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TUMBLEWEED HANDYMAN CORNER

 
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...BIKES I'VE KNOWN
(click image for picture)


bike

 

 

    The first bike I rode was a Western Flyer 3 speed that belonged to my younger. I only  rode it a mile and a half, on perfectly flat terrain, and when I returned home every muscle in my 29 year old body was screaming with pain. I laid on the floor for hours wrenching with pain.

    Not being a person to let something like a bicycle get the better of me, I drove to a neighborhood bicycle store and purchased this bike, a Peugeot UO8. It's nothing special, just a nice typical bicycle. It was quite a while after this purchase before I learned there's a drastic difference between a good bike, a mediocre bike, and a cheapie.

    After riding the bike to work and back (ten miles a day) my body reached a point that I didn't suffer from the ride. It was then I began extending my rides, until they reached 80 miles to the beach, up to the top of the highest nearby mountain, 6,000 feet, and on to a three week tour of 1,500 miles around the Grand Canyon.

    The bike as you see it here is much like it was when I took these trips, other than the high rise handle bars, which were the typical ram's horn (turned-down) bars that were so common back in the early 70's.

    I set this bike up for testing, and that's why it's assembled as it is. But it doesn't ride well anymore, probably because I'm comparing it to other bikes I have. And the parts are difficult to find, so I've taken it apart and stored it on hooks for the time being. 

 

 
Raliegh      After returning from my 1,500 mile trip, feeling like a 30 year old superhero, I rode one afternoon with two men on a simple weekend ride. One of these men was 55, a very old man in my young eyes, and the other was 65, someone I wondered how he had survived the ravages of all that time. We rode for a while three abreast until some traffic came up behind us. The two men  pulled ahead into a single line, and I figured they would slow down once their position was maintained.
    They didn't. I found myself falling farther and farther behind as they put city blocks between me and them. To say the least I was humiliated. I thought of every excuse imaginable to defend my ego, and ultimately gave up the attempt and was ready to put up the bike for good.
    The older of the men owned the bike shop that sold me my Peugeot. One day I was at his store and we talked about that ride just described. Bud told me that it's in the bike, not the rider. I couldn't understand what he meant, so he brought out a Raleigh International, a near top-of-the-line bike, with all the expensive trimmings, including sew-up tires used by racers. I pressed on the peddle, and the bike took off like it had a motor and I had pressed the accelerator. Needless to say I bought the bike on the spot, then tried to figure out how to get the $350 dollars the bike sold for. The picture to your left is that bike, the one in the front. It's the only picture I have of the bike, so you'll have to exercise your imagination.


stella

 

 
    After completing about 2,000 miles of my 25,000 mile tour I had a head-on collision with a car. Besides thinking I was dead from the experience, my not being able to feel anything in my body other than my hand that had been driven into the hood of the car, my bike was destroyed. For a couple months I was unable to ride, so I bought a cheap car during the interlude. Once on my proverbial feet again, I bought a Stella, the cheapest bike I could find. This bike, pictured on the left, was a good riding bike in spite of it's cheap price tag. At the time the bike was a bright red. After riding this bike for about three years and was ready to resume my tour, and having by then purchased my next bike, I painted the Stella, as you see it here, and gave it to a friend who had ridden with me for over 2,000 miles during the summer.

 
 


bike

 


    This and the next picture shows the detailed scrolling applied to the lugs. I don't know if you can see the scrolling here since the scanning of the pictures was so poor.

 


bike

 

 
    In this picture you can't really tell, but I tapered the blue paint into the silver giving it a nice appeal. This turned out to be practice for when I painted my next bike.

 
loaded     This is the Stella fully loaded. Of course it could be any bike, they all looking the same covered with panniers (bike bags) and other paraphernalia. As you can see, there was no way I could throw my leg over the back of the bike, so I stood along side the bike and threw my leg over the handlebars. This drew some attention, and I don't recall having seen anyone do this. Nor can I any more, being lucky to ride at all considering my advancing age.
 
lugs     One day I was walking by a local bike shop and spotted this frame sitting in the store window. I knew I had to have it. For you bicycle fans, this is a Schwinn Paramount manufactured in 1961, equipped with Campy paraphernalia, and hand crafted chrome lugs and bottom bracket. It's quite a bike, and works amazingly well for carrying a load. I didn't care for the bright yellow paint, but sometimes we have to make sacrifices. I took the Campy stuff that used to be on the Raleigh and put it on this bike.
    I had purchased a straight tube, thin walled, very light bike frame with a small dint on the side, that I made into a track bike, and the bike came with a Brooks Swallow saddle. (Only those really interested in, and informed about bikes can understand or appreciate what I'm saying here.) I put the Brooks on the Paramount. It's amazing what a comfortable saddle the Swallow is. Today, if the leather was still good, that saddle would sell for over $250 dollars, and some imitations now sell for that price.
 
