Friday, December 19, 2014

From the Library: Collecting and Restoring Antique Bicycles

Not that I ever envision a scenario in which one of the many hundreds of bicycles covered in this book would ever find its way to my work stand but...

This book was such a find that there was never the least bit of hesitation to purchase it. With chapters coving the Hobby Horse (1817-1821), the Boneshaker (1865-1871), the Ordinary (1871-1892), the High Wheel Safety (1876-1891), the Solid Tire Safety (1885-1894), the Pneumatic Tire Safety (1892-1900), and the Post 1900 Safeties, very few of us will ever own (let alone witness one being ridden), collect or restore one of these bicycles. So, while there may not be a more practical application, there is so much information enclosed within the front and back covers, to make this book an invaluable historical research tool. 

Nearly every page set includes a photograph, engraving, or sketch of the bicycles themselves, one of their many component parts, or accoutrements, such as olde time cycling clothes. As you might expect some of the illustrations depict two-wheelers that are truly weird by today's standards, yet with design elements that are clear precursors to many of today's standard features - suspension (the Columbia Spring Fork from 1889), the use of bamboo (1897), removable chain ring (Columbia 1895). And then there are others that make you wonder how their idea ever sold.

The book ends with an appendix - nearly fifty pages - listing 2100 American brands, the company that manufactured or distributed them, their location, and date of first notice, before 1918. Who knew there were so many dating to those earliest years? This book may have been geared toward the collector, but I see it as an invaluable resource for anyone interested in bicycle history and mechanics.

Adams, G. Donald   Collecting and Restoring Antique Bicycles   Orchard Park, NY: Pedaling History, the Burgwardt Bicycle Museum, 1996

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How to Wear a Cycling Cap: Alfons de Wolf

Over long hair. Hey, if you were of a certain age in the 1970s you probably had long hair. What are you going to do?

Like many riders whose career followed in the wake of a highly decorated countryman, Fons de Wolf was pegged to be a "next." In his case the next Eddy Merckx. That is one tough role to fill. After some forty years no one has yet managed it. His Belgian support base must have had high hopes following his win at the Espoirs Paris-Roubaix in 1978, the second year of his professional career. He followed that win with stage victories at the Vuelta a Espana and Tour de France, as well as wins in one-day races including the Giro di Lombardia, Trofeo Baracchi, Milan-San Remo, Omloop Het Volk, and Giro di Toscana.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday Blues: A Place to Hang a Cap

Not sure how cost effective it would be to move this room-sized boulder to your house site in order to build around it, but if you are camping out in the desert that little wind and water-worn niche is just the right size for storing your Handlebar Mustache 'Belgian the f**k Up' cycling cap.

Blue: A color, a mood or emotion, a genre of music. Tune in each Monday for another installment of the Blues, with a cycling twist.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

2014 Santa Cross

The 2014 Santa Cross nestled into a little bowl between hills at Pierce College in the west San Fernando Valley, although the trickiest parts of the course were up in those surrounding hills. The race marked the finale of the SoCal Cross Prestige Series for this year, so those Series Leader jerseys presented on the podium today were effectively Series Champion jerseys.

For some racers today, the Holiday's came early, though in no case were the gifts easily received, and in most cases involved a hotly contested duel before any unwrapping could take place. Indicative, was the Women's Elite race, where the top three on the day shadowed one another continually until the end of the race. For the first half, Summer Moak seemed to have the upper hand, leading each time she came past; Christina Probert however, was always right there marking her, with Christine Pai not far behind. The final time across the line saw Probert take the win, ahead of Pai and Moak. However, the win was not enough for Probert to overcome Moak in the final series standings:

1. Summer Moak (Felt / K-Edge)
2. Christina Probert-Turner (The TEAM / Turner Bikes)
3. Amanda Nauman (SDG - Bellweather - Krema)
4. Nicole Brandt (VC LaGrange / Michelob Ultra)
5. McKenzie Melcher (Jenson USA / The TEAM)

Hmmm, actually, now that I think about it, Christina is wearing the Leaders' Jersey, so how could she have lost it after winning the race? Something doesn't add up.

