The Curse of the White Bike!

October 11th, 2012 by Don Walker

Hey, I love bikes of all colors.  I am even a “collector” of sorts with bikes from other builders such as Shin-ichi Konno, Richard Sachs and Della Santa. I have a few more that I’d like to add to my collection, too.

A few years back, I loaned my Della Santa to a friend while he was in town while I was finishing up his touring bike.  Against my better judgement, I did it so he could have a bike to ride while I worked and he and my former apprentice could go get some miles in.

Now, the back story is this; When I was a young punk kid, just getting into cycling, I saw a Della Santa and had that Wayne’s World moment; you know the one when Wayne is in the Guitar shop and ogling the guitar and said “you will be mine, oh yes, you will be mine…” . Well, it took me, by my count, 27 years to actually be able to afford one and when Roland asked me what color I wanted it painted, I said “Bright White, with a Pearl Clearcoat” because there is just something about a white bike that’s sexy. It’s bright, it shows off the craftsmanship, it is noticeable from a distance, too. So, my sexy white Della Santa arrives (this is back in 2008, btw) and I love this bike (see pic below).  I bet I didn’t have even 1,000 miles on it. I babied it because, after all, it was my first Della Santa.

Back to the loan…. So, one day while Zach wants to go riding with my apprentice, they decide to drive up to the north side of Indy to catch the group ride. My apprentice drove a truck and used a Trailer Hitch type of rack to haul bikes on occasion.  Well, on this occasion, the pin that holds the rack upright somehow wiggled its way out of the hole and my beloved Della Santa met the pavement at 65 mph.

I got the phone call informing me of this incident.  I was devastated. You ever see a grown man cry? Well, you would have had you been there when I took that call. After I regained my composure, I called Roland, again, and asked for a duplicate bike. He asked what had happened and I started to say that I loaned it out and before I could finish the word “loan” he interrupted me and said “Are you crazy!? You loan your wife out before you loan your bike out!” (Yeah, I get that concept now and would certainly do neither, ever!)

So a few months go by and my new Della Santa arrives and is built up. Again, white with pearl clearcoat. I love how the bike looks and rides like a dream.

Fast Forward to a couple months back. I had given my sponsored Elite Cross racer, Gian Dalle, my road bike and I hadn’t built my new road bike yet, so I was riding my *new* Della Santa for training. I was out training one morning and I had a dropped chain type of mis-shift and as I tried to correct the situation the bouncing chain got caught in the spokes and BAM!, my rear derrailuer hanger snaps sending my derrailuer into the spokes and seizing up the rear wheel and I skid to a halt. I was unharmed. No crash, but dammit! My 2nd Della Santa is now jacked up.  (See Pic)  Dammit. I can’t own nice things.

The more I thought about this situation, the more I decided it wasn’t really just the Della Santa’s. I’ve made plenty of white bikes, sure. But the more I thought, the more of a realization I have had with the fact that white bikes and I don’t mix. I love the look of them. I truly do. But, in all honesty, I feel that deep down inside, I view my own craftsmanship as flawed on a white bike.  Maybe I don’t feel that my fillets are as smooth or swanky as other builders when I see them covered in a coat of white. Maybe I have an aversion to white bikes and subconsciously I allow even one minute defect to show and then I beat myself up mentally over it. I honestly don’t know what it is, but I just don’t see my own bikes being as “perfect” when they are white. Sure, you may think they look perfect, but I just don’t see them as perfect in white. Red, blue, orange, purple, pink and especially black, they look perfect to me. White, not so much.

So, what am I really getting at? I have decided that the last bike you see pictured below will be THE VERY LAST White bike I make. Congratulations Tommy! You got the last one. But before we go and say “but why?”, I’ll tell you. Tommy’s bike was supposed to be made in time for NAHBS this year.  What happened in January as I was mid Stayer bike and Tommy’s was next? I fell down my back porch and broke my ankle.  Why? Because it was a white bike that was next in queue.  Once it came back from paint, who crashed into a fence at CX practice and couldn’t work for 3+ weeks, me. Why? Because it was a white bike that needed to get built and shipped.

Now, in order to keep the 2nd Della Santa completely original, I had sent it back to Roland for a dropout replacement. He asked “Are we keeping this the same color?” and my answer was “Hell No! Paint it blue!”

You can call me superstitious. You can call me crazy or whatever you want. Just don’t call me wanting a white bike.