A teenage Jim Kruse with his Bernard Hinault-era Gitane in 1982. Courtesy Jim Kruse
Indiana bicycle enthusiast Jim Kruse is so enamoured with steel bicycles, he launched a Men of Steel Racing club to foster the nostalgia. Now he's partnering with the USA CRITS Championship Series to attract other like-minded 'luddites'.
"Men of Steel Racing (MOS) was created to provide a platform for steel frame-only criterium racing," Kruse told Bikeradar. "I hope that after people see them back on the course, they will be encouraged to get their old bikes off the wall, or out of the attic or basement. I also hope MOS Racing will bring out the great riders that I looked up to in the past.
"It's also my intention to shine the spotlight on the custom frame builders we are so lucky to have in the U.S."
Kruse got reconnected with steel last year when he was able to buy back the Pogliaghi he raced as a 13-year-old in the early 1980s.
"Like most people, I had forgotten what it was like after riding carbon for our local team," he added. "The next step was simple: I just started asking if anyone still had their steel racing bikes and the answer was almost always 'yes.' Even though they had not ridden it in years, they couldn't part with it because it was like an old friend.
"My goal is not to stem the tide of carbon," Kruse said. "It's to promote the use of steel, both new and old. I think someday they can again compete side by side."
According to Kruse, Men of Steel Racing was not originally planned to be a club. However, from the responses that he's received, it may turn out to be one. He's in the process of setting up a national club as well as a local MOS Racing Team, with the goal to compete in Masters races around the Midwest on steel frames.
As was his wish, members of MOS Racing have dusted off classic steel bikess, including Gios Torinos, DeRosas, Coppis, Pogliaghis, Masis, Chesinis, and Merckxs.
"The races associated with the USA CRITS Championship Series will be limited to 50 participants," he added. "These are some of the biggest races in the country and will probably be the only chance for the owners of bikes like ours to be seen in front of big crowds.
"We will be looking at the types of bikes as part of the entry requirement."