2011-02-11T17:02:42.938-08:00Traveling anywhere in the city is likely to cause even the coolest of Lukes to grow hot with indignation, fear, rage, or the impotent sensation of all three munged up together. Some of the most humorous things I've ever witnessed involved day-glo, neoprene, 17 flashing lights, a car and a lot of hand waving and swerving. But if you've ever been part of one of these encounters, on either end, you can probably attest to how unfunny they are. For the cyclist, you are all-too-aware of how perilous your grip on life is in the midst of all those rapidly moving tons of steel. It takes nothing more than a poorly-timed mirror adjustment or cup-holder-search-for-spare-change to send a car into you. If this isn't always in your mind when riding in the city, it will be soon. Once you've had that first close call you'll join the ranks of trembling, shrill cyclists that scurry about like so many mice running across a trestle between train crossings.
2012-07-18T13:02:13.673-07:00Don't be fooled by the name on the seat tube. Perhaps the previous owner's name was Giovanni, or something. In any case, it's been repainted, and was hard to tell what the frame truly was. Can you figure out the giveaway?
2012-07-18T13:13:37.758-07:00During my regular commute home through the mean streets of a somewhat large city close to Canada, I saw a bike leaning against a tree. Noticing it was unlocked, i naturally slowed to see if it was (a) abandoned and (b) worth claiming. This was certainly both: the MB-1 was the top of the line mountain bike made by Bridgestone, and I would guess this model was from 1993 or 1994. For those with scruples, rest assured I did my due diligence trying to return this obviously stolen and disgarded bike to its rightful owner (While I was immediately suspicious that I was looking at a stolen bike, the 27" wheel forced onto the fork really sealed the deal). However, I was unsuccessful, and thus found myself in an awkward position: I was in possession of a bike I was unwilling to sell (I didn't feel right selling a stolen bike, yes, that was part of it, but also, my covetous nature made me reluctant to part with a bike of such storied lore). And, being unwilling to sell it, I found myself also unable to ride it, since it was far too small (I am similar to this gentleman in height). I can be forgiven for loving this bike. It was hand-built by Tom Ritchey himself, with top-shelf Tange tubes. The components were Shimano Deore LX (drivetrain) and Dia Compe (brakes) with Ritchey wheels (or at least a Ritchey rear wheel, since the front was the aforementioned 27", and it was smashed, likely the reason the hammered joyrider abandoned it in the first place). Splendid Suntour dropouts as well.So what was my elegant solution to this conundrum? Why, I built it up and gave it to my Mum, of course. here it is, fully built:[...]
2012-07-18T15:44:56.555-07:00For all of you out there following the Tired Wheel entries astutely, you will notice that I have skipped over entry number III and proceeded directly to IV. Do not be afraid. Number III is in the hopper and awaiting the upload of some final images, after which prepare to be blown away by a bike that enjoys cult status thanks to the mystique of its enigmatic designer, a man who currently plies his trade in the Bay Area and still makes road bikes with lugs.In the meantime, here is a counterweight to that ugly Mirage I posted previously, a lovely old Motobecane Grand Record built with Reynolds 531 tubes in the days when brazed-on housing and cable guides were out of fashion and the French still hadn't figured out how to paint metal (note the closeup image of the top tube below for evidence).Since it is so French, and I haven't the parts or patience to deal with that, I did not build this bike up, but sold it to a friendly older chap who I can only imagine had some extra time on his hands in between building his own wooden kayak and climbing Mt Rainier.[...]