   If you look closely you'll see where I got the name for my web site. I used to sing the song "Tumbling Tumbleweed" to myself as I rode because I changed my direction so often. When people asked me where I was going, I'd tell them wherever he wind blew me.


bike

 


    The Paramount as it looks today. I removed the paint maybe 15 years ago, expecting to paint it soon thereafter. It sat all those years without paint, and didn't rust. This says what kind of metal they made these frames from. There was a little rust on the lugs, but not enough to work through the chrome. 

    I applied 6 coats of paint to the frame, and another 6 coats of clear lacquer. The bike looks great, and rides great, but I've shrunk a bit over the past years, and no longer fit comfortably over the top bar. It now hangs in my tool shed, until I either grow a bit, or I sell it. The problem is, although at one time such a bike carried a 3,000 dollar price tag, and though it's certainly a classic and sought after, the chances of matching up with the person with the money who wants it is slim to none. I checked such bikes out on the web, and they don't sell for much. Not enough people can appreciate such a bike I'm supposing.

 


Lugs

 
    The Paramount in it's present habitat.
    Another problem I would have selling the bike is that, although the brakes and the fingertip controls and such are Campy, the rest of it has been replaced with common goods. This would reduce the offer made for the the bike considerably. I would be better off giving it away to someone who could appreciate it for what it is than to sell it to someone who only wants a novelty or a bike frame for their reckless-rider son.


 


bike

 
    This Iron Horse is the bike I rode until recently. I now use it for my foul weather bike, it having heavier tires that will travel fairly well on the wet and icy roads during the winter.
    It's interesting how things can change without changing at all. For instance, that 2,000 dollar computer you bought 15 years ago that was so fast and full of advantages, now seems to move at a snail's pace and not worth the powder to blow it up. We judge people and things, not by itself, but by what we've become aware of. I described being so content with the first bike I owned, and how dissatisfied I was with it when I had more expensive ones to compare it to. It's the same with the Iron Horse. It road fine, and was easy to ride, until.....


 
bike     This is an Urban Xpress. About 4 years ago I was in the big city looking for a bike. I needed a good bike, that wasn't too expensive, that I could use for a 100 mile ride in one day I wanted to do. That sounds like a lot, but there are people my age and older who ride double and even triple that amount in one day. I wasn't going to compete with anyone, just do it to have done it. I didn't take the ride, nor do I think I could do it anymore considering my since-developed angina.
   I couldn't find the bike I wanted anywhere. There were some nice bikes, but I had seen and ridden (and even now own) bikes that caused them to not come up to the standard I was looking for. One thing I was insisting on is double-butted steel such as Reynolds. I didn't think I could find this in a bike for the price I wanted to pay, but when all hope was gone I entered a bike shop, and there it was, and it was the last bike like it they had in stock. I rode the bike just a few feet on the sidewalk outside the store, and I knew I had to have it. Now it's the bike I like to ride, and my once-so-satisfying bike, the Iron Horse, sits untouched when the weather is halfway decent. This bike rides more than twice as easy, and that much more comfortable, than the Iron horse. They look the same, but their similarity ends with their looks. I took off the 700c - 32's and replaced them with 700c - 23's, and the difference is amazing.  

MISC
manual

 
     Once I was so involved with bikes that I wrote a 500 page manual for bike clubs. This is the cover of that manual. I printed 2 copies of the book, which I bound in a common way, and never did anything with them. Eventually I scanned the pages on to disk, and threw away the books. They were taking up valuable space. About that time, or before, I threw away 5 file boxes of my writing that I'd accumulated over the many years (my diaries) for the same reason. I'm very thankful for this digital generation, where I can store everything I write, which is substantial, on a single thin disk. What an amazing age.

    What will my next bike be like? I'm already looking into an electric bike for the time my health fails to the point I need the extra boost. I hope that day never comes, but there have been occasions when such a possibility looked as if it had already arrived.
 
 

 


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