As dedicated BB readers might remember, your humble blogposter went on a five-week bicycle tour of Portugal, a tiny bit of Spain, France, and a snippet of Germany last Summer. I wrote about the journey and while those tales had just about nothing to do with making Albuquerque Better, it sure as heck made Scot better (and his wife, who was able to join him in France).
Essential to last Summer’s adventures was “Frankie Mitts,” the name given to the VSF T-100 bike that I bought new in Lisbon and donated, about 1,300 miles of riding later, to a refugee mental health organization in Hannover, Germany.
I told the story of Frankie, short for Francois Mitterrand (long story), upon my return to the States, and posted a happy photo of the folks at the refugee organization as I left him in their hands.
What I didn’t subsequently mention was the very good news that office staff at the organization decided auctioning the bike would be the best way to benefit, and they found a bidder in Jorrit, who, as you shall read, is a very dedicated lover of bicycles.
That’s where the good news in the story ends for quite a while.
Jorrit had the bike, which he, of course, devotedly called Frankie, for about a month, before the Frankster was stolen. I got the bad news and a request for registration information on the bicycle. A contact with my Lisbon bike seller, himself a great lover of bicycles, took care of that. The happy story of Frankie had taken a very grim turn.
It seems that even though the VSF T-100 is close to bottom of the line in terms of “trekking” bikes for the German company, VSF’s reputation make it a “nice bike” and “nice,” of course, is international bicycle language for “potentially stolen.”
So Frankie is gone, Jorrit, who had bid bounteously at auction, and who also spent good money beefing up Frankie’s brakes and other components, was out a bike.
And time went by.
Then earlier this week, very close to a year since I last saw Frankie in Hannover, Jorrit passes along the following note:
Hey Scot, I got a call from the police on Monday. Somebody found a suspicious bike standing in front of their house and they reported it to them. Turns out it was Frankie, even though in a bad condition. The rear wheel was replaced, the front wheel was broken and some other parts were damaged. I just wanted to let you know that I have Frankie back, now I restore him to his former glory. Have a nice day! – Jorrit
I can tell you that on days, weeks, seasons such as we have endured lately, receiving such a note is so lovely it gives an admittedly often cynical person pause. The best kind of pause.
Here’s what Frankie looks like now, pending Jorrit’s restoring “him to his former glory.”
Jorrit added this note to the photos above:
As you can see, the thieves removed the badge at the front and the lamps. The rear wheel was replaced by one from a road bike with a worn-out cassette sprocket which ruined the chain. The front wheel was deformed and couldn’t be repaired, so I got rid of it, too. Somehow it is astonishing that whoever stole Frankie couldn’t remove the brakes. They were quite precious – especially to me because I purchased them for less than catalog price and I put them on and bled them all by myself.
All in all, I had Frankie for one month and less than a week before he got stolen. After the theft I had an eye out for black touring bikes in my hometown and chased lots of people looking after him – sadly without any result. Guess I was just looking in the wrong place. I spent the next three months looking on the bike markets on the internet and the local bric-a-brac sales. While looking after the bike I spotted an almost similar VSF T-700 in Bochum/Germany, almost 300 Kilometers away for 950€. I bought it and rode it home, changed the rear bike rack, contacted the manufacturer of Frankie’s lowrider and got my hands on one of the last Hebie lowriders.
Even though Frankie got stolen, I tried to build a replica because I had no hopes of finding Frankie again, but apparently, sometimes, miracles do happen. I wanted to let you know that your Frankie is in good hands and even if I have two of the same bikes now, I’ll keep them both. It wasn’t easy getting the parts for my T-700 together, and it has better accessories, more gears, and better drivetrain – but my relationship to it isn’t just as personal as it is to Frankie.
And so ends, hopefully happily ever after, the story of Frankie Mitts. I’ll post photos once Jorrit finishes getting him back into street shape. Until then, I’ll just fondly look at Frankie in his skeletal condition as a reminder that we can endure, even the ongoing current string of days, weeks, and seasons. We may be metaphorical skeletons, but we can make it.
Have a great weekend, everybody!