2012-07-18T15:52:22.824-07:00As you may or may not know, tomorrow is an exciting day in this country, a day when we all gather around the table and get wasted while some poor sucker spends the whole day in the kitchen cooking a meal built around a whole turkey, which everyone knows by now is SO 2008. So in the spirit of the season, I'm inclined to invoke the wrath of Wholesome Defenders of America by saying I would prefer to eat many things to roast turkey. it is neither delicious, nor exciting, not for that matter all that fun to cook. you just sit her in the oven and baster her crisping skin every hour or so, all the while uttering that famous Thanksgiving prayer, "please don't let the turkey be ruined."Being a cyclist, my family has taken a decidedly rebellious and socialist approach to the meal preparations and assigned jobs to individuals -- everyone except Uncle Jeff who will be tasked with Not Burning Down the House and Not Urinating in his Own Pants After too much Booze Again.While I am certain to come in for some criticism from the WDA for being "anti Thanksgiving," I am also setting myself up to be ridiculed for being "not anti Thanksgiving enough" by the more militant faction of the cyclists that see the fact that they ride a bike as an act of civil rebellion against the State. I would simply remind them that I do not hold my cycling to such lofty ideals, and instead have established my cycling image more in the "creating a self-righteous nuisance by riding safely to and from work" camp. but more thoughtful commentary on the "imagery" of cycling can be found at BikeSnobNYC, who is much wittier and more adept at piercing such things and as such i leave it to him.I would like to extend a Thanksgiving greeting to the thrift shop on Mercer Island that found it in the goodness of their hearts to sell my naive father two rather nice, subtly broken bicycles without informing him that they had any problems. The Trek 1100 and Raleigh USA Competition were both pretty cool (and still are, the parts that aren't broken), but are so much more valuable and collectable with the custom dents the thrift shop thoughtfully installed.The trek is blue with yellow lettering (i still don't have a camera and the pic above is the closest thing I could find) and honestly only the rear wheel is shot; I tried to bend back the massive rim dents as described in this Bicycling magazine article and succeeded only in cracking the rim in half. But the nicer Maillard hubs (NOT Helicomatic, fortunately)leave me inclined to rebuild it using an old Wolber Alpine rim I have sitting around. Plus it has a full Suntour Edge group, including an amazing "collabo" between Suntour and Dia Compe. Stay tuned for more on this bike via a Tired Wheel Deal post once it is completed.The Raleigh was the real find, or so it seemed: Reynolds 531 frame tubes with an elegant Tange fork/seat stays/chain stays and original Shimano 600 group. But alas, it had met some large, blunt, brown painted object in a rather rough manner.But I still have much to be thankful for this year. And perhaps the thing I am most thankful for is that i only have to be thankful once a year. [...]
2012-07-18T15:53:12.127-07:00If there is one thing that cyclists are sensitive about, it's the idea that we are probably responsible if and when (and if you ride a lot, it is certainly the latter and not the former). The impression amongst many on the other side of the glass and steel wall seems to be that since we often run red lights or otherwise disobey traffic laws (true) that we are inherently reckless (false) and are probably responsible or at least not entirely innocent in the event of a crash. This general impression is maddening enough for those of us who ride within inches of cars every day, but is even more infuriating when the finger wagging comes from the occassional self-righteous cyclist who doesn't, for whatever reason, run red lights, ride on the wrong side of the street, etc.Here is a perfect example that is two years old and comes from a site that attempts to subvert the uncleverness of its name by intentionally misspelling it:These helmeted wonders answer to no one. With their flashy pieces of aluminum and rubber, they wobble and coast through city traffic like God's gift to the ozone layer. When you're saving as much energy as they are, you're obviously totally free to run red lights, turn in front of oncoming traffic, and knock people's side mirrors around. They know they can ride right along side your car without a care in the world, because if you hit them, you're the careless, SUV driving, ball-scratching gasoline whore. While I am not claiming to be anything but a self-righteous "helmeted wonder", the common perception that cyclists see themselves as swashbuckling outlaws is laughable, and certainly doesn't stand up to simple scrutiny. It is terribly obvious to me that the best way to survive city cycling is to minimize the odds against you -- there is always going to be an element of uncertainty, a variable quantity of madness in the air that, when it reaches critical mass, is going to strike you down no matter how carefully you ride. So when I break a traffic law, it is generally to minimize the chances of an unfriendly encounter with a car (or to get home faster, or to thumb a finger at cars stuck in traffic, or to escape). I don't want to oversimplify this, since of course there is the point to be made that most people who commute by bicycle do so because we are control freaks and don't want to be held captive by the whims of traffic. So we cycle in order to bypass traffic jams, and so that we can leave whenever we want instead of waiting for a bus that will almost certainly be late and full of steamy stinky wool-wrapped-human burritos. But the fact is it is usually safer to ride illegally than legally. By breaking laws, I minimize my risk of death. So it is a calculus I make based on the need to keep my body alive, not my image.So I am naturally predisposed to call bullshit on things like this Treehugger article, which makes a subtle argument along the lines of the commutofascists that will stop at nothing to defend their sacred cow, hybrid cars.The implication seems to be that the "data" is "no good" that shows hybrids hit more people and bikes more frequently than regular autos by virtue of being so quiet. While I don't really have a say in the matter, and am frankly too lazy to read the full study, the casual way in which Treehugger brushes the claims aside, single-minded in its glowing praise of the bepedestaled Prius is similar to the way Sean Hannity doesn't let poor turnout ruin his coverage of crazy-as-Quixote Michelle Bachmann's tea party protest.I don't care who you are, if you refuse to entertain information that lands outside your predefined boundaries, you're a close-minded prig-- a label that applies to most cyclists, unfortunately, as well as the Treehuggers and Sean Hannitys of the world.[...]
2009-08-20T15:02:22.296-07:00If you're looking for Knox's current blog, it's right here at www.knoxgardner.com.