheels Hubs – Campagnolo Nuovo(?) Rims – Campagnolo Berlin 36h (brand new due to old rims in poor state) Seatpin – Campagnolo Headset – Campagnolo Nuovo Record
Some time passed, and before long I got busy with other things and had lost track of the conversation. Then a couple weeks ago, this response from Chris:
I took a few photos a while ago and was convinced I’d sent you the link. Must’ve been a fuzzy head day because I didn’t! Apologies, but here goes www.flickr.com/photos/88516455@N05/sets/72157632002820190/
I asked him a few follow up questions about Horwich Cycling Club, to which he responded:
Hi, Horwich Cycling Club were a large club in the North West of England, and were sponsored by a cycle shop called Partingtons of Bolton. Duncan wanted to go road racing, so had his measurements taken by the shop, who in turn sent the relevant details off to Holdsworth for the frame. When it arrived, the club shop built the bike up using components Duncan had specified. As a member of the club he received a 20% discount, but it apparently still cost him in the region of £1000. Ouch.
And that, as they say, is that.
But for Flickr and WordPress and all of the other means of immediate, worldwide digital communication, this tiny little story might have otherwise been lost. I feel just a little richer for Chris having shared it with me.
Thanks, Chris – and enjoy your beautiful bike!