Saturday, September 29, 2012

Keep on truckin'

Given the minuscule number of views so far on my blog, it would be easy to quit, but I am going to keep posting, and maybe something will click and people will read it.

Because of a funny accident I have been off my bike for almost two weeks now, and I miss riding. For close to 40 years, I have been a regular bicycle rider, sometimes just for transportation, a lot for recreation and mental escape, and for a short while, I even rode for money.

I was not a bicycle racer, but rather a bicycle messenger, at the very tail end of the time when a bike messenger who was fast and had a good dispatcher could make decent money.

I was steeped in the bike boom culture at the time when steel bicycles had reached their peak as race vehicles, working in shops pretty much full-time from 1973 to 1986, and seeing the quality of steel frames go from good to "Oh My God." One of the last bicycles I worked on as a full-time mechanic was a Bruce Gordon frame built for show. It was a stunning piece of art, with sculpted lugs that had been polished to a high shine, and just the few miles I managed to sneak in as the final test ride of the build were bliss on the road.

I am back in the business, building wheels and teaching wheelbuilding. I also just look at a lot of bikes. When I compare the best of the vintage era bikes to today's hand-built steel bikes, I realize that the best steel bikes ever built are being built in the United States right now.

If you are at all interested in bicycles, please make it a point to visit one of the frame-builders' shows popping up around the country.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Stop right there, Buddy!

I just put a new set of Tektro R559 dual pivot, long reach brakes on my Raleigh Sports, along with a pair of vintage mountain bike levers. Now the bike actually stops. The stock steel brakes and the weird self-adjusting brake levers made for brakes that were hard to squeeze, tentative to stop and whose reach changed at random depending on how hard I had to squeeze the lever to stop last time.

I have not built the new wheels nor mounted the stainless fenders, but the 650B conversion is slowly coming together. I am waiting to assemble my next spoke order to build the wheels, and when they are done, I will mount the new fenders.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wednesday Wheel Deal (a day late)

Here is a new set of light touring or rough roading wheels, built with some nice Velo Orange stuff: Grand Cru large flange hubs and PBP rims. I used 2.0-1.7-2.0 mm double butted stainless steel Wheelsmith spokes. $300 + actual cost of shipping. Continental US only. earle dot young at tee dee ess dot net. Please post any questions as comments. Thank you.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

First long ride with the aluminum fenders

I expected my Litespeed would ride the same, and it did. But with fenders on the bike, my attitude changed a little. I was no longer on a racing bike, but just a sweet road bike. I found my self charging fewer hills, riding just a little slower and looking around me more, enjoying the ride.

Was it really just the fenders, or am I just generally relaxing more on the bike? Who knows. I can't really tell after just one ride.

At the turning-home point on this ride, I had a young man catch up to me and ask me for directions. I had just turned off Sun Valley Parkway near Paoli, and he wanted to figure out how to get to Lake Farm Park and the bike path there. This turned out to be a great excuse to make my ride go longer. That's what I love about riding in the Madison area. Whenever I get on my bike and head out of town, I almost always end up riding with somebody else.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Short sweet vacation

I flew to Washington D.C. last week to see my father and some old friends. For the first time this season, I was excited about baseball. The Washington Nationals are in first place with deep pitching and power. My father and his longtime companion Sylvia are fans, and a group of us went to a pivotal game against the Cardinals on Sept. 2. We had a great time, watched an exciting game and got to hang out with old friends. This is the best kind of vacation.