Saturday, December 29, 2012

Passed a Roadie on my old vintage bike=feel good.

Why passing Roadies on expensive road bikes makes me feel good.

I ride at White Rock Lake trail a lot. White Rock Lake is a lake with a beautiful bicycle and pedestrian trail located in the nicer, upper echelon part of Dallas. It's  an almost ten mile loop around the lake, and can be a good workout if you lap the lake several times, as I do on my old, steel and vintage bicycles.

Today I was on the lake riding along when out of my peripheral vision I saw a Dura Ace crankset and a carbon fork come up next to me as the rider yelled "On your left!". My guess is he was expecting to fly by me and take control of my lane. Under normal circumstances, I abide to these rider's requests with no problem. There was nothing wrong in the way he engaged me, and I actually thought he was polite. But today I had a score to settle with the roadies on the lake. Maybe it's buildup from having so many of them pass me and scoff at me and my bike. Today my legs were good and they were well underneath me, my knees riding parallel to my frame, and I felt they could give a lot more. Today he would take the brunt of my frustrations with roadies.

So I said no to the rider's request. I didn't say no physically, I sped up and didn't let him in my lane. He wasn't going to have it his way today, not with me anyway. As I sped up so did he, and I finally offered him entrance into the lane. He denied, so I went into a full sprint. I didn't see him again until after I had arrived at my car, within 3 minutes of my arrival.  As I left him and he posse of carbon and spandex behind me, I was later told that words were being shouted and hand gestures were raised. That made me feel even better. Perhaps they weren't expecting the surprise that I gave them. Perhaps it was the way I blew them away on 30 pounds of 30 some odd years of steel. Perhaps its because I spent $20 on my bike and spent another $200 in the restoration cost, while they spent about $5,000 each on their "steeds". Today at least that group of roadies got a wake up call. They are not the fastest, most omnipotent things on the lake that can just weave in and out of their constituents without confrontation. 

I attempted a few bicycle races in the past without any success. Road bike racing season here in Texas occurs during the same time of year as the rest of the country, which is flawed reasoning if you ask me. Riding in 105 degree weather isn't my forte. Put me in 41 degree weather and sunny, now we are talking! My robust frame handles the cold much better than the heat. While it's funny to see the cold weather blowing roadies and carbon off the trail like a giant leaf blower, I am usually too anchored down by my old bike and riding with too much momentum to be slowed down by headwind.

Maybe I'm just hating. I don't own any fancy bicycles, and the bikes that I do own are cheap by comparison to these newer, high end bicycles. Having been raised up with little means, I took a disdain early on from the mockery proceeding of the preppy, the opulent, the football jocks, and the aristocratic. Although I have nothing to prove to these people, when I am out doing my sport, they are in my territory. It's safe to say that races can and will happen, whether intentioned of not. Sometimes they initiate, sometimes I do. Sometimes it's just getting behind them and drafting on them for a few minutes. Sometimes it's sprint intervals. Either way, these races are real, and for someone without the means to compete professionally, free of admission and registration. Finish lines aren't drawn, these races are simply to see who will crack first. Once the other guy can't respond to a sprint or an acceleration, you know you've won. You can be king of White Rock Lake for a day, leader of your own general classification. 

I ride all year long, sometimes putting up to 90 miles or more in a week when I am seriously "training" (for no reason as I don't compete). I have ridden on some of the hottest days and on a lot of the coldest ones. Just a few days ago it was snowing here in Texas. As the seasons change I adapt with them. Riding my bicycle is simply my routine. I don't log miles, average speeds or calories anymore. I just make sure that when I ride, I am putting my whole soul into it.  I do it because I want to, and since I have nothing to prove, I believe that makes me more formidable than someone who, say, likes to flaunt their wallet on their bike. 

Maybe one day, if I save up enough, I will get my Cannondale Super Six Hi Mod Team Liquidgas edition road bike, and I will join that special club of high end bicycle elitists known as "the Roadies". Maybe one day, even better, I'll just become a tough-as-nails old rider that can smoke anyone on an old, steel frame. I don't know, I haven't decided which way to go on this. Suggestions?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Road to Valor- "A Must Read" book review

Are you a history buff? Cycling fanatic? Vintage bicycle enthusiast? Or just love an all around good read? Then you have to read the autobiography of the late Gino Bartali Road to Valor- A true story of World War II Italy, the Nazis. and the cyclist who inspired a nation. This is a well written documentation of the life and trials of this famous cyclist, who as it was later discovered, became one of the greatest humanitarians of his time.

The backdrop of this true story is set in pre-war and post war Europe, namely in the agrarian region of Italy known as Tuscany, from which Gino hails from. Tuscany as well as southern Italy can be described as a picturesque,  paradisaical landscape which most of us only dream of seeing, especially in it's pre-war days. The book describes in great detail the rolling hills and lush vineyards that surrounded Bartali's hometown near Florence. But a dark shadow was looming over the country in the early part of the 1920's. With Mussolini in power as the country's dictator, a Fascist presence fully manifested itself during World War II and threatened to rip the country apart. Gino did not give in to the xenophobic demands of his government at the time. Rather, he used his fame and his talents in an underground life saving work. As part of a human rescue mission, he helped Jews fleeing for their lives to obtain false documentation during the Nazi regime, thus leading to hundreds of lives being saved. He would smuggle all these documents in the frame of his bicycle, using what was once his means of livelihood to save lives.

