30 December 2009

Cold Kool Stops Stop


Last night was the coldest ride in a long time.
The reasons are complicated, but for the moment I have the old style black brake blocks on my front brake and salmon Continental Kool Stops on my rear brake. On the ride home my face was frozen, the bottoms of my non-skid Dansko clogs were frozen, the black brake blocks felt like ice cubes scraping against my rim... but the Continental Kool Stops performed like it was an afternoon in June. It was incredible. I'm fully converted.

Speaking of conversions, I have a set of Kool Stops for the front brake, I was going to install them with my new front wheel. More on that soon!

28 December 2009

Gentleman's Bike

We're not spending much time outside these (cold) days, but I did see this handsome bike.

21 December 2009

Schwinn Jenny

chic cyclist Boston
I was so happy to get this submission from a chic Boston cyclist. I love it all, but perhaps the coat the most (that's my favorite color). Looking good is its own reward, but I still want to say WELL DONE!

18 December 2009

He Likes It!

Raleigh Competition
Dad's bike is a complete success, but I might actually be even happier than he is.

He's out riding it today, in this frigid weather, so I know he really likes it.

The rest of the story:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

17 December 2009

White and Gold

bike white and gold

Spotted on Newbury Street, this bike impressed me with its confident use of gold.

bike white and gold

cockpit of bike white and gold

16 December 2009

A Historical Chic Cycling Treat

I am lucky enough to have a brother-in-law who is a historian. He sent this wonderful gift for all of us. What amazes me while reading this is how very similar Ethel's journal entries are to the entries and comments in modern chic cycling blogs. The more things change...!

Today I came across a journal of a chic cyclist from 1897, and wanted to share some of it with your blog. In her day a bike was referred to simply as “a wheel”. Attached are two scans from the journal as well.

Selected entries from the journal of Ethel Starr Mack of Benton County, Oregon, 1897:

portrait of Ethel Starr Mack, lady cyclist in Benton County Oregon 1897

April 8: I worked today on a wheeling suit which I am making of my old blue dress. I am making a sleeveless Eton jacket with a sailor collar trimmed in white braid. I think I shall like it quite well…. We have heard that our wheels came to Lebanon [Oregon] today, by stage.

April 12: Our wheels came today. Mine is a beauty! The prettiest wheel in town, so everyone says. It is dark green with dark red and black lacings. I can ride already. I learned in the College hall – after practicing half an hour I could ride across the Hall. After three-quarters of an hour I could go around the hall. After school tonight Effie Holt and I went up to the Hall with our wheels but so many were riding I could not try mine, so Herschel, Effie and I went down to the college track. Soon the whole crowd followed. There were nine wheels on the track! I rode around it several times but I did not have strength to ride more than once and a half around the baseball diamond without resting. Herschel looks the best of the boys on his wheel. They all said I learned remarkably fast. Herschel took supper with me and Ali, Wayne and George and Amy were there besides spectators. We had a nice time and I rode five miles and was not much tired. Herschel and I came back together and went to the spring for a drink.

April 20: I sewed some on my machine today and it works nicely. I am making a shirtwaist of my old blue chambray skirt to wear with my wheel suit….

April 21: Herschel took me down to the track and we rode together. I rode seven miles and at once I rode a mile and a half without stopping. Herschel and Gilbert went to Albany today and got them new wheel suits. Herschel looks so handsome in his. He has gray pants and a red sweater and stockings….His wheel cost him $22.50.

May 1: This being May Day I made a May basket of green and white crepe paper lined with pink, and filled it with flowers.

May 2: Mama told me to take my wheel and go to the track. I did so and Allie and I rode four miles without stopping.

May 7: Herschel came down and we started out for a ride. It was my first attempt to ride on the road. I wore my new wheel suit for the first time. We found the first mile too rough for riding but after that it was nice. Coming back we sat down under a tree to rest, and Herschel graded an examination paper. I was not much tired when I reached home and Herschel praised my riding. It was altogether the happiest ride I have taken.

a drawing from the journal of Ethel Starr Mack lady cyclist in Oregon 1897

As an aside, when I googled "Ethel Starr Mack" I was happy to see that she's buried alongside her husband Herschel. Long live bike romances!

