Friday, September 24, 2010

The Project

This is indeed a project.  It is nowhere near completion... as you can see.  Please enjoy the process along with me.  Allow me to explain what I have here.  First of all, This is the frame of an old Schwinn World Sport that I purchased from a fellow at University of Colorado in Boulder.  He obviously spray painted it white and (unfortunately) replaced the fork with a cheap solid steel fork that is pictured below.

 This fork is not an asset.  Yes, it is a functional bicycle fork, but it is not a nice one.  It probably cost $5 at your local rummage-bin, and that's not a deal.

Attached to the fork is a good brake caliper, which I will probably use, if I decide to put brakes on the bike.  That may not seem like an optional thing to most people, but allow me to explain.  This bicycle may wind up a fixed-gear bike.  That means that it has only one gear, and when the back wheel turns, so does the crank (which is what the pedals are attached to).  So, if it is a fixed gear bike, you simply need to slow your pedaling speed to slow the bicycle.  That can, however, be difficult when you need to stop in a hurry, so I might add brakes anyhow.

On a recent escapade to Recycled Cycles here in Fort Collins, CO, I purchased a new (used) fork and planned on putting onto the bike (pictured above).  This fork is considerably nicer, with forged drop outs, a slightly down-slanted crown, and hollowed steel or chromoly (it's hard to tell when it's just a fork without the rest of the bike).   I did a little research and found that it once belonged to the front end of a Raleigh Technium road bike, in case you were wondering.  You may notice that the fork has some pieces attached to the steering tube, that is the head set.  It is what holds the fork onto the frame.  This particular type of headset is threaded.  Until recently, all headsets were threaded, but now there are threadless headsets, which means that the steering tube is not directly connected to the bicycle, but is snugly fitted into the head tube of the bicycle after which the handlebar stem is placed on top and finally a cap with a screw to hold the whole thing together.  That may seem confusing... yep.  Confusing.  Just look it up on Wikipedia if you are confused, they have helpful diagrams.

For those of you that are interested, here are some more pictures of the bicycle in detail, with short explanations.

This is the top of the head tube (that's at the front of the bike).  It currently has part of the headset stuck to it (that is the cupped part right on top).

These are parts of the headset.  There are two sets of ball bearings here, they are what allow the headset to turn side to side even though it is screwed down tightly.  One of those sets of ball bearings will rest inside of the cupped part and then the larger silver part on the right will go over them, etc.  The "threaded" part is this the larger silver piece that actually screws onto the threads which are on the steering tube of the fork. 

This is the crank set that came on the bike.  It is clean, and at least a decent crank.  I would prefer something like an old Shimano 600 or an FSA, but I can't complain.  It will serve it's purpose.  It is difficult to see, but you can see that the chain stays (the skinny tubes on the bottom), have dimples on them.  That's due to the manufacturers, it's not a devastating blemish.  Before they knew what to do about the crank arm coming around and hitting the chain stays, they just bent them a little to compensate for the discrepancy. 

Finally, we have the rear drop outs (this is the part that the wheel "connects" to).  Rear drop outs come in many different shapes and sizes.  It is important here that the drop outs are horizontal.  It is also common to see vertical drop outs, but for a fixed gear bicycle it is important to have horizontal drop outs.  This arises from the dilemma of having only one gear.  With only one gear it is unnecessary to have a rear derailleur (the part of the bike that moves the chain from one gear to another).  You may notice, if you take a look at the bicycle sitting in your garage, that without the rear derailleur, the chain would just flop around.  That is precisely what the horizontal drop outs fix.  You can't always take up the slack by removing links from the chain.  The slack, instead, is taken up by moving the wheel farther back in the drop outs and then tightening it up. 

That is my project.  I will be working on it periodically, and updating you on the progress. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bicycle Puchases

The news is small, but the implications are extravagant.  I have a new bike frame.  It's actually an old bike frame, but having just purchased it from someone else, it is now a new bike frame once again.  All possibilities are open.  I can do whatever I want with it!  My project is to convert this poor old Schwinn World Sport into a fixed gear bike for me to ride wherever I please.  It's fairly low profile (no one wants to steal an old Schwinn) and will get me where I want to go without putting my more valuable bike in harm's way.  

Needless to say, there is some serious work to be done, but I am prepared to do it.   

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day... A Time to Rest

There are some places that never leave you.  This weekend I took the opportunity to travel to my grandparents' home in South Dakota, where I was reminded of this.  The smells are what first reminded me that I am fully embraced there.  Everyone's home has a smell.  Most grandparents' homes have a certain tinge of clean mixed with the definite scent of age.  Those things are true of this home, but I'm also warmed by the scent of saw dust, cookies, and laundry.  I feel like I've been wrapped in a plaid blanket the moment I step inside.  I love that.  

One spring I spent a whole month with my grandparents.  I broke my hand just a week or two before the end of the school year, and being one of the years I was home-schooled I was excused from final exams and instead took an extended vacation.  Visiting this weekend flooded my mind with memories.  I was reminded of my love for asiago cheese bagels and frozen cookies.  My grandmother would buy the bagels for me to make sandwiches, but I chose to eat each ingredient separately.  I can close my eyes and see myself huddled in a leather la-z-boy recliner, holding a plate with meat, cheese, and a bagel.  I reasoned that it all ended up in the same place, and I enjoyed each entity in its purity.  My grandmother freezes cookies.  I love frozen cookies.  This weekend my grandmother took a bag of spritz cookies from the freezer and told me to eat them.  I needed no second bidding.  The one-gallon zip-lock bag is now nearly empty.  The buttery-sweet golden goodness is irresistible to me.  Not only do I love them for their taste, but they remind me of Christmas.  I don't think that there could be a better cookie.   

I live near the mountains, and I've realized that every mountain range is distinct.  The Black Hills, where my grandparents live, is filled by a dark green pine forest.  When the sun is low enough, the trees cast shadows.  The beams of light shoot in between them, but it's hard to tell which is more spectacular.  The shadows sprawl like fallen companions at the feet of their living counterparts, but they are just as full of life.  They are more than just the darkened ground where the sun cannot reach.  They are poetry scrawled on grass and rock.  Anyone can read it. 

Golf.  I'm positive that this word is somehow related to the word "Pain", but I haven't figured out the etymology.  I'm not a golfer, but I golfed this past Sunday.  On nine holes, I hit the ball roughly twice as many times as you are supposed to, if that's what "par" means.  I certainly got my money's worth.  Those poor folks that own the golf course must not know that people like me are out there, hitting twice my share strokes and demolishing more than twice my share of grass.  I did enjoy it, in the end.  Amidst the frustration there were a few strokes of genius.  These gems were few and far between, but I remember them better than all of the terrible shots I took.  This must be what motivates people to play time and time again.