In 1938, Gino was in his prime of fitness. As the war escalated, Italy distanced itself from the Allied Nations. Italy did not partake of the Tour De France after Gino's Tour win in 1938. The Tour was altogether canceled for a number of years during the latter half of the second world war. After the war, Gino emerged a changed man. Having lost his prime racing years and a lot of his fitness during the war, a insurmountable task lay ahead of him, win the Tour De France of 1948. He would have to do this ten years after his first tour win. Despite the odds, Gino Bartali took victory in France in 1948, closing a ten year gap of virtual non-existence on the professional cycling level. He won the race on the mountain stages. He summited up gravel and mud roads in the middle of two freak snowstorms that left his opponents literally frozen. When it was all said and done, Gino won with a mind blowing 21 minute lead over the field, a feat that very few elite cyclists have achieved, even today.

During his racing career, Gino Bartali made many friendships and rivalries. His biggest rival was fellow countryman Fausto Coppi. While Gino was a clean racer, a man devoted to his family, and in his own way a deeply religious man, Fausto Coppi contrasted him in many ways. While many can identify with Fausto Coppi of being the secular champion of Italian cycling, I believe Gino Bartali deserves more merit. His accomplishments go far beyond the world of cycling as his cause was far bigger than himself. I would have to say I personally identify with Gino Bartali on many points, both as a cyclist and as a person. I guess, after reading this book, I am now a Bartaliani (read the book, see the reference).

Final thoughts-Today's cycling scene can greatly benefit from the examples of great cyclists like Gino Bartali and even the way the race was raced back in the day. Today people talk about a  new cycling phenom called gravel grinding. This back then would be simply referred to as ciclismo. There were essentially no paved roads back then, and cyclists rode on vintage steel bikes with cottered cranks. Now that's hard core. I would like to see that in modern times. That would really level out the playing field, and no amount of steroids would be able to compensate for the pure skill and athletic ability one would need to have to do what these great masters did back then.  

 I will end this review with one of the most inspirational quotes that I have read, in Bartali's own words.

"Everyone  in their life has his own particular way of expressing life's purpose-the lawyer his eloquence, the painter his palette, and the man of letters his pen from which quick words of his story flow.

I have my bicycle."

Sunday, December 9, 2012

My Restored Peugeot

My Peugeot Restoration



I Finally found a workaround for uploading photos on this blog, so I won't be starting a new one for now. Here's some updates on my Peugeot UO8 restoration. This bicycle has been repainted and decaled. It was a long and complicated process, I would provide some how to articles on this bike but they would be too entensive and detailed as to what I had to do to restore this bike, especially removing the cottered cranks. I will, at the readers request, provide any information that they would like to know on any specific topic. Hopefully, my next restoration will be less complicated than this one.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pedaling With My Old Man

Riding a bike with my Dad
Family. Never take them for granted while you have them around.
That's your's truly on the far left, with my Dad next to me.

Growing up I would get comparisons from people all the time saying how much I looked like my Dad. "You're the spitting image of your father!" I would hear people say. Growing up I never liked being compared to my Dad. Now I hope I can half his stamina when I get to be his age one day.

His name is Carlos. He's 52 years young and has an affinity for cheap sunglasses. My dad has been a hard worker all his life. He worked in the shipping and receiving department at a pharmaceutical company for over 20 years before being laid off as a result of corporate downsizing and moving the whole plant to Singapore. So now he spends his days going on long walks in the park, up to 14 miles at a time. He is also exercising for his health. He has recently been diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure, a common problem among many Latin Americans, young and old. He keeps his ailments in check by staying active. In his younger days, my dad was a bottomless pit. He could eat an eat and never gain weight. Unlike my Dad, it takes very little for me to put on the pounds. A couple of weeks without continual exercise and  I'm looking at my scale 10 pounds differently. Not my Dad. He was blessed with a high metabolism, which is only recently starting to slow down a little.

Today we went on a 20 mile bike ride around White Rock Lake, in Dallas. The old man kept up pretty well in the 1971 Schwinn Suburban that I lent him. Together we looked like the Dallas chapter of a Puerto Rican Schwinn club. It felt good to stick out like soar thumbs from all the Lycra and carbon that surrounded us. I think we were the only two people on the lake riding old, steel bikes. Anyway, it felt awesome being different in a good way.

Growing up my Dad, my brother and I used to do a lot of outdoor activities together. We would play basketball, go for hikes in the woods, and ride our bikes around town. Now that I am older, I appreciate him even more for still being there for  me and making himself available to go for a bike ride occasionally. As time goes on, loved ones and people that you hold dear start to go their separate ways. It's important that you take the time to show you how much you love that person by spending time with them while they are still around. As I get older I am starting to know my Dad more and more. Although I have known him all my life, I have never known him as an adult. His company comes at times where I could really use a friend and a familiar face. My old man is very appreciated in this point of my life right now, and I am not ashamed to say that.

I would like to do a ride in tribute of my Dad, and to raise awareness for Diabetes and hypertension among Latinos. I am thinking of a ride across the Lone Star State. I am going to need funding and sponsors for this endeavor. If I can get the money together I will be able to do this ride.  I will need to pay a camera crew to document this as a bike film, get navigational equipment and be able to recover the time off work I spend on this venture. If you would like to donate to my cause, check out the link on the sidebar of this blog page. With your donations we can make this happen. I will also be the first Puerto Rican to attempt long distance bicycle touring in the United States. Again, thank you in advance for  your donations to my page.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Winter Projects

The 2013 Lineup of Vintage Bicycle Restorations

Winter Projects to keep me busy this winter and into next year

As a self tribute to my bicycle restoration career, I have purchased the next four bicycles I plan to restore and permanently own in my stable. Each bicycle will be a labor of love and will take considerable amount of time to restore to their former glory. When they are finished they will be showroom worthy and some will be very valuable. Here's the lineup of bicycles I have set aside to work on this winter.

