Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Berg Bikes

This ride blew my knees out for a week.

A couple of weeks ago we decided to ride up to Cobble Hill and visit one of the more unique facets of Vancouver Island's cycling community, Berg Bikes.

An early morning departure preceded coffee stops and a jaunt down the goose in the direction of the Malahat. The three of us were on brakeless track bikes, with Clay riding his track-racing 50t big ring, a choice that led to some swearing and sweating once the ride got steep.

New kits, and a bit of ego, kept the pace high through Goldstream and up the first few ramps of the Malahat until Shawnigan Lake turnoff. A fast descent, tacky pavement and a few close-calls pushed us in the direction of Cobble Hill and the Bergman homestead/ workshop.

Al Bergman, in addition to being a really nice guy, is a bicycle frame builder. Dealing primarily in titanium and steel frames, he has been creating frames out of his Cobble Hill workshop since 2005.

Al is also a paraplegic. The aftermath of a fall sustained while working as a forest fire fighter has Al confined to a wheelchair. Accordingly, the Berg workshop is setup to accommodate his unique situation. Ground level, the shop has an open, clean feel, with a network of pulleys and climbing rope to hang frames, spare wheels and tools from the rafters.

Al's bikes range from record-setting randonneuring bikes, to titanium dual-suspension, to racing and sportive road bikes. Using a mix of Dedacciai and Columbus tubing, Paragon hardware, and lots of care and attention, his bikes are Vancouver Island-made to be the first perfect bike a customer has ever owned.

After more coffee at the Drumroaster, and a few mechanicals, our group headed back to town via the Mill Bay- Brentwood Bay ferry.

All told, well over 100km.

Thanks to Al for the shop visit, and putting up with our strange cavalcade, to Halldor for the superb photos, and all the old Brit track guys that seem to find us on these rides, reminisce, shake their heads, and talk about gear inches.

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