Columbus Bike Fancy: Charlotte Kubat

Charlotte was walking her multi-colored clover-framed Colnago the opposite direction as me in the Short North when I complimented upon the beauty of the frame. She smiled and thanked me. We both walked on for a minute or so before I was all like, “Duh, Bike Fancy!” So I whirled around and dashed after her.

            This past weekend I had the pleasure of interviewing Charlotte within her family’s business, Columbus’s own MagnoliaThunderpussy. I managed to snap a multitude of blurry, unsuccessful photos of her Colnago resting against stacks of old vinyl. I say unsuccessful because this bike is wonderfully colorful and gorgeous, and as I scrolled through the dozens of snapshots stored on my memory card, I realized none really translate the beauty properly. You can’t really tell that the frame tubes are shamrock-shaped. It’s just an awesome bike.
To boot, for the interview Charlotte even brought in the old frame from a past favorite bike.

What kind of bike are you riding? Where did you get it?  Does she have a name?

            It’s a Colnago Master X Light.  It’s a steel frame that they made in the early 2000s.  I wanted to build it as a 7 speed roadie but the last owner Dremeled off the shifter lever nubs and the derailleur hanger on the dropout.  Their plan was to send it back to the factory for a new paint job and build it as a fixie. Sacrilege!  It’s still beautiful, thankfully there is so much going on with the paint most people don’t notice that Dr. Frankenstein got a hold of it.

How I came into possession of this thing is kind of a long story. Back in 2003 I started dating this guy who was a bike courier.  He was a bike fanatic that had been racing BMX since he was a kid.  He taught me everything about bikes and how to maintain them, plus he had all the tools!  Up until then I always had mountain bikes (My baby, my Specialized, was the first really expensive thing I ever saved up my allowance for).  Anyway, since I’m 5'  tall we had to look on Ebay for a teeny 48cm road bike frame and that’s when I got my 1978 Francesco Moser.  I stripped it and rode it fixie with no brakes, which made my dad think I had a death wish...But it was tits!  I felt like such a bad ass.

One night we [the ex boyfriend and Charlotte -Editor] got in a huge fight (most likely alcohol induced) and he smashed it with an asp baton. The Moser was no more. He bought me a new frame though, a red Soma track bike with actual horizontal drop outs. It was soooo shiny and beautiful and a true pleasure to ride. This romantic tale of Girl-Boy-Bike love ends tragically when we break up and 6 months later he steals it from in front of the BP on Neil Ave.  The last time I saw that bike it was in the front of a COTA bus with the logos taped off in black electrical tape. I was pretty upset and still bikeless.
(The ruined frame. Charlotte's hoping that this may be repairable and the frame built back up as a polo bike) 

So, years go by, out of the blue the ex contacts me because he’s moving and offers me the Colnago, not for free as was deserved, but for a price that one would never be so fortunate to come  across again. So I took it. We came full circle, and I had a bike again.  Well, a bike frame, a chain, a chain ring, and a set of 1970s Dura-ace cranks that were on an Olympic time trial bike.
I spent the next four years collecting parts.  First I got the fork off Ebay.  My roommate, best friend, and ex-bike messenger Dan Bausch bought me one part every Christmas and birthday there for a while- He got me my lady seat, my headset and my stem. He also scrounged up some wheels from another friend. Eventually I had enough pieces and a little bit of dough, so I loaded it all up in my station wagon and took it down to my friend Casey Karnes who owns B1 Bicycles and basically said “Make a bike.”

He delivered it to me at the record store (Magnolia Thunderpussy) where I work and the rest is history.

My dad is just impressed that I have brakes.

Does he or she have a name?

No, I’m terrible at naming things.  I call it Pink Bike if that counts... which is funny because technically the bike is white, dark green, and neon orange.   This is why I let other people name my pets.

Bike accessory you can’t live without?

Water Bottle.  I’m terrified of being thirsty/dehydrated/stranded.  My Nalgene is my best friend. Sunblock comes in close second.

Where do you ride? What’s your favorite route?

You’re most likely to see me cruising on 4th, Summit, or High between campus and the Short North.  When I go on longer rides I always head south.  I’ll take the bike path to the Audubon Park and see how far I can ride until it starts to get dark.  My love affair with the South/West side of Columbus started young so I ride around Franklinton a whole lot to take pictures.  When I want to do some hardcore conditioning I love sprinting down to Batelle Park on Broad and Marconi as fast as I possibly can, and then running sets of stairs for 45 minutes.  It’s so brutal.  When I ride home I’m moving at a snail’s pace.  Other bikers pass me and shoot me this slowpoke glance, and for a moment my pride is hurt, and I have to remind myself I just maxed my heart rate out for an hour, and it’s a miracle I’m not crawling home.

What’s the most exotic/interesting/strange ride you’ve experienced?

My first messenger race was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2004.  I was in nowhere near the physical shape I am in now, and I was having a really hard time keeping up with our crew so after a couple stops I threw in the towel.  After finding a bush to puke in, I spent the rest of the day exploring downtown. I tooled around at the beach. I discovered a paper recycling plant and rode around inside the warehouse- no one seemed to notice me. I went across a couple rivers and found the Hispanic section of town, it was really fun! I’m an introverted only child so I think I do my best expeditions alone.  On my way back into downtown I remember standing and waiting to cross the street and a gust of wind came and blew my bike out from under me. I was holding it out like a beach blanket and it was flapping it in the wind as I was trying to muscle it back onto the ground. That’s never happened to me before, and thank god it hasn’t happened since.

     What does Columbus NEED in reference to bikes, in your opinion?

Columbus needs to work on its Car-Bicycle relationships. I don’t think there is a place in America that can get this right, and I kind of doubt we will be less auto-centric in the future. Everyone that rides generally has a distaste for traffic, but bikers need to hold up their end of the bargain and follow the rules too, or it’s just animosity all around.

Don’t ride the wrong way down a one way and expect cars to be looking for you.

Street or Sidewalk: Pick one! Cars can’t predict your erratic sidewalk to street intersection Frogger-style riding.

Stop riding with your headphones on!  Your eyes see in front of you but you have these magic things called ears and they can hear what’s behind you.

In the end it’s Bike Vs. Car...and the average car weighs 4,000 lbs.  25% of accidents are hit and run.  Please ride smart.