The first bicycle I have in mind to restore is this 1970's Peugeot UO8 touring bike. I comes equipped with Mafac "Racer" brakes, cottered cranks and a rear rack, which I may or may not replace. This will be my first project tackling french dimensions on a bike. I have found replacement decals on eBay for this bike, so I definitely plan to get it powder coated in a forest green or cream finish. The decals they sell are adhesive vinyl and can stick to the powder coat finish. I plan to remove all the rust and high polish all the chrome pieces. Once finished this bicycle will be the envy of all retro-grouches that gaze upon it. It will look like it was pulled out of a 1950's french post card. 

 Next on my to do list of bicycle restorations is this Raleigh Tourist DL-1 roadster bicycle, made circa 1976. This bicycle will realistically take me at least six months to buy and replace all the parts for. I got it at a bike swap for $50 dollars along with some other random parts and accessories. For anyone who knows anything about these bicycles this is an extremely rare find in the U.S. This bike features a 3 speed Sturmey Archer internal rear hub and rod lever brakes. It also comes with westwood style rims, although in this case I purchased this bicycle with the original front rim having been replaced. I plan to cut no corners on the restoration process, as correctly restored bicycles like this one can obtain a value of over $1,000 if sold to the right buyer. Although like I said, I don't have any plans to sell it. If anyone has one like this and has restored one already, please drop me a line in the comments section with tips and where I can find parts for one.

Anyone recognize the bicycle above? This is a 1979 Schwinn Le Tour, the same exact model and size I restored and powder coated yellow. This is the same bicycle that is featured in the heading on my blog. It's also in almost the exact same condition as the last Schwinn Le Tour that I restored. Surface rust has seized the bicycle on the outside. I am not too concerned though, as I have tackled projects in much worse shape. I love the way these steel frames ride. Once fixed up and dialed in these bicycles can keep of with a pack of Sunday bicyclists on much newer bicycles. They also make comfortable touring and randonneuring machines, as readers of my blog already know.

Last but not least is this circa 1982-1983 Peugeot PH10s road bike. This bike comes in pretty light at 25lbs and can probably be set up to run a 7 or 8 speed freewheel or cassette. Which begs to question whether I should do a full modern upgrade on this bike, brifters and all. I am definitely contemplating a metallic powder coat finish on this bike. I could also do a period correct restoration and see if I'll be able to reuse the simplex derailleurs, which are plastic, and the wheels, which are missing spokes. The all chrome fork has a big gash on it, possibly from being leaned against something or some heavy piece of industrial equipment falling on it. This bike will be sitting in my garage until I can figure which will be the most appropriate way to restore it. I will say this, however, that once restored this bicycle will be fast. 

All of these bicycles are tailored to my size, and I feel very fortunate to have run across them. Funding for these projects is pretty low right now, so this undertaking may be on hiatus for a little while. But stay tuned for a lot of how to articles, with new information that other sources may not have. 

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

The simple life- As it pertains to cycling

Living simple in the wake of corporate downsizing, and
how this relates to cycling

In the past week, the greedy, inhumane actions of some major corporations have left tens of thousands of people without work. In my area alone, one major technologies employer laid off 200 of it's employees, among them even some of my friends. Many are once again hitting the job trail trying to figure out if they can afford their current lifestyle or if they will have to lose it all and start over.

There are many theories as to why so many companies have been laying off, cutting full time hours and benefits from their employees. Fear over the introduction of a national health care bill, a "fiscal cliff" which is probably bad news for rich guys getting tax breaks, and even college educated Puerto Ricans (like me) that are starting to catch on about taxation without representation, and finally wanting to do something about it in their commonwealth are all current events some say have encouraged corporate downsizing.

Whatever the reasons for the job losses, these actions are wrong and whatever goes around comes around. I hope any pompous jerk who's laid off a bunch of people and is reading this takes that into heart. In the end, we need companies that can invest in their workers and in the economy of this country. So if you're going to high  tail it to Asia for the cheap labor then don't bother coming back. Take your goods over there as well and figure out how to sell them. Companies that keep making their employees suffer aren't getting away with much this time. People are used to being unemployed or underemployed, so they'll deal with it. In return these companies are basically falling on their own swords so to speak.

"Keep it simple" has been my mantra since 2008, when the economic crisis hit and I was fired two days after returning from my honeymoon. I had to learn how to hustle and teach myself to not have such lofty standards when it came to work. In the time it's taken me to get back on my feet I have worked as  a photographer, bicycle mechanic, sign installer, and even built furniture on call of an office once. I have also worked in  the medical field for two years reading and interpreting electrocardiograms. All this in only four years. I just did what I had to do. Let me tell you it's been a blast and an adventure at the same time.

Many young couples and young people who live on their own acquire debt. This can come in the form of student loans, car payments, or expensive housing. When I was in my early 20's, the loft lifestyle became popular. My roommate and I bought a futon, and we would spend a lot of time browsing the IKEA catalog for more contemporary furniture to dress our apartment with.

Still, our rent was low and we could afford it. I have personally witnessed many young people who find a nice paying job, move to the fancy, "arts district" side of town, ornate their lofts in IKEA furniture and buy a brand new car without even having worked at the job for a year. They do all this only to get the pink slip later. Then they are pulling hairs out trying to figure out what to do. 

Again, I say keep it simple. Buy a car in cash or buy it used, if it's even necessary to own a car. If you live two miles from your grocery store, your gym, your church, a bike lane- do you even need a car? I don't think so. Ride a bicycle instead. That will save  you potentially $800 a month in travel related expenses. Riding a bike is not for poor people. Its for smart people that keep it simple.  There is also the added side benefit of getting in shape and getting to avoid all those doctors visits later. More money in your pocket my friends.

A savings account is the best credit line you can have. If you deposit $50 a week into a savings account, you will have enough to fly to Germany in six months. Trust me, I have done it myself. Ever have a low balance on your account? Just transfer some money from your savings. No need to ask anyone for a bailout. There are some people who just aren't able to save anything. That's understandable, but for if times get better a savings account is the way to go.

