Monday, June 4, 2007

4 qualifying rides are completed

Much like a marathon runner runs 26.2 miles, not 26 miles, I rode 373 miles this weekend. Not 360 miles, as I previously thought I was doing, but 373 miles! I did it with my supportive and strong friends Pat and Cecile, without them, I might still be out on the road. We completed the final brevette for qualifying for Paris brest Paris.

It is very interesting as the more miles we do, the more acclimated one becomes to being on a bike. When I was younger, about 8-10 years ago now, I would do many shorter rides, averaging at least 100-150 miles a week, usually more in the summer. All of that shorter riding fails in comparison to the mental and physical test these ultra distances put on you body. The amount of time you are sitting on the seat, just pedalling away, seems so ludicrous when you have not done anything like that before. The overall time this weekend on and off the bike to complete the route was 35 hours and 55 minutes. We stopped in
Sommers Point, showered, and slept for 3 hours, and then were back on our bikes before sunrise.

The ride began at 4am from
Hightstown, New Jersey, near Princeton. The route basically went south to the southern most points and then returned back up north. Saturday's ride was surprisingly undifficult, I do not say easy as we did ride 240+ miles that day in the 90 degree heat, but it could have been worse. I was rather out of it by the time we rolled into the motel at 1am., from the heat, not eating anything of substance and the developing saddle sore.

We had first planned on sleeping until 5am and leave at 6am, but Pat couldn't sleep and we were up around 4am and decided to leave at 5am. We felt bad that we had made plans to ride with some people that we previously rode in with, but there was no sense of wasting an hour just waiting for them.

Sunday was great, tailwind, overcast and the high temperature was in the 70s. Perfect relief from the previous day of hot sun, and headwinds. Towards the end of the ride, my body was really feeling the mileage under it, but with the help of the "carrot stick"-pat and
cecile- I was able to ride it out.

I am left today with a real sense of accomplishment, and a better understanding of what my body can endure, and the fact that one can push themselves so much further than one might ever imagine. There were many times in my head I needed, not just wanted to stop, but I pushed on and was able to muster the strength from somewhere. I joked many times about finding my "third or fourth wind," as on a long ride, you have your highs and lows, and you just keep on pedaling.

One side note- common inside joke amongst bike mechanics is
JRA, Just Riding Along. It is a joke because so many customers come to the shop with some major basket case of a repair and claim that they were "just riding along. . .and then my bike wheel fell off. . .and then the tire exploded." The JRA that happened this weekend was a little different. We were riding for about 2 hours on Sunday morning, after our little sleep, when we in encountered some fellow riders that were ahead of us, they were going the wrong way and we turned to look at our right, and there was smoke bellowing out of a house. One of the riders jumps off the bike and proceeds to bang on the door, then goes in to find an elderly man in there having trouble breathing. We call 911, but were not really able to give them an accurate address, as we had no real idea where we were other than what the Cue sheet said. Luckily, a volunteer fireman happen to be driving by and saw a pack of riders and then noticed the smoke coming out the house and came to assist. I even took part by helping, read=forcing, the elderly man to sit down, he kept on trying to go into the house. Once under control by the fireman, we get back on the road. There is a really strong possibility that if we were not just riding along, that it might have gone unnoticed and it would have had dire consequences. As parting words, the elderly man said he had never had anything like this happen before, I then responded 'it has to happen once in your lifetime, good to get it out of the way.'

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Spring Time Bicycle Sale!

I have recently been putting complete bicycle up on Ebay, it is a thing I try to do every Spring to clear out some stock here at the shop. I mainly do it in the Spring in hopes to deliver a bike to one of the various swap meets I am already attending, so I don't have to box the bike up. Well to be truthful, I don't have to box the bicycle up, Matthew generally does.

Collectors always think we part out bicycles when we buy them at swap meets, we rarely do. This year, we took a Campagnolo 50th Anniversary group off of a tall unknown Italian frame and sold the parts. Sometimes we might have a derailleur "fall off" a bike, exchanged for something else, and sell it out the door. Most of the time, if it is a nice period bike, after a swap meet it follows me upstairs and sits in the pile of bikes until someone may happen to come in and buy it, or it is relegated to my "Spring Time Bicycle Sale" on Ebay

So, we had already sold a mid 1960s Mercier, just sold a Raleigh International and currently we have a Bauer Kunstfahren bike(trick bike) and an early 1970s Bottecchia. The Bauer is a really cool bike. See the video from YouTube to know what I mean.

So I may put up one or two more bikes up before Cirque, in hope of being able to bring them there for delivery.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

It's been a while, I have done a couple things

It's been a while since my last post and a bunch of things have happened.
I went to the Trexlertown swap meet, rode the 5 Boro tour in NYC with my wife and friends, and most recently- completed my 400k(257 miles) qualifier ride.

attached are various photos of the past 2 weekends, the 5 boro tour and the 400k ride.

