I haven’t made a journal entry in a while, in large part because of my recent close acquaintanceship with planes and trains. Nearly my entire summer has been traveling to someplace, returning from someplace, or simply being someplace other than where I’d prefer to actually be. I’ve found this to be particularly frustrating for a variety of reasons. For one thing, it’s been incredibly difficult to maintain my commitment to the daily nutritional regimen that I follow to moderate my Diabetes. Along with that, getting anything remotely like the exercise to which I’m accustomed has been seriously compromised. And to my chagrin, the results from my six month check up reflect how negatively all of this extensive travel seems to have been for me, goddammit. So, goodbye planes and trains; goodbye chocolate and carbs, goddammit again, and a big welcome back to the comfort and regularity that a meal-by-meal, daily regimen of nutrition and exercise holds for me.
I crave riding, and I feel like I’m starting up from scratch. The other evening was beautiful, a perfect opportunity for something I haven’t done in a while: a night ride. I like how the most memorable riding seems to just happen. Serendipity. In this case, I didn’t set out with any intentions in mind, other than a short ten-miler. My legs, which felt sluggish at first, began to respond a couple of miles down the road and I thought what the hell, let’s make it twenty. Passing through the countryside, I noticed others were of similar disposition: aviation enthusiasts were playing with their vintage aircraft at a small, private airstrip. A tri-plane was in the air, circling the area, as was a WWII fighter and a tiny personal aircraft. On the ground, their muffled voices and laughter carrying over the field and to the road, the group was polishing chrome parts, lounging in lawn chairs, and drinking beer.
The few opportunities I’ve had to ride recently have mostly been astride lightweight vintage speed bikes and I’ve been neglecting my main ride, the Boulder Brevet. On this occasion I’d left the Lycra in a heap, pulled on a cycling cap, ugly plaid shorts and a nasty green t-shirt before heading out for a moderately slow ride. The next thing I knew, I was miles from home and the sky had turned an intensely deep, dark indigo. My lights illuminating the road, I pedaled onward.
Riding gives me a chance to think and ponder. It’s often cathartic for me, quite frankly. If I have a project I’m working on, the act of riding may help me to consider how best to prioritize my actions, determine the series of steps I need to take, or puzzle my way through a process. All this in my mind, before taking any actual action.
I thought about the bikes I’ve been tinkering around with when the opportunity has presented itself. My Holdsworth Professional came to mind, for instance. I’d finally come around to the decision to make a few modifications that more closely acknowledged this bike’s heritage. The bars were replaced with model Cinelli 64-42 and a matching stem. Importantly, the angle was also adjusted to more comfortably meet my need to ride in the drops. The interrupters I’d placed on the bars – a wild hair, I’ll admit – were replaced with Dia-Compe road levers. I pulled the vintage brown Brooks Professional and in it’s place there is now a NOS black Brooks Pro. While I was at it, I figured I might as well replace the cables and housing… and while I was at that, I got rid of the butt ugly brown cork tape in lieu of black Tressostar cotton handlebar wrap. I really do like the feel of cloth wrap much better than the fake cork stuff – plus, it just looks right.
The fact of the matter is that I love the feel of cotton wrap on Cinelli bars. I was so pleased with how the Holdsworth bars turned out that I next turned my attention to my 1972 Paramount. A couple of rolls of fresh yellow Velox Tressostar seemed just the ticket, and I like how nicely it pairs up with the paint. The frame and fork originally came to me in rough condition and in true Frankenstein fashion I hung every conceivable working part on her during “the build.” A couple of mornings back I got up early and before heading into my office I trued up a very pretty NOS set of Maillard-hubbed wheels and hung an equally NOS 13-26 five-speed freewheel on the rear. Later on, after I got back home again, I added rubber and replaced the round stuff I’d had on the bike with shiny new wheels and 27 x 1 ¼” Paselas. I have one more NOS black Brooks Professional saddle in the wings that will probably find its way onto this bike, along with some period correct Campy NR derailleurs. The changers are currently in the throes of a final clean up. Those 105 levers, so far from being period correct, just work so damn well with the Weinmann center pulls (which, for the record, I have managed to adjust perfectly.) They’ll probably remain in place for a while. Those tires are cushy and comfortable, although disconcertingly close to the bottom of the rear brake. I’d sure like to see a few millimeters more clear air between tire and brake.
I began to think about how lucky I’ve been. The bikes I have to choose from for each ride are quite nice, and fit quite well. Each meets a different purpose and I can select one based upon whatever whim strikes me at the time. In the studio are a lot of boxes in which parts I’ve collected are stored. As I often do, I mentally shuffled through those stores, pondering which items I really ought to part with and which I really need to keep (because, of course, you never know how I’m going to build up the next bike. This n+1 thing is really quite insidious.)
I did manage to part ways with several items at our annual vintage bicycle swap meet. Of course, I also managed to bring some other equally interesting bits and pieces back home with me as well, so I was thinking that I hadn’t so much gotten rid of anything as I had simply displaced them.
Turning down the road leading to my house I realized I was returning hours later than I’d planned. Ah! But it really was a beautiful evening for a night ride.