Without complicating this issue of deep thought too much, I hope this article serves as a encouragement for those who have recently lost their jobs. To those of you who have lost your job I would like to say this; grow your local economy. I have yet to see a grocer in my residential area. If someone started a small chain of grocery stores that targeted residential neighborhoods, they would hit the jack pot. Zoning laws are outdated and are designed around suburban sprawl, time to do away with those too. Maritime, cabotage trade laws that prohibit exports from U. S territories have to end. For those of you who are unemployed and are visionaries, there is still a lot of options left and a lot of  untapped markets or markets that don't even exist yet. It's up to you to make it happen. Hustle my friends, and don't be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get some dirt underneath your fingernails.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bicycles for Sale

Bicycles for Sale

I am selling a few bikes on eBay, in hopes that with a few bikes sold a few more come along and I can start a web based business. I will admit this blog is more than just a rant site or a source of do-it-yourself bicycle advice. I have had a side hobby selling bikes for sometime now and I would like to take things to the next step.  Here's a couple of bicycles that I am currently selling on eBay.

A custom cruiser can cost a pretty penny. Some custom cruiser companies may charge over six hundred dollars on a custom like the cruiser pictured above. For a couple of hundred dollars less and free shipping, this one of a kind custom cruiser with lime green accents can be yours for $450. Check out my eBay link for more information. Click here.

I am also selling this 80's Puch Pursuit road bike in it's unrestored state fully functioning and ready to ride. This bike comes with alloy 700c wheels and downtube indexed shifting. Check out my eBay link for more information. Click here.

Are you a tall rider and having difficulty finding a bicycle your size? Here's a great commuter bicycle that will fit a rider 6'2" and up. It's a 1980 Schwinn World Tourist. It comes with fenders, a 5 speed transmission, and working lights and dynamo generator. Fully serviced and ready to ride. Check it out on eBay. Free shipping in all intercontinental United States. Here's the link.

Here's a bicycle that is sure to bring out your vintage side. This is a late 50's to early 60's middleweight cruiser. Comes with a Pletscher  kickstand not featured on the photo. Frame measures about 18 inches. $220 local sale in the Dallas/Fort Worth area only.

All these bicycles will arrive disassembled and will  have to be re-assembled upon receiving them.  Ebay links will expire in 10 days, but I will post updates on the "Buy a Vintage Bicycle" page,  which will now be replacing the "Buy a Klunker" page (I think most people weren't getting the reference to the title anyway). 

Support my authorship, buy a bike, donate to my blog or just click on my ads and sponsors. I'm just a regular guy trying to hustle like everyone else. The "Bicycle Adventurers" page is also soon to change, being replaced with an index for more direct navigating of this site. You will now be able to access the articles you are directly interested in reading.  Thank you for your support, donorship, patronage and your subscription.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Countryside, Man-struation, and jogging 7 miles

Current Happenings as of late
A Series of short stories that are sure to make you laugh out loud. Probably.

The countryside is a beautiful place out here in Texas. No matter what part of the state you live in, if you get out into the rural parts, you are transported into a different world. If you wake up early enough you can see the morning fog rolling through the hillsides, misting the air and leaving a sparkle on the grass blades covered in dew drops. You get to see pinto horses running in the fields or huddled around their calves protecting their young. Old red barns seem to appear out of nowhere as a reminder that you really are in the middle of nowhere sometimes. Riding a bike in the countryside can be a wonderful experience. I feel reinvigorated after rides such as these, because I get to appreciate the wonders of creation and nature in it's different times and seasons. 

What I don't like, are the dogs. I am not a big fan of dogs, especially the small wimpy dogs. They give me allergies, but aside from that I was never allowed to have a dog growing up, so I don't have much fondness or patience for them. Dogs tend to run astray on country roads, which can make for a really great story when you happen to run into a pack of them on one of your bike rides. This is exactly what happened to me. My 2007 Raleigh Sport has had the same chain on it for more than five years and over 3,000 miles of usage. I recently took it out of the bike and cleaned it in some degreaser, then re-greased the chain thinking that it would run my gears smoothly and improve my shifting. Last week on an early morning bike ride my chain met it's end in the worst of places. I was going up a slightly steep hill when a pack of about six dogs started chasing me from the other side of their fence. The dogs were big dogs with clean, white fur and looked like gentle, playful creatures. Not feeling in any danger whatsoever I whistled to them and started to charge up the hill. Out of nowhere one of the dogs gets out of the fence and starts running after me, teethed exposed with a foaming mouth. This was a medium sized dog, and unlike the other dogs across the fence, this dog had matted brown and grey fur and a disheveled appearance. My guess is that it could have been a stray that hung out with the other dogs and found a way to get in and out of the fence. It went after me as I powered up the hill, gearing down and putting everything I had on the pedals. Just as I cleared the top of the hill I heard a loud "snap!", and lost all the pressure in my legs. I still managed to cruise 40 feet away from the growling dog behind me. When I looked down at my bike I realized my chain was gone. The dog was standing over it, panting and barking loudly, covering the chain in it's foamy drool. I stood my ground and stared it down so it wouldn't come any closer. Then I slowly started to walk away.

I called for my wife but she was conked out in bed. After all it was 8am on a Saturday. I walked to a main road where a good Samaritan saw me and gave me a lift to my house on his pickup. I was four miles away from home, but had things to do that day, and was saved from having to walk that distance in my clipless shoes. I now have a greater appreciation for women in stilettos though.

