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Llewellyn Custom Bicycles

Darrell McCulloch

Monday 27 August 2018

Darrell McCulloch: The phone rings, it's Dario!

Darrell McCulloch of Llewellyn Custom Bicycles remembers a surprise call from Dario Pegoretti that resulted in a new lug set.

Darrell McCulloch: The phone rings, it's Dario!
Pegoretti and McCulloch in 2010 with the Cadenzia lugs. Photo: Llewellynbikes.com

My phone rings and an English-speaking but heavily accented Italian is talking to me.

Who the heck could this be? I am in the Australian cycling team’s workshop in an old industrial building near Varese in Northern Italy towards the end of a three month team mechanic stint, preparing equipment for the 2009 World Championships.

“Dazza, when are you coming to visit?” The voice said.
I ask, “who is this?”
“It is Dario.”
“Dario who?” I ask. Heck, out of the blue an Italian named Dario is ringing me, the first thing I am thinking: have I forgotten to collect something, perhaps one of team vans at the garage, or what?
“Pegoretti. When are you coming to visit?”

The fog clears and after five minutes of phone chat I promise to visit Dario Pegoretti after the World Championships are done and dusted and my work with the Aussie U23 team is completed.

Cadel wins the big one, Jack wins the U23 time trial, we Aussies were pretty happy. My wife Mary Ann and I have a couple of weeks holiday after, so we book a short stay in a hotel in Caldanozza where Dario has his workshop.

The Cadenzia plot is hatched
The Cadenzia moment. Photo: Llewellyn Custom Bicycles

Dario picks us up after breakfast and we drive to his workshop. He asks me about the new lug project I am thinking of completing when I get home. Nothing unusual about that, but it is 10.30am and a bottle of fine wine comes out! I am working on an OS tube lug set and Dario wants one for XL tubes (double oversize) like my previous 2004 Crescendo lug set but he wants it with a level top tube. The wine lubricates me, which was no doubt his intention, and we start discuss things... and now I am working on two lug projects. Mary Ann recognised the moment and she got up from the table to capture it, thus the three glasses on the table.

So began the Cadenzia lug and Columbus XCr for Lugs tube collaboration between Dario and myself. I am extremely flattered and honoured to have been invited and encouraged into such a collaboration by such a highly recognized frame maker. I could never have imagined such a thing when I started on the frame making journey as a lad many years ago.

Working with Dario was a great experience, both professionally and personally. When one was a bit worn down by work or other circumstances, Dario always had an encouraging message via the phone or email.

Over the years I got to know Dario a wee bit more, and there is not much I need add about his legendary bike frame design and construction reputation. However, I gained a little insight about how much he assisted many people outside and inside the bike industry. He gave a lot of assistance to many who were having a rough journey in life. There was a lot more to Dario than just his marvellous bikes. He was kind, caring and thoughtful.

I am extremely fortunate to have had a wee bit of time with Dario, and Mary Ann and I will always have fond memories of our time with him. I will always remember his grin!

We have lost a good man. We have a lost a friend. We will miss you Dario, but we will always have good stories to recount about you with our friends.

Dario, we are better for having known you, we are better for having you give us your time, attention and encouragement.

Dario, may your files always be sharp, may your weld puddle be perfect and your braze flow sweetly and the vino and formaggio be always close by.