15 December 2009

Rode a pretty black bike to work today

Raleigh Competition city bike
Zeus is mostly done! All the rest of the work will be customizing it for Dad.

This bike is SO MUCH FUN to ride. It's a little tall for me, so I feel like I see forever. I haven't loaded it down with racks and bags so it's light and quick and it really does Zoooom!

modern city bike Raleigh Competition
I took these photos at a playground because Dad is telling everyone about how he's getting a bicycle for Christmas. He sounds so happy when he says it, and he also sounds like he's about 6 years old. It's adorable. Aren't bikes great?

drive side photos of the Raleigh Competition
The bike shifts well. The stem shifters work great (10 on the tree, instead of 3!) and I think we have the derailleurs adjusted so he can't throw the chain.

I'm not sure the gearing will be perfect for Dad, but that's the work of time. I'm happy we'll get to ride around together while he's here and work out these details. I look forward to sharing what I know about bikes, just as he once did about vintage cars. And just as I learned all the tricks I needed to get the old machines he gave me running, he's going to have to learn the delicacy of shifting this old friction system. The thing is, unlike the pink and grey wedding cake Edsel he wanted to give me when I turned 16, these old vintage machines are a bit cheaper to keep running! But I do think he will have an appreciation for it.

heart locket on a bikeAll this started when Dad had his heart attack and bypass surgery so I got a gold-plated locket on Etsy and went down to our local bead store for a gold-plated split ring that was large enough to slip over cable housing. Inside I've left a message for Dad.

cockpit of bike build
As suggested, I may switch the water bottle to his non-dominant hand. I know he's going to love the cork grips, they feel really nice. The cheap Wald handlebars are wide for my slender lady shoulders but I highly recommend them for men.

See Next Installment

14 December 2009

Pretty Panniers

DIY canvas panniers on a bikeSpotted on Newbury Street this weekend, these pretty panniers appear to be DIY.

I can't imagine where s/he found such perfect bags - they look purpose built with that flat side for hanging against the bike, and look like they match all the Gilles Berthoud bags. Yet the attachment system is certainly not ideal. I wouldn't want to ever need to unloop all those straps threaded through the rack. I suppose it wouldn't be hard to rig a set of hooks instead, if one could find bags like these.

Does anyone know these panniers?

bicycle panniers DIY

10 December 2009

And still more

I feel badly, I just plain haven't had time to bring you more images of chic cyclists. Between the darkness, work, and my time working on this bike, this bike is all the news I have.

OH! But, if any of you are riding over the Mass Ave bridge towards MIT this morning, keep your eyes open on the MIT side. The entire bike lane has been strewn with Scrabble tiles. I saw the letters to make "wars" or "raw". Let me know if you see any words on your trip.

OK, on to interim project photos.

Raleigh Competition partially built
Here's the bike as of this morning.
I had the headset put on, but everything else I've done myself. I'm extra proud of this bike and look forward to finishing it.

cockpit of the bike
Here's a view of what Dad will see. We'll probably add a light and I'm debating on one of those pretty Crane bells. I have black cork grips I will put on at the very end, when everything is adjusted.

Raleigh Competition Wright saddle
Every time I really look at these bands of white on the seat tube I think I should change the gumwalls I already had to whitewall tires. Maybe next Christmas? These gumwalls have only about 20 miles on them.
That's a Wright leather saddle we had kicking around. In 1962 Wright and Brooks merged into something called the Raleigh Saddle Division (according to this PDF from Brooks).