The 400k ride left central New Jersey at 4am and went south to Carney's Point and then further south to Salem. It was a lot of farmland in the beginning, and turned to Pine Barrens for most of the day. One unanticipated happening was the rain, I was without a jacket and even a long sleeve jersey. Our notions of finishing around 9pm-10pm were quickly deluded when there was 60mile stretch of headwind, then hours of rain. We came into the final Controle at 1:30am, having been on our bikes for 21 and a half hours. The bright side is that we had 6 1/2 hours to spare!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Return from out West

The trip went well, the weather turned perfect, after rain on Thursday and Friday morning. We left midday Thursday and encountered periods of torrential downpour before arriving at Memory Lane at 11pm. We scouted around and bought one bike that night.

Friday morning was looking grim, the field was flooded in spots and that made a lot of mud. The Memory Lane scene is mostly classic Balloon tire and Middleweight bikes, but we have been going long enough that sellers know what kind of bikes we are looking for and bring them for us. The two days at Memory Lane did not turn up any rare bikes for us, but we did find a bunch of riders to bring back to the shop and a nice Schwinn Town and Country Tandem. The best thing I picked up was probably an NOS TA waterbottle cage, still with the tag.

From there, we packed up and drove about an hour and a half north to Ann Arbor Michigan, looking for a motel to take a shower and get a good night's sleep. In Ohio, we sleep in the van usually, or if the weather permits, outside the van. Turns out, it was University of Michigan's graduation weekend and almost all rooms were booked. We found a room, ate, set the alarm, and went to sleep around 9pm. One problem, the alarm went off at 2am, rather than 5am, and we almost didn't realize until we were about to get in the van and leave. I finally went back to sleep around 3:30am.

The line of vehicles leading into the swap meet is usually short around 5:30am, but this year it was already around the first bend. That was a promising sign. Once we were let in, it was a buying frenzy, 5 bikes bought from one guy, 2 bought on the way back to the van with the first batch. People approaching me to buy their bikes, and even more people trying to buy the bikes we just bought to bring back to Philadelphia. This went on all day. No rare bikes or parts were found, just useful bikes and parts for the shop. I wonder how many people went to the swap meet looking for left side Selecta cranks, basic 1/2" pedal axle BMX platform pedals, or 700c Super Champion 40 hole rims? Probably not many, but we were very happy to find them.

I did remember to put on sunblock and drank plenty of water, but the long weekend was getting to us, and the packing seemed to take forever. We were on the road around 6pm or so, and soon realized that we were not going to get that far. So we got a room in Ohio and feel asleep eating Oreos for dinner.

The drive back to Philly was nice, the weather was beautiful. I came back with a few "keepers" for myself- all books. I got a set of Schwinn Service Manuals, Collecting and Restoring Antique Bicycles, and some reprints of high wheel and turn of the century bicycle catalogs. Overall, a nice trip, but it left me wishing I found something cool.

Pictures are of the bikes we bought there, we arrived with an empty van!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Weekend Road Trip

Today we leave for the long drive out west to Ohio for the swap meet at Memory Lane Classics. It is held the field around there bicycle shop in Grand Rapids. Some years the weather has been beautiful, other years we have been stuck with freezing rain. This weekend doesn't look too bad, with only scattered thunderstorms. The weather is an important factor for any swap meet, but I look at the forecast even closer as I know I am in that field from Thursday night until Saturday afternoon. We either sleep in the van or if the weather permits it, out in the field, under the stars.

It is predominantly a classics bicycle swap meet, catering towards balloon tire and 1960s kids muscle bikes, but anything can show up there. We travel around the country looking to buy basic bikes to sell at the shop for commuters and college kids, but we are also collectors and love seeing, and buying, unique and interesting stuff. I like vintage lightweights from the 1930s-1960s, especially weird parts. I have a small saddle collection of different aluminum frame racing bike seats. Curtis interests are much wider, from high wheelers to modern mountain bikes, he collects everything. Curtis even has a valve cap collection on display at the shop.

After Memory Lane, we drive up to Ann Arbor Michigan to half indoor/half outdoor swap meet there on Sunday morning. That starts with the getting there early on Sunday morning to seat on line in our vehicles before sunrise, waiting for the gates to open at 7am? From there, we spend all day buying, selling, looking, and smoozing. Last year the van was pretty loaded and people we coming over and taking pictures of our "pile." Every bicycle, frame, and part in the picture is something we bought while out west last year.

Then it is the long journey home, from Michigan back to Philly. To the average driver, not that big of a deal, just long. But with a few tons of bicycle parts crammed inside and attached on and around the van, the driving is a bit labored. Of course, there is also the unpacking on Tuesday, when the rattling of 11 hours or so on the road has crammed the bikes together even tighter!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Commuter bikes

Doing quick errands around here in Philly only makes sense to do it by bicycle. I choose to do it on a 1961 all chrome Rudge that has been retrofitted with Campagnolo cranks, Velocity 700c wheels, Panaracer T-Serve tires, Brooks B-72 saddle and a Union bottom bracket generator. I know the frame is too small for me, but it is really hard to find a vintage chrome bicycle.

