a few of the very special bicycles in my life

stable branch

2001 Surly Crosscheck 

The main ride. In its current incarnation it's singlesped 46x16, with full fenders and skinny-ass green Michelin tires. Ultegra crankset, Surly 1x1 hubs front and rear. I have changed the ridiculous spackled bar tape shown above to plain black but added white and yellow reflective tape to the fenders to make it look like a Sesame Street schoolbus. The brakes, Avid Shorty 4 cantis, are the squealingest things ever to stop a bike, even with constant cleaning and sanding of their surfaces. I've given up trying to keep them quiet, and now use them to signal sleepy taximen and passing geese.

Here's a picture of an advertisement:

And more bikes I had or have, unpictured for now but real nonetheless:

1960s? Schwinn Racer "Lowretta Schwinn"

Found next to a PortaPotty in an alley near my apartment. One speed, coaster braked, now outfitted with a gigantic front basket which, when loaded (it can hold two suitcases of beer with room to spare), compromises its stability to an alarming degree. Currently out of commission until I can repair or replace the rear rim, which is utterly untrue and bent and keeps letting the tire off the rim in spectactular explosions that send pedestrains diving for cover. (Since somebody in its past decided to spraypaint the rim silver, the spoke nipples are all glued in place and it's basically unrepairable. I believe that a replacement wheel will soon manifest itself if I persist as assigned in my restless perambulations about the quarter.) Other than that it's a tank and very fun to ride, altho its top speed is about 4 mph.

Update: I found one, but it's a 24" wheel, so now I'm all dropped and shit, eh. $4, Working Bikes, and led to the naming of the bike "Lowretta Schwinn, the Low-Rider's Daughter." Also found a "new" front wheel up on a train viaduct, covered in vines, and just in time too, since the bearings of the former one recently ground themselves into steel jelly. This brings the total value of bike up to about $35.

Recently two old bikes, a woman's Rudge with a weird Depression-era folding baby seat on the back, and a red Pee-Wee Herman style Roadmaster luxury crüzer, both rusty in spots but otherwise in need of little more than new innertubes, have appeared leaned up against the brokedown Schwinn in my shared garage space. I don't know who put them there, but I'm hoping somebody noticed my Appalachian dedication to bikes on blocks and has left them for me like extra kittens at the home of the neighborhood cat lady.

1986 Bianchi "Dyn-o-mite"
12-speed sport tourer. My first kinda grown up bike, which I bought with funds from my job as the busboy at BPO Elks Lodge 461 in Albuquerque. I recovered it from my parents' garage sometime in the mid-'90s after every other bicycle frame I owned failed in a two-year period. Shifting is pretty much the same 12-speed, downtube-mounted setup it came with (the little-renowned Shimano Light Action SIS group) except that it now has an old French front der of some kind. Cheap original brakes have been replaced by nice robust Mafac centerpulls dug from a pile of trash in the basement at Working Bikes, and the long-lost drop bars are replaced by a flat bar I had lying around. For a while I had upside-down 3-speed bars on it, which gave it a cool dive bomber look but made the steering twitchy and terrifying at any kind of speed.

At some point I scraped all the decals off it, so I don't know what model it was anymore and it's just a crappy scratched up black. The Big Plan is to remove all paint, sand the surface, and clearcoat it, leaving a shiny steel surface inpenetrable to the elements, like as if the DeLorean had been made of CroMo instead of stainless steel. I have no idea if this is possible, but I imagine if it is it involves some highly toxic chemicals and a lot of sandpaper. I can only imagine the crappy half assed way I'd do such a job.

There is another bike in there, a fairly recent "comfort" bike with any number of gears and the latest in cheap V-brakes, but I don't really like it and won't talk about it, except to praise its mellow laid-back lowrider style. Someday, with all the extraneous crap stripped off it and the drivetrain reduced to its bare essentials, it will make sombody very relaxed.

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