It became a habit, a bad, bad habit this year, for me to leave before the finish of the Elite Men's races and, unfortunately, it was a habit not to be broken on this day. Too bad, judging by the opening laps, the finish was shaping up to be the competitive race of the day. Though I missed it, the day's win went to Brent Prenzlow (Celo Pacific / Focus), ahead of Alfred Pacheco (Buena Park Bicycles), Rex Roberts (Velo Allegro), Spencer Rathkamp (H&S Bicycles), and Michael Barker (Team Velocity). The top three on the day also comprised the series top three (though in a slightly different order:

1. Alfredo Pacheco
2. Rex Roberts
3. Brent Prenzlow
4. John Behrens (Velo Hanger)
5. Brandon Gritters (Rock N' Road / Big Red Coaching)

Congratulations to the Series Champions, in all the categories, for results and final standings be sure to check the Prestige Series website, or Facebook page. Here is the link to the Flickr album, and a few teasers:
nice day for a race

one racer described the mud as like "peanut butter", sticky in one corner, slick in the next

Summer Moak leads Christina Probert and Christine Pai up the second of two 'out of the saddle hills'  in the Women's 'A' race

the lead five of the Men's 'A' race, with series leader, Alfredo Pacheco (Buena Park Bicycles) at point

like this group of riders, another year of SoCal Cross Prestige Series races heads into the sunset

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Music for a Saturday Morning

I rode along Powerline this morning, stopping briefly to watch the clouds as they sailed along the front of the mountains, giving way to that brilliant blue that only comes along in the wake of a rain. It was a quiet morning, the clouds were hasty in their departure but there was no sound of discord to mark their passing. I shared the little bit of trail with a couple runners, guessing they were from the group formerly known as the CCCP (Claremont Cross County People), one of those rare instances when I see anyone else along Powerline.

Further along the route I rode into the Village where a youth cello group played on one side of Yale, and a few moments later a choral group sang on the other. Still later riding some CX-style laps around the Pomona College Farm, Greek Theatre, and athletic fields, I heard yet more music. A hidden hollow in the middle of that expanse of woodland served as a impromptu sound studio for a small orchestral group, one of those unexpected and surprising moments that tend to occur when out on a bike. 

You don't often see green bikes, the color isn't used all that much really, but back in the Village for lunch, and before the family arrived my own green machine shared rack space with another. Just the two, just for a moment, on a musical morning.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Stuff Someone Said: Sean Kelly

As I look out the window, onto a wet, wet world, this badass quote from one of the most badass of riders, Sean Kelly, seemed a rather apropos philosophy for the day (which, by the way, does not mean I will live up to the sentiment):

"I go out on my bike, I do my ride, and when I get back home I decide if it's too wet or not."

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bikes in Film: The Giver

This 2014 adaptation of the 1993, and Newbery Medal winning, novel by Lois Lowry, is billed as a social science fiction. Society has become highly controlled; personal freedom has been brushed under a rug in an effort to abolish conflict. Most notably, memories have been blocked through daily injections. But for one so-called Keeper of Memory and his apprentice, the society is emotionless and painless. The same idea makes its way into film and television periodically (I believe Star Trek alone, examined the concept numerous times), there is nothing really new about the story. This version is fair, but no more than that; it is an interesting concept, but is not developed to the extent that it could, or should, be and so a lot gets glossed over.

As you can see in the still photo below, bikes are a part of the future as depicted in the film. Those bikes are very much like our bikes of today - frame, two wheels, wide handlebars for increased stability, and a saddle for comfort. They have traded out Cannondale's proprietary "Lefty" for a nondescript "Righty", they also all seem to be available in only one color - plain white ' with no other markings. All uniform in other words; no "my bike is better than your bike" arguments. Fits right in with the general theme of eliminating discord and conflict.

The bike sequences are not extensive, but as the film moved toward a conclusion, I thought they might play a more prominent role - when the hero began his quest to transform the society, he did so by bicycle. Apparently, though, the great escape requires more than human power.

In this perfect society everyone gets around by foot or on bike (excluding security, storm troopers, secret police, or whatever term you want to use, who have electric motor bikes and drones at their disposal, of course). This begs the question, if the perfect society is a false one, what then are we to make of the bicycle hegemony (which I would generally regard as a good thing)? Is it a false "good thing" as well? 

Well, it is just a movie after all.
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