Lately I have been on my Man-period. This is what my wife likes to call it. I have been busier than usual and have not had very good opportunities to go ride my bike. I have been riding at the crack of dawn or during rush hour traffic. That coupled with having to drive long distances to do certain errands tends to put me in a very grouchy mood. I have also not been eating well. I have gotten a little lazy about putting healthy food in my system, often eating the remaining leftovers of my toddler's corn dog. My pants aren't feeling right, and my self awareness doesn't help. I'm not one of those dudes that can let that slide for too long. When I get put in a position where there is seemingly little of nothing I can do about it, it rubs me the wrong way. More about my menstrual cycle later, let me tell you what I tried to do yesterday as a result of feeling this way.

So a couple of buddies of mine go running six miles every Monday. They don't jog and walk six miles, they run six miles, from start to finish. When I was younger in my pre-cycling days six miles was a cake walk for me. I would run non-stop for over 3 hours at a time. So I decided I would give it a try. 

The first three miles or so went okay. I was trailing them but still had them in my sight. I thought I was doing pretty good for someone who hadn't run in a really long time. I then started to feel a pain in my chest, then on my side, then on my back. With every stride I felt like someone was tugging me at the stomach and yanking on my love handles. It was a very uncomfortable feeling, I was tired and out of breath, so I decided to walk instead. My friends kept going, running past me like a pair of graceful antelope that dodged a hungry but old lion. They would zig-zag through light posts and around buildings, running into me occasionally after they went around the block, then running off all giddy and full of pep.  Eventually I lost sight of them altogether. I was left in a part of town I new nothing about and it was getting dark. I took a street and ran on it as far as I could, hoping to see something familiar. I stopped at a cigar shop and called my wife. I was surrounded by a bunch of old, stinky men playing poker with a "what the hell" look on their face. It was awkward to be the only person in the building with short-shorts, just saying. I told my wife that I was okay, that I didn't have my cell phone on me and I told her the next few streets I was going to head out on in case anyone tried to contact her. "You're going to look stupid if they have to come pick you up", she said. That's exactly what happened. Walking along the street a car stopped behind me and honked their horn. It was David, one of the friends I was running with. By the time David had picked me up, I had run all around Addison and into the neighboring city nearby and back. I was discovered about two hours later after my friends were done with their run. David gave me a ride back to my car then I went home.

The next day I felt as if someone had been kicking me non-stop in the lower back all night. As I got up I looked like an old fart walking around the house. This is what happens when you try to do the same thing you used to do years ago, only with 30 pounds of extra weight on top. I thought cycling kept me fit enough to hang with these guys, but it was they that taught me a lesson. I think I will stick to riding my bike because at least I can get up the next day after a bike ride.

I hope these tales were amusing and a distraction from my normal writing topics.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Vintage Find- Antique Bike of Unknown Origin

Vintage Find: Great Old Bicycle

Sometimes some of my restorations don't come with labels, and the bikes are so old that they may not be even aesthetically identifiable.  One such find is this antique bike of unknown origin, which I picked up from a scrapper for next to nothing. I think it might be an old Spaceliner, as well as a bike that originally once had a rectangular or oval headbadge. I date this bicycle from the late 50's to early 60's. It's origins can be traced back to Oregon, which was the state it was registered in on it's original bicycle license.

I took this partially seized bike and went to work on it. I did a full restoration on this bike while keeping all of it's original components except for the chain, pedals, and handlebars. I clear coated over some of the patina to preserve it as well as to prevent further rusting of the exposed metal. This bicycle looks very rustic and has a lot of personality. Just look at this picture I took of it leaned up against my workbench!

 Its also a very comfortable ride. I didn't suffer going uphill on this bike like I would on an old Schwinn cruiser. This bicycle doesn't have a lot in the way of collectivity or prestige. It's just a great old bicycle. Its very utilitarian for things like campus commuting or running short distance errands. I could even go as far as to say you could regularly commute on it, because it comes equipped with fenders for those rainy days.

Stay tuned for more of my vintage restoration pieces.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What to do about those pesky headbadges?

Advice for reinstalling riveted headbadges

The picture above says it all. Use crazy glue or the generic equivalent. Riveted headbadges, once removed, can be impossible to find screws or rivets for. That doesn't mean that they are junk by any means. There are very beautiful and valuable headbadges that once reattached to the bike can also add more value to that bicycle. Take for instance that red and silver Peugeot headbadge (top left of picture). That badge is so pretty you can put a wire through it on one side and sell it as an earring. But since I'm not in the jewelery business, I'll just stick that piece of bling back on the bicycle where it belongs.

Removing these headbadges requires the use of tiny drill bits, a slow drill setting, and a steady hand. As you drill the hole out of the rivet, use slightly larger bits until the rivet pops off. If there are any metal shavings left on the frame holes, these can come off with a Flathead screwdriver. Removing the headbadge is easy, the harder part is putting it back on.

The easiest and least headache inducing solution is using crazy glue. This is the one that I recommend, the solution over all others. Simply apply a thin layer of crazy glue on the backside of the headbadge. Line the holes on the headbadge to the holes on the frame, then press down hard and hold the badge in place for a few minutes. Make sure to stick the headbadge on a clean surface, hopefully a frame that has been powder coated. After that, you're done. The badge should stay one the frame for the remainder of it's life (or until you decide to pry it off with a crowbar, whichever one comes first).

There are other ways you can go about reinstalling a riveted headbadge if you are one of those anal-retentive types. Schwinn headbadges use 2mm x 4mm sheet metal screws. Double sided tape is another alternative I have heard even restoration services will use on their headbadges. And if you are one of those "purest" bicycle restorers, you could buy a rivet gun and even some 2mm rivets online. Crazy glue works just as well if not better than the aforementioned alternatives.

So there it is, how to remove and reinstall riveted headbadges. Here is just another tool to add to your arsenal of knowledge. Instead of selling those beauties on eBay or wearing them as earrings, you now can use them for what they were originally intended for. Bicycle emblems. Subscribe and stay tuned for more how to articles and restoration tips. Feel free to leave your questions and I will do my best to answer them.