It is great for getting around town, you don't need more than three speeds for center city. The fenders and chainguard keep me clean and the rear rack and innertube are good for carrying things. Ideally I would want some larger front rack, but for now, I have a cosmetic one, a TA made rack attached to a Mafac Racer brake.

Curtis rides a Prewar Schwinn Cycle Truck with a modified laundry basket on the front and double rear baskets on the rear. It has an inch pitch drive that is geared super low, great for carrying large loads or getting in shape, read:spin.

Curtis uses it for lugging groceries, taking packages to the post office and transporting Fido, the shop dog. Also great to BBQ off of.

In the CycleTruck picture is the newest member to push a broom around, Curtis the third.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Loaded Van after Copake Swap

It is a good size load for one person to have to load up, looks like I didn't miss too much. I still have not seen the contents but the van looks like it only have 10 bikes on the outside, not that much considering the loads we have previously packed.

Unpacking Copake

Today we get to unpack the van and see what goodies Curtis bought and traded and see what undesirables returned with him. It is always fun to see what turns up at swap meets because there is always something unique and cool.

This was the first swap meet I have missed in a while, maybe a couple of years? Curtis was left to haggle and purchase bikes on his own, rather than our method of swooping down on a swap meet, 'attacking' from two different sides to get the early deals. From my talks with him over the weekend, it sounded successful, for the first time in a long time, he actually brought items to sell and said they sold well- or more importantly- they did not return with him.

I have a lot of packing of Ebay and website items today, as a bunch of stuff sold over the weekend. I also have to start preparing myself for the trip out to Ohio and Michigan for those swap meets this weekend. As fun as swap meets are, they are also taxing on the body and mind. It is usually a sensory overload, looking at thousands of items, hundreds of bicycles and knowing what the value is to the shop and trying to buy them cheap enough so they can be sold at a reasonable price with room for a little profit.

I must know the approximate value of a Campagnolo Super record used track headset, lamp bracket to a 1920s Mead Ranger, left Tear Drop pedal, Schwinn Sports Tourer, and a VAR 4th hand tool. One day is cool, but two days is taxing, and the third day in Michigan just really wears me down. All of this does not take into account the talking with collectors and smoozing I do as well, and the 'occasional' beer or two!

Monday, April 23, 2007

300k in Virginia last Saturday

It was an ideal day for riding on the April 21st, and Virginia was beautiful. We started the ride with less than ideal conditions though, after taking the long way there, 5 hours of driving, rather than 3. I think I ate a Snickers candy bar for dinner. To top all that, we only slept about 3 hours.

With all of that working against us, the ride started well, at a brisk 5am. Our Schmidt lights and hubs were more than sufficient for the darker than night back roads. It was my first night ride with my current setup and I was really pleased.

As day broke, we could see the landscape and knew it was going to be a very enjoyable ride. Rolling countrysides and plenty of cows to moo at and horses to neigh with.

My riding buddies were fellow Philadelphians Pat and Cecile on a custom Bilenky tandem. They borrowed an ill-fitting tandem a few weeks before to ride the 200k in Eastern Pennsylvania and decided that a tandem was the best way to go to get to Paris. Their tandem for this ride was not even painted, just primered with Bilenky written on it with magic marker! No mechanical problems for either bikes, my Jack Taylor is excellent for longer distances. No pictures of my bike yet, or me, as I am the cameraman.

The route was all rolling hills, nothing compared to the climbs we encountered on the 200k. We finished a little before 10pm, getting another chance to try out our bomb-proof lighting setups and our navigational skills at night. I was left with a slightly sore knee and some irregular sunburn patches from the irregular applications of sunblock I used. Other than that, the ride was perfect, not one missed turn(a few slight overshoots, but we always caught them), no mechanicals, food was excellent, enough water and an abundance of waving Virginians, leaving my bell ringing thumb well exercised!

Friday, April 20, 2007

First post is mainly pictures

These are just a couple pictures on the computer of some things we have around the shop.

It is my first post and I hope to add valuable information up here in the future.

But for now, look at the pretty pictures and ask any questions you may have.

First photo is of a 1959 Ephgrave.

Second is a Schwinn Paramount display.

Third is an assortment of hubs, from Maxicar to Campagnolo to Zeus and others.

Final picture is of a pile of Campagnolo cranks.

My boss is away today at the Copake Swap meet and Auction, and tomorrow I take off work to do a 300k brevette, for the second, out of four, qualifying rides for Paris-Brest-Paris. It will be fun. I am riding a 1968 Jack Taylor that I received as a gift from my boss. I will photograph it soon, with a description.