In 1980 I purchased an English, bespoke, steel touring frame, hand crafted by Chas Roberts of Croydon, England, the son of Charlie Roberts, founder of Roberts Cycles, one of the finest bespoke frame shops in the country.
I subsequently named the bike Chas, not after the frame builder, but rather my father whose name was also Charlie. Those of you who follow this blog know that I still ride Chas regularly. He has been rebuilt several times, first as a touring bike, then a road racer, and now as a bike to train on.
Chas Roberts is on sabbatical and has temporarily (I hope) suspended operations.
I purchased Chas from a fellow named Michael Barry who, at the time, owned a bicycle shop in downtown Toronto called BicycleSport. A black and white decal with the shop’s name and address is still affixed to Chas’s down tube. Michael is an ex-racer from England, and his shop was a cyclists’ candy store carefully displaying top end components from Cinelli, Campagnola, and other elite component manufacturers. The shop was close to the university where I was teaching at the time, and I would drop in frequently on my way home.
Michael Barry also made frames. Shortly after opening the shop he introduced a bike brand he named Mariposa. His frames were beautiful but, because I mistakenly thought he was new to the business, I preferred the Roberts. He named the brand after cottage country north of Toronto, an area now known as Kawartha Lakes where my family cottage is.
Can you see this circle yet?
After 30 years of operation, Micheal closed BicycleSport and ended the Mariposa tradition.
Micheal Barry had a son, Micheal Berry Jr. You may have heard of him? He is a retired “domestique”, racing with the likes of Team Sky, T-Mobile, US Postal, Discovery Channel, and the Saturn Cycling Team.
I was given a copy of the December edition of the Canadian Cycling Magazine for Christmas. It’s the one magazine I read cover-to-cover, including all of the advertisements. The feature article of the issue is entitled “A Family’s Tradition” written by Michael Barry Jr. The headline reads “After years of racing abroad, a son’s passion for cycling now picks up where it began, at home in his father’s shop“.
You got it.
Michael Barry Jr, and his wife Dede (Demet) Barry, time trial Silver Medalist from the 2004 Athens Olympics, have resurrected the Mariposa brand, continuing the long standing family tradition of crafting custom frames for randonneurs, racers, and tourists.
I need a new bike. Well … I would like a new bike. No cyclist needs a new bike, but every cyclist would like another bike.
I would like a Mariposa bike.
It just makes sense. It is meant to be. The frames are made by the son of the fellow that sold me my first bespoke bike, and taught me the intricacies of bike geometry and fitting. And not only that, the bikes are named after the very place I enjoy most – the cottage at Mariposa.
The Mariposa shop is located on the east side of Toronto, close to where I used to live. Next summer, while at the cottage, I will visit the shop to place an order for a new, bespoke, steel frame.
I just have to decide what style of bike I would like.
You see. I have come full circle.
I like it. Not so much you choosing your bike as your bike choosing you.
That’s right. I never thought of it quite like that.
What a beautiful circle, Gary! I can’t wait to hear more about the bike that will joining your family 😀
It’s exciting thinking about it. I’m torn about what type to build – something I don’t already have and that I’m likely to use a lot in the coming years.
Before you wrote this you probably just wanted the bike. Now you have published, so justifiably you need it, or your audience will be disappointed.
It’s now just a question of time.
You’re so right. I have committed myself.