Zeus clamp on double cable guide
The Zeus clamp-on double cable guide I got last night. It is SO CLOSE to closing! I just tried it on the bike before work, so we'll go back tonight with pliers and try to get the existing screw to close it. If not I think we can get another just a mm or two longer which will do the trick.
This guide is a knock-off of the Campagnolo ones, and I held it up to one on my International. It's not as nicely made but all the angles are the same so I think it will function just fine.
My dad is a life-long fan of Greek history (his name is Alexander) so we've now dubbed this bike "Zeus", but you have to say it like "Zooom!" since the bike will be so quick. So the bike's name is really "Zooos!"

retrofitted stem shifters Shimano 600 arabesque
The ladies at Bikes Not Bombs helped me dig through the used stem shifters to find a set which could take Dad's downtube shift levers. I kept the Arabesque-engraved downtube clamp in case he decides to make this a more aggressive bike as he progresses as a cyclist.

Wald handlebars on Raleigh Competition
I like the sweep of these handlebars for Dad. I don't know which side the waterbottle is supposed to go on, since Dad is a lefty I put it on the left.

See Next Installment

08 December 2009

Update on Dad's Bike

Shimano 600 Arabesque component group

Well, as expected I'm learning so much with this project! This weekend's life lesson was to widen one's gaze. Certainly vintage Campagnolo is stunning, and would be correct for dad's bike, but I discovered a treasure trove of bike jewelry that mere mortals might actually afford: Shimano 600 Arabesque.

Man, is this stuff beautiful! It is the vintage analog to modern Ultegra, and was made from 1978 to 1984. I love the engraving, and the black enamel accents are the perfect counterpoint to the rich black paint on dad's bike.

I have included extra-large photos if you want to click to make them huge.

Shimano 600 arabesque front derailleur
The front derailleur is relatively restrained, when you see the rest of the component group.

Shimano 600 arabesque downtube shifters
Absolutely stunning downtube shifters - but Dad doesn't want downtube shifters! More on that later...

Shimano 600 arabesque cranks crankset
The cranks are in perfect condition, they hardly look used.

Shimano 600 arabesque rear derailleur
I went with a short cage derailleur because we'll just have a double crankset in front. I hope it will have enough pull.

Shimano 600 arabesque rear derailleur
Note the engraving and fluting on the front face as well as the derailleur cage.

See Next Installment

03 December 2009

Tinsel Time

tinsel on a bike basket
I snapped the photo because I loved the lady's snowy tinsel on her basket, a classy festive accent.

It was only later that I realized how chaotic the rest of the scene had been!

bicycle chaos

I also see now that she has snowy tinsel all over her bike!

30 November 2009

Black and Chrome

There is a reason that's a classic combination.

26 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

For your Thanksgiving viewing pleasure, I have some fall foliage bike flower photos sent in by folks who took my request for photos to the next level. Aren't these fun?

25 November 2009

Family Cyclists

Preparing for my Thanksgiving meal my thoughts are turning to families. Here are some little of my favorite chic cyclists in training:

mini parisians à vélo
Here are two mini-Parisians à vélo, the nephew and daughter of my friend. It seems it's completely normal for these two to be out on their bikes. Even still, don't they look delighted?

father daughter cycling
And here we have my college roommate's husband and daughter on their way to work/school. My friend told me that they're multi-modal, with a stint on the bus followed by a bike ride. At any rate, there is a group of ladies who ride the bus with them and are convinced that this little girl is the cutest thing ever (and she is). One day the bike rack on the bus was difficult and the ladies swooped in to help with the girl while dad took care of the bike. My friend commented on how glorious and humbling it is to feel that sense of community with a child - that it does take a village and even in our difficult world we, as a community, still pull together like that. It is beautiful, really.

I'm feeling sentimental, so I better sign off. Happy Thanksgiving to all your families!

24 November 2009

Boots and Handbag on a Red Mixte

lady on a red mixte
It's a grey day here in MA, but this lady's out in style. I couldn't tell if she was wearing a skirt with those boots, but she certainly was looking stately as she moved smoothly through the intersection, not too fast, not too slow.

