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The Bicycle Collectors: Andrew Wheeldon

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It is mostly a case of 'Colnago or nothing.' For Andrew. (Photo: R24)
It is mostly a case of 'Colnago or nothing.' For Andrew. (Photo: R24)

Like most of us, this Capetonian started cycling as a small kid, but it was in 1979, as a young teenager that he first started attempting more serious, longer bike rides. 

“My first race as a 14 year old was in April 1980 and have since participated in about 400 races over 40 years. My interest in cycling has been strengthened by my work, as founder/managing director of BEN, policy/research officer for Qhubeka or other training and research work since 2000 to promote cycling as a form of mobility in cities.”

Keeping a careful log of the kilometres he’s pedalled, Andrew has now gone well past the half-a-million-kilometre milestone making sure he gets in a ride every day, be it only to the shops, a quick 20km on the indoor trainer, or commuting to a work meeting once or twice a week. 

“For the remainder of each week, I will try to get in 5-6 solid training rides of 40km or more, with one long ride of more than 100km each weekend. My longest single day ride is over 400km, with a highest week of 865km, month of 2 500+km and biggest year of over 27 000km (in 2017).”

The beauty of old steel bicycles was always a big part of what began his interest in the sport too. “For me it’s about the beauty of where the bike takes you, the health and fitness it gives you, and equally importantly, the beautiful aesthetics of a bespoke Italian steel bike with artistic lugs, a handcrafted solid build, stylish Campagnolo componentry, and the magic of well-designed and built wheels. I was immediately drawn to this, and by default to those from Italian stables.”

Andrew currently owns 34 bikes – 24 steel and 10 carbon – of which 21 are road bikes, with 13 mountain or commuter bikes. Eleven of these bikes are Colnagos. “Every bike gets out on the road – with the older precious vintage bikes being used for easy coffee rides and for trips to exhibitions or vintage bike events.”

“It is very difficult to choose my top five, as I love all my bikes. I have perhaps ten top favourites in the 34 based on history, aesthetics, race results, comfort and that certain special connection that one has with a particular bike – but here is a selection of those that stand out in various ways. I do feel guilty leaving others out, but here are five that are all special in one way or another.”

1. Colnago Master Arabesque, 1988

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