old steel, always so nice . . .
many folks have asked me, "reverend, what bike did you select for the
cranksgiving race? and what factors did you consider when making the
decision to ride the bike that ultimately was chosen?
and how much air did you run in those tires? are they REALLY thirty years old?
well, first of all, thanks for your support. if it hadn't been for all
you loyal fans and readers, i wouldn't have been able to finish 8th yesterday.
for saturday's fundraiser for the food bank of iowa, i went deep in
my stable. i wanted a bike that has been tested by the fires of experience
and has withstood the test of time, a bike that would take me
through backyards, rocky alleys, over curbs, through muddy driveways,
and not cause excessive wear and tear on me, and yet i needed a bike
that would be nimble, responsive, and quick to start, and fast to stop.
i needed a bike that could cut in and out of traffic,
that could lay a patch of vintage rubber when i hit the coaster brake.
plus, i needed a bike with baskets.
i chose my early 50s red schwinn road rocket with springer fork.
the exact gear selection will remain proprietary, but you can see that
it's big enough to give me top end, yet small enough for me to pull away
from those fancy dandies on the longer climbs around the drake and
ingersoll areas. the bike is equipped with the original messenger
springer saddle, wide-fitting bars [which allow me a great acceleration
position, yet let me close in for time-trialing] with silver glitter schwinn
handgrips. no fenders, no chainguard, no headtube badge.
the front wheel is from a late-30s/early 40s hawthorne cruiser.
i love the special lacing pattern hawthorne gave their front wheels.
it's just me, i guess. the bike has gussets for newsboy baskets, so
on they went. i fitted toyota united cowbells for each basket, which
allowed me to issue warnings to motorists and other racers
without the need to resort to yelling, which would rob me of life-giving
oxygen. the tires, new old stock schwinn tires, were purchased
at michael's cyclery in ames in the mid-80s. they were older than dirt
then, and have been aging in my basement tire humidor since then.
i raced on 50 pounds pressure in these puppies, and the damned
bike road like a truck. stiff, responsive, quick and agile like my
borzoi/greyhound amelia, and if you've seen her run, cut, and leap,
then you'll know why i was supremely confident at the beginning of
yesterday's race. seriously, all you kids with your fancy 20 year-old
fixies and single speeds, keep those bikes . . .
they'll serve you well in 30 years, if you just let them.
ace mechanic extrordinaire fry guy delivered my latest recycled bike, seen above. it was a late 60s 3-speed racer [it even says so on the chain guard] that i wanted to convert to a fixed gear. i found it on the curb down the street a few years back, no saddle or seat post, but it DID have a very cool am radio headlight on the handlebars. couldn't be saved, though. it now has 1974 campy highflange 36-spoke hubs laced traditionally 3-cross for stiffness [can you feel it?] and 165 mm shimano cranks, and the original rear brake caliper. the original fenders and chainguard have been retained, so i can play lawyer with it, or ride it to weddings that i perform, without getting all greasy and shit. the original handlebars [note the desirable patina] have been flipped, and the result is a fit that is nearly identical to my race fit. i love the blue handgrips. i found a blue sparkle schwinn race saddle on eBay that tops it off perfectly. you'll see me on this bike tomorrow at zanzibar's at 530 for our monday night training ride.
and speaking of old steel . . .
and speaking of old steel . . .
old steel: it's old real!