We first met Guy Stone at the 2021 Philly Bike Expo where he was showing a personal New Trix singlespeed hardtail from his then-nascent custom framebuilding operation Relstone Cycles. Guy is a full-time accountant and part-time fabricator with an out-of-the-box approach to building bicycles. As a side project to his side project, he builds one bike per year for a veteran in collaboration with his local VA in Chillicothe, OH, and a list of generous brand sponsors. For this week’s reader’s ride, Guy shares his most recent Project VA build: a custom Rollin Stone road bike with a great backstory. Let’s check it out below!
Project VA is my vision to use my bike-building gift to support Veterans who find peace on two wheels. As a civilian, I do not know what it means to go to war. However, as a lifelong cyclist, I do understand the therapeutic benefits of a simple bike ride. I refer to the peace I feel while riding as my Happy Place. The goal of Project VA is to build custom bikes for Veterans so they can find their own Happy Place where they are at peace. I just finished the second of what I hope will be many, and I have made a personal commitment to sponsor a Veteran every year for as long as I can. This project will never reach large numbers of Veterans, but for those sponsored, it has the potential to have a big impact on their life.
This year’s recipient is Darvin. Darvin is a Marine and an all-around great guy. I know him from my local bike path along the banks of the Great Miami River. If it is a nice day, it is likely that Darvin will be out enjoying the views along the river on his bike. It is so good to stop and talk to Darvin. So willing to share the history of the area, and stories of his service in the Marines. A few years ago, I noticed that Darvin was having a mechanical issue on the trail. I stopped to help, but his old bike’s components were just worn out. I am so honored that years later Darvin allowed me to be the builder of his dream bike. This year-long experience will be something that both of us will never forget.
Darvin requested a road bike for his favorite route along the river. He wanted something comfortable with an upright riding position. Full fenders are a must because a little rain isn’t going to stop Darvin. Darvin was involved in every part of the design of his bike. He even stopped by the Relstone Cycles Garage to roll the radius in his top tube. Together we came up with a design that fit Darvin perfectly. When it came time to choose the paint Darvin pointed to a Sram component box I had laying around. Dark Matter Finishing matched the matte grey with subtle red highlights better than what we imagined.
A big part of Project VA is sharing my vision with contacts in the bike industry to see if they are willing to sponsor a Veteran’s bike with the materials and components they make. This not only helps me to make sure the recipient has the best complete bike for their needs, but it also gives others the opportunity to have a part in Project VA. This year’s sponsors include: Kenda (tires), Pacenti (rims), Kirk Pacenti (stainless form crown), Columbus and Metal Guru (frame and fork tubing), SRAM (XPLR drivetrain and dropper), Velo Orange (components and accessories), Scott Payne (photography), and West Chester Cyclery (assembly).
Frame highlights include a fully lugged silver brazed Columbus SL and Zona frame. The top tube is curved to allow for maximum stand over and a taller head tube for an upright position. The fork features a Pacenti stainless crown, slender raked blades for comfort and double eyelets to allow for twin fender stays. An off the shelf stem wouldn’t do, so I brazed Darvin a matching lugged stem.
Component highlights include custom wheels built by me with shiny Pecenti rims, tubeless Kenda tires and Velo Orange hubs. The drivetrain is Sram Rival XPLR. Brakes are Velo Orange long-reach calipers. Velo Orange also provided fenders and other accessories. Darvin’s bike also features a Sram wireless dropper post to easily get on, get off, and to stop.
On Darvin’s first ride, he commented that it climbed, accelerated and fit much better than his old bike. Also, as a retired machinist, Darvin has appreciation for the craftmanship and time it takes to go from a vision to functional art with sharp silver brazed lug lines. Darvin loves the smoothness of shifting and braking. Most importantly, Darvin had a great custom bike experience over the course of a year and received the bike of his dreams to enjoy.
I feel so honored to have the opportunity to build this bike for a Veteran and an awesome person. I hope it provides many years of peace and enjoyment in Darvin’s Happy Place along the banks of the Great Miami River.
We’d like to thank all of you who submitted Readers Rides builds to be shared here at The Radavist. The response has been incredible and we have so many to share over the next few months. Feel free to submit your bike, listing details, components, and other information. You can also include a portrait of yourself with your bike and your Instagram account! Please, shoot landscape-orientation photos, not portrait. Thanks!