Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A New One on the Way

Well, new to me, that is. Since reading Sheldon Brown's page extolling the virtues of the Raleigh Twenty and finding others, like Tarik, I have coveted one. So last night, tooling around on eBay, I found one with a $49 bid on it and an early morning ending time. I looked before leaving for work this morning and after calculating freight, put in a bid that I found comfortable. These things have been going for $200 - 300. I got to work and did a few chores, then checked my email. To my shock and excitement, I won. Now I get the fun of making it work for me.

The appeal of these bikes, I find, is the "hackability" of them. Certainly, there are lighter, more advanced folders out there now but Bike Fridays and Dahons and Airnimals don't take on so readily the personalities and whims of their owners.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Doesn't take a Lot.

We visited my family last week in North Carolina. The weather was pleasant and we relaxed. I didn't have any particular agenda, other than to relax and recharge my batteries before the holiday season.
We managed to get in a bike ride although we didn't take our bikes. My sister-in-law has a Schwinn, which we chose for her from Bikes and Trikes a couple years ago. My parents have a pair of Pinnacle bikes, 15 speeds, which I suppose would get me kicked off the BOB list for riding them. Maybe not, they have crowned forks and are steel, gaspipe steel, but steel. Nothing special, they have the cheap stamped brakes that make me cringe.

It's been awhile since my parents rode. When I tested the bikes, I realized why. The run up the driveway would tax the Polka Dot Jersey winner, much less a couple in their late sixties. Dad's bike wasn't able to shift out of the small chain ring, or more precisely, stay there once shifted, making the severe incline that much more difficult.

So, we went off on Saturday, loading 5 bikes in John's Honda Odyssey to Todd. 2 for the boys, aged 6 and 9, and one each for Laurie and I and my brother John. Starting around 2 in the afternoon, we rode until 5, the younger of the boys going with waning enthusiasm, as the ride on a single speed BMX style bike wore on him. Sammy did well though and recovered quickly once in the van, particularly after his father purchased him a set of novelty teeth.

When riding someone else's bike, I remarked later to Laurie, I begin making mental notes of what I'd do to make it work better, usually a set of Albatross bars. She felt the same way about the borrowed bike she had.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Democracy Now and Thoughts

Last weekend, I went to see Amy Goodman from Democracy Now speak, along with her brother David at a benefit for KKFI, my favorite local radio station. They have just published a book called Static I also attended a potluck, pre-show, for the Planned Parenthood of South Dakota at a friends house.

As we have sold our truck recently and are going "car-lite" I rode the 4.7 miles on my bike, carrying the cheese and crackers I was assigned as an appetizer in my basket. Laurie was going to a party out south so I didn't have the car available. No big deal for me and to get to the show from Trudy's, I was able to throw my bike into another friend's Toyota Highlander and ride over. I wouldn't have had a problem riding over but she offered so I accepted. I find it amazing how many folks think it's a major deal to ride a few miles on a bicycle, not for exercise but for transportation.

What I found a little more disturbing was that I was the only bicycle there at Community Christian Church unless there's a bicycle rack in the back somewhere. For all the rhetoric, facts, about America selling our collective souls for oil, everyone there was feeding the beast which we say that we're seeking to slay.


Amsterdam, the city of bicycles, pictures of which I have yet to massively load to Flickr or otherwise edit. But this was done in 73 minutes.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Not suffering enough, I guess.

I was coming home from work on Friday afternoon through Mission Hills and noticed a long line of cars parked along Indian Lane, one bearing a license plate marked "Senator". Traffic along State Line Road was bumper to bumper and I made my way across State Line Road and through the Carriage Club parking lot. Ward Parkway was blocked off so I walked my bike across to the median and I was whistled over by a cop.

"Where you headed?"

"Just trying to get home."

"Well, I can't have you going that way. The President's going to be rolling through in a bit."

So I carried my bike across the Parking Lot that was Ward Parkway leading to State Line Road and onto the campus of Pembroke Hill.

Some driver asked me, "What's going on?"

"The President"

"(a bunch of curses)"

"Haven't we suffered enough?"

Turns out it was a fundraiser for Jim Talent, a Missouri Senator and stooge of the Religious Right, in Mission Hills, Kansas. Go figure.

I know, the President rides a bike. Just wish he'd been riding one at that moment, somewhere else than on my way home. Laurie's plane was delayed coming in while Air Force One was taking off. Who's working for who here, anyway?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What does it take?

This week I have yet to ride my bike. It is, of course, only Tuesday, but I feel as if I betrayed something by driving to work twice this week. With my wife out of town, I hate to make the dogs wait an extra hour.

