A Wheeled Legacy

5 comments by Connor Mangan

About a year and a half ago, Andy send in an email with a request - a set of Velo Orange downtube decals for an old cantilever Pass Hunter. This isn't an uncommon ask for frame repaints, so we sent them out. Fast forward to just the other day when I received a follow-up email from Andy, this time with an update of his restoration job.

Repainted and rebadged, the bike had obviously been cared for and the attention to detail was apparent. More notable than the photos of the bike, however, was the story behind it.

Working at a bike company, you see your product leave the warehouse everyday. It's headed every which way all over the world, bound to be installed and used by the riders that enjoy them. You often don't think of where this frame is headed and where it's going to be ridden, or what kind of bike those fenders are going to be installed on as they head out the doors at VO. My correspondence with Andy was a reminder that our bikes are often an extension of ourselves, our personalities, and our stories. Here's Andy's story:

Trigger warning: This post contains discussion of a recent loss and may be difficult for some readers.


"The bike holds a special place for me. June 2021, I reunited with a friend, John "Host" Lynch, who I hadn't seen since the beginning of the pandemic. We had one of those epic rides together... single track, gravel, road, rail trail, all wrapped up with great conversation against a picturesque sunset against the Catskill Mountains near my home in Kingston, NY. Tragically, as we came close to completing our loop, I watched in horror as he was struck by a car and run over. John is no longer with us.

His family gifted me the bike. John was one of those special people who's lifestyle closely matched his values in every respect. As a matter of principle, he didn't own a car and rode everywhere. The Pass Hunter was his everyday commuter, grocery getter, weekend camper, and vehicle to visit his partner who lived over 70 miles away. He originally found it second hand at his local bike coop. As you can imagine the bike was worn and loved and ready for a fresh beginning. I needed a project to help make sense of the trauma of losing a friend. I set my mind and heart to the rebuild.
After stripping it down and removing its well-worn parts, I had a fresh powder coat applied - translucent copper from Prismatic Powders. When the sunlight is angled to the frame just right, a deep golden earthy glow comes forward. The gold anodized bolts with home-cut leather washers, and brass stem spacers from Blue Lug, accent the glow.  
I outfitted it with your Nouveau Randonneur Bar, a Brooks saddle, Origin 8 flat pedals, Tektro Onyx cantilever brakes, and Grand Cru 50.4 BCD crankset, I sought to combine comfort and reliability for long distance rides and mix the classic aesthetic of your parts with a some of my favorite tech from the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. It has a vintage Suntour XC derailleur group, shifters, and brake levers. The rims are vintage Nashbar now encircled with ginger colored Gravel King SK tires. Maroon padded bar tape from Neubaums, matching vintage cable housing sourced from the Bicycle Recyclery, topped off with gold cable cherries. A rust orange VO/Roadrunner Randonneur Bag is on your Randonneur front rack, and there's a matching tool roll on the seat. I love how the bike evokes the colors of autumn in the Northeast - my favorite time of the year and place to ride. 
VO Facetted Fenders have been added since these pics were taken. And, I'll be building up a dynamo hub wheel soon for lighting.
How does it ride? Really excellent, almost everywhere! It's buttery smooth on pavement and light gravel, but also handles mellow single track and some of the rougher farm and carriage roads I like to visit with ease. It's by far the easiest bike I've ever owned... it just wants to go. Not super fast, but steady and efficient. Very welcoming.
The Blue Lug brass stem cap is engraved with, "Be My Guest." John's nickname was "Host." He had a lovely reputation for welcoming people into his life, making them food or a spot of tea. Accepting the trauma of witnessing John's death reminded me that life, even when difficult, is a gift. We have only to accept its hospitality."

Thank you, Andy, for putting together this amazing Wheeled Legacy for your friend John. 

Andy felt comfortable sharing this incredible story with us and agreed that it was worthy to bring to you, to remind you that our bikes are extensions of ourselves, and even if we don't go on, our bikes often do. For some of us, they can represent memories shared, hills and hardships conquered, and rides yet to come. For Andy, this bike represents all three. 


  • Lance Shields

    Hi Andy.
    I was moved by your story. That’s a handsome build with a powerful legacy, thank You for sharing it. I too live in Kingston NY. I’m 62 years old old and I have recently developed an interest in building and riding vintage bikes. Maybe we can ride together one day. I know what your bike looks like and I will watch for you.
    All the best. Lance

  • Ron

    Wow. What a story. A beautiful bike to remember a beautiful friend.

  • Paul Germain

    Thanks for sharing Andy. Isn’t it amazing how a bicycle (and bicycling) can generate such a range of emotions and memories in us? My first bicycle was a refurbished 1940’s-era fat-tired Columbia which came to me on Christmas Day in 1955. It carried newspapers up and down neighborhood hills without complaint. And it gave me a work ethic (and an avocation) which has lasted a lifetime. I still ride 5,000 miles a year. Best of all, like you, my bikes have connected me to most of my closest friends.

  • Dennis

    Thank you for sharing such a personal tragedy and person in your life. You have served your friend well

  • James Kukula

    John’s obituary: https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/dailyfreeman/name/john-lynch-obituary?id=16892080

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