Ye Olde Bike Shop

My New Workspace

This is actually organized for me.
A couple of weeks ago one of my neighbors was having a yard sale and selling all of his tools and workbenches. I snagged this nifty workbench from him for $30. Instead of having all my tools thrown about the place or having to dig around a tool bag to find a crank puller I now have a peg board where I can have all my tools on display when I need them. 

Ooh, Organized!

Henceforth, welcome to the new headquarters of A Bicycle's Point of View! It may be a small and humble office (for now, and this is about as close to an office as I'll ever get) but great innovations tend to come from small spaces. From now on I'll be like a Geppetto bicycle mechanic bringing old, neglected Pinocchio bicycles back to life! Stay tuned for more innovations from my humble workspace.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Back to the 80's- My "Maglia Rosa" Custom Road bike

Lately I have had 80's thoughts. "What are 80's thoughts?" One might ask. It's when you suddenly catch yourself listening to Duran Duran and liking  it. Or humming in your head Electric Blue by Icehouse. Or maybe you catch yourself on YouTube watching a rerun of a Lemond/Fignon duel in 89' where those guys blasted through wet cobblestone roads at 50mph without the benefit of helmets. It could also be looking up 80's color schemes on bicycles.

One could say all these things comprise 80's thoughts. Lately I have been inspired by the crazy neons, hot pinks, and Celeste greens that were on many of the top of the line bikes of back in the day. I was born in the middle of that decade, and have always thought what a cool decade that would have been to live in. It was the golden age for cycling, an era lugged frames were pushed to their technological maximum in the racing world. Then came carbon, clip-less pedals, and chamois Butt-r cream. As you know, the rest is history.

I took this era appropriate 1977 Takara 731 model as the source of my project. It had belonged to an older lady's brother and I was able to talk her down into letting me have it for $20. As with many of these projects, parts were seized by rust and there were times I feared I had reached a dead end. However, with a little torque and some WD-40, I was able to disassemble the bike, powdercoat the frame, acid bath the chrome parts, and voila! A 1980's themed custom road bike.

Some modifications that I did were actually ordering some new-old stock brakes and levers that were top of the line for back in their day.  These center pull brakes have quick release levers on them for accommodating knobbier and fattier 27" tires. Here's a couple of pictures of the new braking system for this bike.

Shimano 600 non aero brake levers were the best of their kind.

Dura Ace Center Pulls with quick release on top. I never knew quick release was ever an option on center pull brakes.

 I replaced the original wheels with some Weinmann alloys with quick release skewers. I overhauled the bottom bracket replacing the cup and cone with a sealed bearing bracket.  I swapped the original five speed freewheel with cleaner looking 6 speed, which fit without any modification to the frame.

The result was a slightly heavy but nimble frame made to flex and take the abuses of the road. This bike is a winner for any retro fan or modern day hipster. If you are man enough to ride pink, this bike is for you. After all, some of the manliest of men ride in the Giro D' Italia, and the leader wears the pink jersey. Hence the name of this custom is my "Maglia Rosa" bike, Italian for pink jersey. I have already featured my "maillot jaune" Schwinn bike, for those of you who are following my articles. Check out some of my other customs on my "transform your klunker" segment of my page. If you are interested in a custom restored bicycle, and live in Texas (sorry, I don't ship bicycles. That's what eBay is for) you can contact me for a quote on restoration or if  you would like to buy one of my customs on sale, you may also contact me. Subscribe and stay tuned for more on my latest bicycle restoration projects.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Coming full Circle- Being a well rounded cyclist

My Cycling Journey- And why its important to be balanced.

All my life I have been riding my bike. Since I was fifteen, I have always found a special passion for riding my bike as far as I could pedal it. During the evolution of my cycling I have gone through several different types of bicycles and now mainly ride road bikes and adult mountain bikes. Sometimes I would ride out of choice, other times out of necessity. 

Since I was a junior in high school, I have made different attempts at commuting by bicycle. Even though I graduated high school early and I could barely say I commuted at all, it set the precedent for my personal outlook as a cyclist today. In my early 20's, I was practically car-less for almost a year. I commuted from my shared apartment to a pharmacy I worked at by either walking or for when I had to arrive early, by bicycle. I used the same bicycle I had in high school. I was a "ghost" cyclist back then, meaning (A) cheap department store mountain bike (B) used the sidewalk instead of the road. This lasted until one morning when someone stole my bicycle from in front of my apartment.

About a year later I bought my first road bike. This was a big jump in quality from the Mongoose DH 2.5 I had previously owned. For the first time I knew how it felt to go over 20mph on a bike. I tackled hills and challenged myself riding longer distances every time I rode. Pretty soon I was well acquainted with the area I lived in by bicycle. I learned how to ride on the roads and share the lane with cars. My weekend rides consisted of 30 mile loops which I mostly rode solo. While other roadies were subscribing to the local group rides and buying into all the carbon fiber and Lycra, I mashed my toe clip pedals against headwinds on my aluminum Raleigh. This has given me the endurance I have today, even though I will now sometimes ride my bike with clip-less shoes and dawn on my spandex. But that is not how I started riding, and I think for that I am a much better rider today.

There is the one constant that has seldom changed since my early days of cycling. The solitude. When I was younger my twin brother, Dad and I would go on long bicycle rides. I have always enjoyed having others around to share in my passion. The challenge of cycling is usually enough to keep my mind occupied and forget that its an activity that I have little or nothing in common with my peers, friends and family members. Sometimes I will put the baby seat on the back of my old Schwinn and pack the family for a  trail ride. These trips are fun and I do take a lot of joy out of them. Being as I am a more advanced cyclist, I have to keep pace with the family where I would normally let the throttle loose on the concrete paths. This is the compromise, the price to pay for having other people who will want to ride their bikes with me.