At the Greater Kansas City Bicycle Federation of late, we've been discussing "appropriate" transportation. There is, in Eugene, Oregon, a Center for Appropriate Transport. We don't seem to have that sort of mentality here in Kansas City. Or it's not visible, as it is in Chicago. Are we more spread out than other cities?

The hip quotient of cycling in Kansas City consists of these sort of groups:
Racer types, in spandex and Team Kit (Replica of the TDF jerseys)
Messenger outlaw types, riding in jeans, rolled up at the ankle, worn Chuck Taylors and ironic T-shirts.

Where are the regular riders, people riding not specifically for fitness, but for transportation? The people who I see in other cities, like in Amsterdam, as seen here with a group of folks or rather their bicycles parked in front of the Museum of Sex, IIRC.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Cargo Bike, Car Go!

Would that it was quite so simple but almost 2 months ago I put the Wald Giant Delivery Basket on Stella. Since then, I carry my messenger bag almost daily, a few occasions bags of dog food (40 and 20 pounds), a 12 and 6 pack of beer, 2-6 packs plus picnic fixings and a gallon of water and a melon. It's very stable and it makes the bike mega-friendly.

A Sacrifice to the Gods of Petrol

I've been thinking a great deal about the automobile this summer, with preparing to sell our truck, "An Inconvenient Truth" (Laurie and I rode our bikes to the theater to see it.) and now, 3 cyclists killed by drivers. We seem willing to accept an inordinate amount of collateral damage in order to keep driving.

The death of Audrey Lindvall seems metaphorical in this context. A young beauty is killed by a fuel truck. As Americans, we are willing to sacrifice the most precious parts of, well, America, to maintain our way of life. We send our young people to die in the desert. Our children suffer from an epidemic of asthma and obesity. We lose our sense of community, our humanity, just so we can keep driving.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

In preparation for going "Car-Lite"

Here is the final version of the trailer, inspected by our good friend Kenneth Walker.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Bad News

As I rode home tonight, this was happening. Someone that I might know, someone who might have ridden with me the other night, gone now.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Another one on the Road

So I have the nickname of the "Bike Angel" at work now. A couple weeks ago, Owen came to me or told me as I went through his register that he bought a bike for $5 at a garage sale in Sioux Falls. I told him to bring it by and I'd see if could make it work for him.

Everything was in good working order except the tires which were dry rotted and nearly illegible to ascertain the size, all the gum sidewalls having been eroded by age. I finally determined that they were 26 by 1 3/8 or 590 BSD, which was fortuitous as I had just rebuilt a "Made in England" Huffy which turned out to have been screwed up beyond my repair skills (another post). So I put it up on the rack and took off the wheels. They worked fine on the Rangor. I could only find that this company also made a line of superhero bikes but it has a lugged frame and a nice color so it should make a decent bike. All Owen wants it for is to run errands and get to work. The 590 or 650A is a good tire size, time-honored on English 3-Speeds.

So, I put on some nice Weinmann Centerpull Brakes with new brake levers and a set of riser handlebars and seat I had in the parts stash and the bike is reborn.

It seems much friendlier now, more useful as a city bike for commuting and trips to the grocery store.

Monday, May 22, 2006

LA Gets It.

Not in our paper here in KC, but we did have a record number of folks in the Bike Commuter Challenge or what might henceforth, be called, the Car-Free Commuter Challenge.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Ride of Silence

The only thing worse than politics is church politics, or so my father conveyed to me, at least, indirectly. It is "Bike to Work Week" and we are beset by so much baggage that I often forget why we do it. How do these institutions arise so quickly?

It's like this to me: I have to work. I have to get there. I try to do so with the least amount of expense and strain. A great deal of the time that is to ride my bike there. In a day filled with "I-need-this-yesterday" and "Can-you-squeeze-this-in?", my bicycle time is an oasis of sanity. So I ride, a fixed-gear` because it offers the fewest complications.

And here it comes, teams, and calculations and riding-the-bus-counts and walking-counts-but-half-the-mileage and we-need-prizes and I'm-not-getting-enough-recognition and then, I put my ass on the saddle and move my feet up and down on the pedals and everything is all right. I am riding.

