My personal SILCA story begins in 1990. I was a wannabe junior road racer who had saved for nearly 2 years to buy a racing bike, a blue and white Cannondale with Campagnolo Athena. It took an extra few months to save for the Campag model, but it felt so worth it, it was beautiful. I read every cycling magazine I could find, then got a job at the local shop, joined the local team, did pretty well and soon was attending camps at the Olympic Training Center. In hindsight it was really magical, here I was a kid in the suburbs riding downtown everyday to work in a cool bike shop, learning about things that fascinated me from people who were cool, and I was apparently pretty good at it all. I felt like I had boarded a rocket ship just in time to experience the thing taking off. Since I had blown all my money on bike necessities (bike, shoes, helmet), I had only a cheap Zefal frame pump to inflate my presta valve tires, I needed a floor pump!
And there it was.. It was beautiful, a black and hot-pink SuperPista with a wood handle, it was the ONLY brand our shop carried and it was (screeching halt sound here..) $90. Let's put this in perspective, the MOST expensive bike I had ever seen, or could imagine was a C-Record equipped Colnago Master in our shop for (gasp!) $2700! The thought of this pump costing almost 1/10th of what my racing bike cost, and 3% of what the most expensive bike EVER had cost was outrageous! Fortunately, I had a great mentor, Dan Casebeer, the bike shop owner (Grand Performance in St. Paul), ex-pro cyclist and all around guy we wanted to be, set me straight. He explained that he only carried SILCA floor pumps, as he put it, 'Look, there are only 2 types of pumps: there's this one and there's crap.' I'm not sure how convinced I actually was at the time, but after a few weeks of work, I bought the thing.
A few years later, I was at Junior Nationals with the National Team supported by a wonderful mechanic armed with some really fancy sponsored tools the wildest double barrel, dual direction pumping floor pump I'd ever seen. It was the morning of the Time-Trial and we were all fighting to inflate race wheels, trainer wheels for warming up, etc. when one of the guys literally tears both barrels of this brand new pump, right out of the very fancy, and very plastic base. Panic ensued. Fortunately, back at the hotel I had the SuperPista wedged into my bike case. A short car ride later it was doing duty for the whole team for the rest of the race week, and next time we came back together, that same mechanic had his own shiny new SILCA pump, a white one with blue and red stripes!…it seems that both of us were sold. Over the years, the black and pink SuperPista travelled the world, raced in Europe, did pretty much every event you can think of in the US, Raced to the Sun supported a RAAM team, attended more than a dozen NORBA Nationals and did tech support for dozens and dozens of charity rides. Along the way It received a new leather gasket in Seattle, and a few years later a new rubber head gasket in Madison Wisconsin, for a few dollars it was always amazing to me that it could be made new again.
Fast forward a few years (quite a few it feels like) to today and you'll find the same black and pink SuperPista inflating tires for the whole family. It effortlessly handled the baby trailer, then the double trailer, the trailer bike and now individual bikes for the whole family. My kids love helping dad get the bikes ready, especially pumping the tires, and I think often of the lesson Dan seemed to have in store for me all those years ago.
With a little distance, you realize that the value of something actually has very little to do with price, it is something so much deeper than that. Certain objects seem to earn our affection over time, they work, they are trustworthy, and we grow to appreciate and respect them. I am sure that my 24 year old SuperPista could not be sold to anybody else for very much money, yet the 24 years of continual use and all of the memories and stories I associate with it are priceless to me. Best of all, I just replaced both gaskets and the SuperPista feels new again, even my kids were impressed with how flawlessly it's working as it begins it's next 24 years.
Thanks for listening
The old Black and Pink Pump