Which leads me to second guessing myself sometimes. Am I being excessive in my cycling or are others just not riding enough? Then I think to myself "Oh yeah, my brother's in the Navy, Dad lives an hour away (by car) and is in his mid 50's. Mom always has some new illness to contend with". How about my friends from childhood? Nowhere to be seen. My best friend passed away from an aggressive brain tumor a few years ago. With no reference of my formative years, with nothing familiar or close to home to hold on to, I am left to brave this new and hostile world called adulthood. Like a Don Quixote of cycling, except without a portly Sancho Panza to keep me company. Sometimes I long for that little, fat, man-servant domestique figure to say "Here I am! Let's do a ride this week, I need to lose weight!".

Life is about finding that sweet spot, that perfect center, that zen. When you've found it along with some peace of mind it's like a fountain of wisdom. You've become a sage. It's about learning how to finally let go of those artificial ambitions, like, "I'm going to get sponsored by a bike shop and become an amateur racer!" Or, "I  gotta get that $10,000 bike. That will get me to the Tour De France for sure!". A well rounded cyclist just rides. There is a lot he or she may or may not have to contend with, but the answer is always the same, just ride. Having others to ride with helps, but if no one is around then stop calling yourself a freak for wanting to ride. Just ride. If you can't afford a Guru triathlon bike but have that Schwinn 10 speed getting dust in your garage, take the beater out for a spin. I promise you will feel a lot better afterwards. Don't have a cycling computer? Just ride. You don't need numbers to gauge how well you exercised. That's what sweat and tears are for. 

Balance priorities, family being number one no matter what the circumstances. Ride your bike everywhere in between. Nothing wrong with that as long as you have your bases covered.

Just Ride.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book Review- My take on Bike Snob NYC

Afterthoughts on my latest Read: Bike Snob NYC

When not building or restoring bicycles, riding bicycles or ranting about any bicycle related topics, or when my toddler keeps me from venturing into the outdoors and I'm stuck at home with a case of severe cabin fever,  sometimes I read. Although not an active reader (the last book I read from cover to cover for purely recreational reasons was six years ago) I sometimes will indulge in this very fleeting and occasional hobby.

So let's discuss my latest read Bike Snob by self acclaimed bike snob, Eben Weiss.  This book is a must have and should be on every dedicated cyclist's bookshelf. It's a book that cyclists and non-cyclists alike can enjoy and take something out of. 

This book starts out with a timeline narrative of the introduction of cycling and it's rise to fame in the late 19th century. Eben Weiss attempts to follow a bike route recommended  by a newspaper from that era, only to find that the picturesque landscapes and finely paved country roads have been replaced by the hustle and bustle of a modern New York City. Weiss points out that even though the landscape has changed that New York still holds the frame of what it once was.

Bike Snob invites us to look inside ourselves as cyclists and characterizes the different groups of cyclists out there and why they like or distrust one another. For example, according to Bike Snob's classifications I'm somewhere between a righteous cyclist and a retro-grouch. That is to say that I care about the environment enough to ride my bike and like mostly vintage bicycles. Not that I take any extreme sides; I'm also a cross between a roadie, mountain biker and a lone wolf. Triathletes are triple agents who clandestinely go in and out the cycling world and ride their bikes without socks, seldom trusted in the cycling community, as Weiss cleverly points out. 

Bike Snob also relates his views on the way cycling is marketed and perceived by non-cyclists. Weiss shows the folly of upgrading your commuter bike just to have it stolen later. He recounts his own experience with bike theft, having his Cannondale road bike stolen as a bike messenger. He pimp slaps all those who obsessive compulsively clean every detail of their precious bicycles while neglecting their ride time, or being too afraid to ride their bikes in harsh environments (Still, I'll take riding my bike in the winter time in NYC than a hot 105 degree afternoon in Texas).

I found this book very informational and a useful tool to explain to others why I'm such a bike-obsessed freak. Rather than rationalizing with others about my views on cycling, I can just pull out this book and let them borrow it for a week as reference material (provided they return it and not peel off the bumper stickers on the back page). 

Stay tuned for more book reviews as I follow up with The Enlightened Cyclist, the sequel of Bike Snob and other cycling books.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Visit to Mellow Johnny's

 Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop
Austin, Texas

It's no secret that I am a big fan of Lance Armstrong. I had an opportunity to drop by his bike shop yesterday while passing through Austin. This bike shop is more than just a bike shop; it's a monument to cycling. In fact, it should probably be considered one of the seven cycling wonders of the world, if there was such a thing. 
Bike shop, museum, cafe and training center, what doesn't this bike shop have? Along the walls and ceilings of the shop you can see bikes that were used in the Tour De France as well as pictures of the man himself, Lance Armstrong. There are also many vintage wonders that will have you geeking out as you walk around this bike shop. Here's a couple of pictures I took while on my visit.
Lance is everywhere you look around this bike shop.

A new old-school creation. This style is starting to have a huge following.

A 1970's concept that featured wooden wheels. Crazy huh?

Something cool to send vintage bike collectors into sensory overload
 I saw bikes in this shop that I haven't even heard of yet. Some of the cool urban style utilitarian bikes that I saw were made by CVLN and Public Bicycles. They also had a broad selection of many high end bicycle manufacturers, such as Santa Cruz and of course, Trek.

In conclusion I believe every fan of cycling should make the pilgrimage out to Austin and pay a visit of Mellow Johnny's. My visit only consisted of a few minutes, but I will definitely have to come back to Austin and see what this city is about. On a Sunday afternoon I saw more cyclists on the roads in Austin than in any other bike friendly destination I have been to date. There is something about Austin that is really worth coming back to.Stay tuned as I explore more destinations for the bicycle enthusiast.