And we get together to remember those who were killed while riding their bicycles. A simple good thing we do and someone dies for it. Robert Osborn, murdered for sport, riding home from work. Jake Clough, missed a stop sign. Andre Anderson, run down by some remorseless asswipe. Toni Sena, as good a person as I would ever hope to meet, killed by some jerk chased by the police. We have to organize to remember them, or it just adds up in the rolls of the dead, the senseless killings we can't seem to remember, for there are so many that only the families can remember. Yet, we must remember and do more, make the roads better, take a stand for cycling. A simple good thing that we do and love, complicated by politics and governments, distracted by special interests and
wars and hunger and all we want to do is be on the road, unmolested, quiet, at peace with ourselves and the sound of our gears turning.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

In which yet another follows me home.

My garage is bursting at the seams. Well, not quite but between the garden tools and so forth, it's quite full. So we went to the MS150 Bike Fair on Saturday and I found yet another bicycle for only $25.

I don't know what tubing was used in building this but it has some wonderful details. Long pointed lugs, heart shaped cable stop guides.(Is that what these things are called?)

I'll work on the brakes and replace the tires so it might be awhile. Further bulletins as events warrant.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Ready for Travel

A month or so ago, I bought a pair of rigid Raleigh Mountain bikes for $60.00. One of them went to a co-worker as his commuter bike, his only bike, in fact. One of my goals is to get as many other people riding to work as possible and Charlie says he'll use it to ride to work, to church and the coffee shop.

The other bike, I decided to keep, at least for awhile. We're planning a European trip this summer and I wanted a bike that I could ride over there and sell on the way out. With approximately $50 invested in it, I can take it over there, not worry about bike theft. (Very prevalent in Amsterdam, where we're headed first.) Of course, I also love tinkering on bikes.

One of my thoughts, last summer in Chicago, while riding my brother-in-law's old Specialized HardRock, was that this bike was a great city rider, if only it had a set of Albatross Bars. The straight mountain bike bars just weren't comfortable for all day riding. The Raleigh M-60 has comparable geometry, tons of braze-ons for racks and great clearance for fenders and huge tires. We had a set of smooth Panaracer 26 by 1.5" tires we got as door prizes from the KCBC banquet.

Just changing the tires delighted me. The fat smooth tires just made me smile when I put them on the bike. I took it to Acme along with the other one and found a set of used Wald upright bars, which I installed upside down. I had also cut and filed off the shifter pods off the brake levers and replaced them with thumb shifters.

Things got even more interesting when I found an abandoned AMF Nimble 3-speed along the road. It had fenders, a chainguard, and a set of upright handlebars. I've added them to the bike for free fenders and they do coordinate nicely with the champagne gold of the bike frame.

The bike has assumed a new personality. I may hate to leave it in Europe.

Monday, March 13, 2006


After a long week at work, I wanted nothing more than to get back to work on the bike, where I couldn't get the shifters to perform properly. So, I rode off to Acme again for some assistance. I corraled Sarah on her way in and got some much-needed assistance. The derailleur cage was bent. The shifters were assembled backwards. Thanks be to Karma that they had another set just like them as a reference. And then Sarah discovered the rear hub needed a rebuild. So I got to learn about rebuild a hub, taking out all the bearings, degreasing the interior and wiping it down, degreasing the bearings and wiping them all down, putting in a new batch of clean grease and putting it all back together. We reinstalled the rear derailleur and got it all going.

I rode it home to tape the bars and complete the Azuki project and found I couldn't shift into the big ring so I started tinkering with the front derailleur and broke the screw that holds down the cable. So this time, I loaded into the truck and took it back to Acme where Mis Chief found another front derailleur for $5 that works just fine. She showed me how to set it with the high and low limit screws.

Now it has really nice Serfas tires. I cut down the bars and removed the suicide levers. The seat came from a Raleigh Mountain Mike I bought from Craigslist and I'll take to the Low Countries this summer. But that's another project.

Stella, as she is now.

Rather spectacular, I must say. Actually, I'm amazed at how much fun it is to ride this bike. I love carrying stuff in the basket from work.

Here's my filthy homemade burrito wrap from dropping the chain and having to dig out my 15MM wrench a couple times. In the fall, I'm going to install a new bottom bracket with square axles and shorter cranks that will accept clipless pedals and a single chainring, perhaps one a little smaller. Until that time, I have the chainring cobbled together with nuts and bolts and I'll ride along.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Latest Reclamation Project

Here we go. I picked this one up last Friday from a County employee in Leavenworth, who met Laurie at a regional meeting, noticed her Nishiki (which I need to put on here) and offered her this one. It's an Azuki rather than a Nishiki but it has the twin lats and lugs and it seems nicely made. It needed a new set of tires, rim tape and tubes.

I cut down the handlebars after a consultation with Mis Chief and I'm lubing the hell out of everything that moves right now. The chain is starting to move. More pictures as we go.