23 November 2009

Getting There!

bicycle photo updated 10 speed
What a treat to look back at my post from March 4, 2008. As of this weekend I have accomplished all the goals listed there and more.

chainguard and other upgrades on vintage 10 speedOn the list for upgrading I had:

Well, as to this last goal, I decided that an internal hub might be better for my needs while still accomplishing the winter protection I was looking for. My husband built the wheel and we got it installed yesterday. The only challenge was that my handlebars are not round, and not standard, so getting the shifter on was a big deal. Everything else went smoothly. I chose a new Sturmey-Archer three speed mostly because it was already sized for my very narrow dropouts and I didn't want to have to spread the rear triangle. We laced it to a Salsa Delgado rim. My only complaint thus far is that I didn't realize the hub would click whether I was pedaling or coasting. I used to be much more stealthy! But that's not much of a complaint and I'm thrilled with how the bike now just smoooothly glides. I had no idea how much resistance had built up in the old wheel and derailleur. I know the derailleur was contributing because now when I backpedal I marvel at the lack of friction.

In the photo below you can see the results of my fender painting. After all these years of full-time commuting my Honjos are not looking as shiny as they did. I'm liking the pinstripe that now picks up my frame color on the fenders.

close up of drive train
I still have more upgrades planned. I have a tire and new brake pads waiting for a new front wheel, I'd like it to match the rear. Hmmm. Is that it? Might I be getting close to the end of upgrades for the bike? Is that possible?

driveside renovated 10 speed

I might have saved some money (maybe) if I'd just bought a new bike and was done with it. Especially now that there are some cute, affordable city bikes (though probably made in Taiwan).

I am perhaps more proud of this old bike. I created this. It's my bike, there's not another one like it in the world, and I have learned so much in doing this. My husband has also learned a lot, I have him to thank for taking the wheel-building class. We've both grown in bike knowledge (and if we can, anyone can).

There's a wealth of old 10-speeds out there, and many are great bikes. Please don't send them to the dump! There's an adventure, sometimes frustrating, always informative, to be had in recycling them into lightweight beautiful city bikes.

20 November 2009

You don't have to ride your bike

rainy day in Boston with a bike
As I reflected on the view you see here, the street in front of a favorite café this morning, I found myself dreading my commute. Rain, puddles, harried drivers, it just seemed like such a drag.

Then I remembered a post from Chicago Bike Blog, Justyna's position on how we don't HAVE to ride every day and I gave myself permission to not ride into work this morning. Then the funniest thing happened! As I began contemplating my alternatives I decided to ride anyway. It really seemed the least of the evils. In the end it turns out that was for the best, the rain ended and this has become a beautiful day. I strolled outside at lunchtime without even a jacket.

I'm grateful for this morning because it allowed me to remind myself that I don't have to be a hero, and that riding almost all the time is good enough, and simply making it a choice is sufficient to bring back the joy.

So go ride your bikes! (but only if you feel like it)

19 November 2009

Fun Faux Fur

fur trimmed coat on a bike
Seems I should stop giving locations, you all are having so much fun guessing!

18 November 2009

ANT in its native habitat

One thing I've learned in my time hunting wild bikes in Boston: If you see a bike in Boston that looks elegantly at peace in the surroundings, approach stealthily and it's likely to turn out to be an ANT.

Here's an example spotted near the John Hancock buildings.

full bike ANT

full bike

front rack bike

rear view of bike

lights and front rack

17 November 2009

International City Bike

copper Raleigh International city bike
copper Raleigh International city bike
You all know that I'm a fan of the Raleigh International, particularly that model's chromed lugs. I was interested to see this copper International, all dressed up in city components. It certainly makes a lovely singlespeed, and the bridgepiece for the rear brake is effective in protecting this bike's tail light. It has the original cranks and pedals, and I believe the rear brake was put on the front because the brake pads were jammed all the way up in the slot, yet you can see that the clearance of the wheel looks like mine after I'd changed from 27" to 700c wheels.

The bike is a looker, and if my experience is any indication, it will attract the attention of old men everywhere, internationally. It's fun to strike up a conversation with them, I'm not sure if they miss their old bikes or their old youth, but they're every one of them nostalgic. Aren't bikes fun?