I had several mechanical breakdowns with that first speed bike including the Shimano rear derailleur just falling apart out on the highway miles from Missoula. I rigged it so it would stay in one gear and rode 40 or 50 miles like that, but that was the last straw. (I haven't been a big fan of Shimano since actually) I think I was a 7th grader at the time. So my dad took me to Braxton's Bike shop in Missoula and bought me a decent French 10 speed bike. This yellow Stella SX6 10 speed. They supported me in my distance cycling and I think they were worried about my bike breaking down. This bike never let me down.
I had been wanting a Gitane as that was the cool bike to have at the time, but Sam Braxton took a look at me and sold us this Stella instead. I remember I didn't have much choice in the matter. It was yellow though, and yellow was my favorite color, plus it was French and a little more exclusive than a Gitane actually. Braxton said that I'd grow into this bike and it would last me for years. Those words have proven to be true. It fits me perfectly all these years later and is still a pleasure to ride. I think about Sam Braxton every time I ride this bike. There's a little white sticker on the top of the seat tube that says Assembled by Braxton Missoula Montana.
I have made a few changes to it and of course it's not my only bike, but it's pretty much the same as it was. I got a longer stem and new bars. I wore the wheels out and had Dennis Sparrow build a new set way back when. And I mowed lawns for a summer to buy that Stronglight 99 crank at the cost of $75, quite a bit of money for a crank back then. I think Stella was named after the builders wife, but it means star and I like the star in the crank. Notice the old school Christophe toe clips.
That crank has a 45 tooth "small" ring on the fron BTW. That makes Sunny Slope Hill out of Polson a bit of a pull on this bike at the end of a long day.