Sunday, February 13, 2011

Small touches

I must be running out of changes to make to my bicycles.  I got pretty excited this week about the success of a truly tiny project.

Some time ago, I bought stainless steel frame pumps from Sunlite.  The pumps very nicely approximate the original pumps that came on Raleigh Superbes and Sports and make a handsome addition to other bikes as well.  Besides, with these in place, I don't have to stuff a pump into a saddle bag or try to remember which bike has the pump mounted on it before I set off to the office.

For the Raleigh's, attaching the pump is too simple.  There are brazed-on pump pegs on the down tubes and that's that.  For the Schwinns and the 10-speeds, however, there are no pegs.  The pumps come with black plastic straps that have a peg fitting, and these do the job pretty well.  They are not, however, terribly pretty.

So, I picked up a pair of cast-off clamp-style pegs from Mike at Vintage Bicycle Supply.  In a moment of inspiration, I painted them metallic gold first.  This took them from dingy steel to sparkly gold, which matches the details of the Corsaro perfectly.  It also made the tiny "made in France" engraving vivid and readable.

After some consternation trying to mount them on the seat tube, it occurred to me that not all tubing is of the same diameter.  They fit perfectly on the top tube and the Corsaro has a distinctly unique, new look.

Don't try to read it here... my photography will give you a migraine.  But it's there and it's clear and it's cool.

Like I said, sometimes it's the small things that provide a bit of excitement in a quiet week.

Cool finds part two

I rode across town to Fiona's basketball tournament on a route that took me through midtown.  Outside Mulvaney's B&L, a fine restaurant, was this smiling chef with the main course.

The unlucky but delicious looking little fellow is the main course for a 50th birthday bash planned for Siobhan, who doesn't look a day over 40. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Interesting finds by bicycle

It's been said many times before, but traveling by bicycle is likely the best way to discover interesting attractions or mini-spectacles.  On foot, there the slow pace of the journey often makes even small detours impractical.  That promising country road you encounter is usually too long to investigate properly if you're going to get where you're going.  In a car, the opposite phenomenon takes hold: you're usually passing things too quickly to get a sense of why they might be interesting to take a closer look.  By the time you see the country road or the estate sale sign or the bird-vs.-squirrel drama, you're already past it.

Last week, a kite (the living kind, not the kind on a string) kindly held his spot in the air, hovering, until I had cycled almost directly underneath him.  Then, he tucked his wings and plunged into the brush not 15 feet from the bike path.  He emerged with what I would have to guess was a very surprised field mouse in his talons and flapped off to his treetop home. 

You don't get that kind of show in a car.

Slightly less dramatic but still fulfilling were two encounters in recent days.  The first came on a chilly ride to Winters, past fields and farms and orchards.  Not far off the main road, workers were pruning the walnut (?) trees and making huge bonfires from the cuttings.  Cycling a quarter mile or so to get a closer view was easy and fun.  The fire felt great on a cold day and the smell made me think of simpler times when we all burned our leaves in the autumn.  If there's a better smell than wood burning in an open field on a chilly day, I don't know what it is.

Closer to home, a neighbor had placed the cuttings from his/her dogwood (or maybe cherry?) tree on the street for pickup.  The smell was gorgeous and enjoyable even cycling past at a good clip.  On the way home, I decided to stop and load up on a few branches to put in a vase at home. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A confession

I'm a wind wimp.

There.  I said it.  It feels better to get it out in the open.

I didn't ride today because it was too windy.  The sun in shining, the temperature is comfortably in the 60s, and there isn't a cloud in the sky, yet I'm not riding.  To be fair, though, there isn't a cloud in the sky because the damn things have been blown to the other side of the globe by these ridiculous winds.

They're allegedly 25-35 mph.  It feels like more from time to time, but I suppose that's a pretty accurate number.  All I know is the trees in my yard look like they're doing toe-touches -- wild, sweeping bends from vertical to near-horizontal, over and over again.

As soon as I heard the winds last night, I pretty much wrote off riding today.  See the first sentence above. Earlier this week, when the spring winds were merely mild distractions on glorious 74-degree days, I had already rediscovered my lack of tolerance for cycling in windy conditions.

I'm pretty much fine with cycling in the rain.  In fact, once I get going, I kind of like it.  We haven't had really cold temperatures this winter, but cold riding doesn't bother me too much either.  Even our scorching summer heat is tolerable when riding, as the self-created breeze cools you off until you stop, when you can usually jump into a shower or swimming pool.

But wind, for some reason, unleashes my inner psycho.  There's something about the invisibility of it, I think, that makes it seem unfair and kind of jerk-like.  I know, crazy, huh?  All I know is that when I pedal against the wind all the way to work along the river and then find it in my face again on the way home, I get beyond irked.

So, in the interests of my peace of mind and of harmony in the universe, I'm going to enjoy the wind from my balcony of the home office today.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The trifecta of bike nerdiness

It's recumbent.  It folds.  It's a trike.

I think if you buy this, you also get a leather-bound edition of Shelby Foote's history of the Civil War, a lifetime subscription to NPR ("Now With Even More Self-Satisfied Chortles Per Hour of Broadcasting!"), and the right to use the side door at the co-op.