Monday, August 27, 2012

How to Restore a Bicycle- Part 4: The finished product

Enjoying the fruits of your labor-The fiinished product

I finally got finished with this bicycle restoration. After months of waiting on parts I was finally able to put it together and, here it is. There are a couple of alterations that I had to make from the original state of the bike. The bicycle is now a single speed. The rear Atom hub and rim were so rusted that they were impossible to salvage. The same goes for the front rim and springer fork.

I am very happy with the end result. There is no better feeling in the world than to see something to the finish, in this case, the retoration of this bicycle. Here's a couple of more photos of the newly restored Schwinn cruiser.

Stay tuned for more restorations and tips on how to restore your old bike.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Premium Rush- Movie Review


If you do want to know what happened in the movie or already saw the movie, feel free to read right on ahead. I went into this movie with no expectations, and what I received in return was a genuinely good time. 

This movie's plot goes back and forth between different times of the day, and flashes back and then flashes forward. If you are not paying attention, it's easy to get lost in the plot. For those who pay attention the movie reveals clues as to what happens in succession. 

Wylie, a New York City bike messenger, picks up a package of little apparent value, but it's significance is worth a lot of money on the black market streets. Nima, a hard working grad student on a student visa from China, has made a deal with the Chinese mob to get her son from China into the US. The mob will grant her son gets passage into the U.S and gives Nima a "ticket" or a receipt with high value, that she will need to present as proof that she has paid the ransom price to get her son into the U.S.

This "ticket" is the cause for all the drama in this film. Wylie is assigned to deliver this ticket and runs into a corrupt cop who wishes to steal the ticket and exchange it for it's value on the streets. This dirty detective is into some money problems with the Chinese mafia and has the murder of one of their gang members on his hands. Hoping to steal the ticket to get out of his problems with the mob, this cop intercepts Wylie and a chase ensues. 

This movie accurately portrays the New York bike messenger community as well as the hipster subculture that is prevalent in the Northeast United States. It does make a point that being a messenger is a low paid job considering the high risks involved, and that those who do it are in it for more than the money. I really enjoyed the stunts in the movie, most which where not digitally modified. There was even a cameo appearance of Squid the bike messenger, a local legend that is said to the the best real life bike messenger in New York City.

It also brings into life rivalries that exist in real life among the cycling community. Manny, Wylie's rival in the movie, owns a high end carbon fiber road bike, and demeans Wylie for riding on his old, steel single speed bike with no brakes. Wylie proves to Manny that it's not about the bike more than it is the engine when he races Manny head to head in a race through Central Park. Wylie blows by a group of older cyclists in a cycling club that ride on their very expensive bicycles, acknowledging them as he passes by. Despite the bike snobbery at the beginning, this movie shows that cyclists of all types can come together and put their differences aside for the greater good.

Bike snobbery is a common issue that tends to divide the cycling community. If cyclists of all types, commuter and recreational, were to embrace each other on the road, this would facilitate a given area to become more bike friendly. Just a thought (ahem..Dallas politics), just sayin'. 

Although the plot line in this movie is very similar to Quicksilver, I enjoyed the plot more than the 80's Kevin Bacon acted film. Premium rush is a movie that captures urban cycling for what it is in the 21st century. The dangers and the high risk environment that the cyclists experience might be over-hyped, but there are also real life scenarios and subcultures that this movie brings to light. Check it out, go watch it if you haven't already, and make sure to let me know what you think afterwords.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Premium Rush- Good or Bad for the Cycling Community?

Premium Rush- How does this make us look?

Okay, okay, before anyone thinks I am going to do a negative preview about the only cycling movie in the last two decades, let me just start out stating that isn't the case. I am actually eager to see this movie when it does arrive in theaters. This movie gives us something to think about. There are cyclists of all types: recreational, commuter, and even bicycle messengers. Yet this is the only movie that has come out in a long time that will portray an image to the public about cyclists on the streets. Are they responsible, law abiding people that just choose an alternate mode of transportation? Or are they reckless, suicidal daredevils that will put their lives as well as other peoples lives at risk?

I'm all for a little bit of blockbuster action and scenes where the cyclist maneuvers themselves out of dangerous situations and shows expert bicycle handling skills being put to use. But in all honesty, that doesn't represent all cyclists, not even bike messengers. Some messengers take risks and they end up in hospitals or worse, that is a fact I hope they bring to light in this film.  Just like the Fast and Furious movies brought with them a cult following of souped up street racers, this might also have the same effect on young teenagers or adults just looking for the next big adrenaline rush.  It might raise the sales of single speed or fixed gear bikes with bull horns or tiny four inch handlebars. If people start to act on the reckless behavior of the messengers in this film, this might make things harder for regular vehicular cyclists just trying to get around on the road. Drivers might be more aggressive towards cyclists and cities will not want to support measures to make roads more bike friendly.

It might also have a positive effect. It might bring fresh blood into the cycling market and make cycling cool and attractive to a younger audience. It could raise awareness for cycling and increase ridership, even if it's out of a faddish, in the moment reasoning. Many dedicated cyclists have gotten into it because they thought it was cool. Many baby boomers started cycling in the 70's and 80's when movies like Breaking Away and American Flyers came out. Movies have the power to make something interesting and appealing to a lot of people. They also have the power to portray something negatively to a massive audience. There is much left to be seen, and I can't wait till it comes out in theaters.

Here's a short movie trailer for Premium Rush. 

There are many local cycling groups and organizations that will ride their bicycles to the screening of this film. I hope that the promoters are doing what's in the best interest of cycling and the cycling community. I would have liked to see a movie about bicycle racing or even bicycle touring, like The Motorcycle Diaries but on a bicycle. This is my two cents. Consider this another one of my bike rants.

What do you think about this movie? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.