Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Cromwell Gets A Bicycle

The Doldrums
Miss Daisy the Yellow Dog and Toby the Love Puppy are trying to get a grip on this their new reality: they have their own fan. They have their own dog fan, a sweet little unit I picked up for a measly twelve dollars. It is one of those cheap square box fans but it is set on High here in our sultry Old Hawks Park in my not-air-conditioned mobile home/barn; they just cannot believe their luck and Toby, an amateur yodeler, has already learned that howling weird noises into the blades of the fan results in all manner of fun sounds that cause Miss Daisy to run outside and hide under the trailer.

For What It's Worth
Such is the life of the Trailer Park Cyclist. Simple pleasures and dog tricks; carpentry and drinking and just getting by in these doldrums of the sorta-post recession and a recent Presidency that will leave all of us, I think, saying “What was that? What just happened?” It may have been an example of don't let the Right Hand know what the Left Hand is doing but I will take it, these doldrums. The absolutely unbelievable stupidity and ruthless cruelty of the crew before this one leaves me weary and old and fearing for my future, sometimes...I'll take a boring administration anytime over a war mongering idiot and a supporting cast of Cold War leftovers.

And yet: guess who's coming to dinner. No, he ain't black, we already did that: he is uber-white and the true scion of this weird Skull and Bones dynasty that didn't exactly ruin everything, but not for want of trying. And yet, having lived under his governorship with no complaints and faced with the other dynasty out of Arkansas I will, pending the debates, make mine Jeb.

This page is not, usually, political (that's a bald-faced lie) but I have a lot on my mind right now. For one thing, I am old and feeble and I am supposed to be doing my Captain Ron routine somewhere South of here and on my way to work each day I pass the anchorage and there they are; the sailboats. But I know the truth about sailboats and I also know I am too lazy to bother with getting in a boat and risking my life just to get to a new saloon. I live in a tourist town and there are plenty of watering holes around here that real sailors can't wait to get back to from some crappy Carribean Island where beers cost twice as much as usual and if you can afford to buy enough beer to get arrested you will find out that there are no bail bondsmen and the Embassy has an unlisted number.

As Always...
But what about bicycles, you ask? Even if you didn't, I'll tell you: this afternoon I assembled a Bicycle Shop Warehouse bicycle for my old friend Cromwell. The first thing I did was motor up to his pottery shop in my antique Ford pickup truck. I drive nowhere except for work, but I had my Park bicycle work stand in the back and Cromwell, ever a sucker for flash, was impressed that such a device even existed, needless to say that such a one as me might actually own one. But that is the nature of me and Crom's relationship, however tenuous it may be; for example he has never visited these pages, even though he knows all about them...maybe. But enough of that. Instead, let me tell you about the Motobecane hybrid he bought and I put together.

It was sweet. The welds were the same, if not neater, than my '91 aluminum frame Mongoose Alta. Even with a cheap Suntour suspension fork, the overall bicycle was light. Plenty light. The chain was lightly lubed with clear oil and all the gears shifted just fine, straight out of the box.



Motobecane Elite Sport

Always There Are Caveats
There is this to know: The seat post was crap. Total crap. The Tecktro Brakes were marginal, at best. The suspension fork I cannot comment on, because suspension forks are totally alien to me. But when I took the test ride, thirty minutes after opening the box, I was flying in slow traffic like a Quicksilver remake was in the offing and it was really cool how the nose dived when you put on the front brake. I shifted through all the front derailleur gears and all the rear ones too. I didn't cross-chain anything because that ain't my way and everything worked just fine. I would buy one of these bicycles, I think, except that this was the lowest-end offering in the Motobecane Elite series...and I don't ride hybrids.

At least, not yet. This bicycle was plenty quick and the Altus rear unit and the Tourney front was a bit rough, but still serviceable. With the little riding that Cromwell does, it may be years before this new drive train breaks in and smooths out. With me, not so long. If that bicycle I assembled this afternoon were mine, she would be seeing thirty miles by sundown and probably a bicycle sick-day tomorrow. I haven't ridden to Daytona for a long time now.

Some Days Are Better Than Others
The sun is setting over the yardarm, maybe; at least it would be if I were on my boat and knew what a yardarm was. Since I ain't and I don't, what I will do instead is pedal down to the closest House of Spirits and grab some grog. Cheap beer too and here we are, all of us; and here is Miss Daisy and the Love Puppy and here comes sundown and the dogs have a cooling fan to lie in front of; it is a better day, now, for the dogs and not such a bad day for the Trailer Park Cyclist. I got to play the part of the wise old bike guru and the Park work stand got a supporting role; I did something worth doing today and I also was the first person to ride a brand-new bicycle that did its job just fine.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Bike Shop

May 28, 2014

33 comments:

  1. Good to see you TJ…your sentiments of "Home Sweet Home" ring pretty true in my ear right about now. Good stuff.

    Kloshe konaway
    Kloshe nanitch

    Matt

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  2. There's no place like home, Matt, and you are pretty far away. But adventures are worth the travel time and we always end up home again, even if it is in a new place. Safe travels, buddy.

    tj

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  3. YAY for Cromwell! And YAY for us! Glad to see you are still out and about and doing well. Hope you got out to the local House of Spirits with no issues.

    Hope your wheels stay true and your tubes inflated while you pedal around the quiet places.

    Dan

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    1. Thank you so much, Daniel. I gotta say, that squish-front bicycle got my attention. And it was so shiny!

      tj

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  4. I'm so glad to get to read you, TJ, but gladder still for Cromwell. Nothing quite so delicious as a new bike, especially one built by a wrench who knows the way home.

    I put Fast Eddy on the stand on Monday and cleaned him up and down, lubed everything and he rode so much better last night as I raced home to beat a thunderstorm.

    Nice build and nicer post, sir!

    Brian in VA

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    1. Yeah Brian, just days after swearing over at Roadie's place that all my bikes will be lugged rehabs, I got bit on the butt by that fancy painted lady of Crom's. There is more to tell about this story; for instance Cromwell (without consulting me) went out a month ago and bought the same big 29'r beach cruiser that I wrote about in Walmart Bicycles and Ethical Salvation. We laughed our asses off about our mutual stupidity (we are true blood brothers) then he returned the bike, got his $200 back, added a hundred dollar bill and bought this very REAL bicycle. We both spent some time marveling at how much more bike that extra hundred dollars got him. Just no comparison.

      tj

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    2. Oh yeah further to your Fast Eddy note: Saturday I am going over to Cromwell's Pottery Shop and breaking open his new wheels for a proper clean and lube. The new bike had, shall we say, questionable smoothness and obviously too-tight cones. He is excited as hell about learning how to do the work on his bike and this is a guy who has never once lifted the hood on his car.

      BICYCLES!

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    3. That's great! Bikes are so apparently simple and yet endlessly complex that everyone thinks they can work on them. I once had a favorite mechanic, since deceased, describe derailleurs as a combination of black magic and engineering!

      I'm heading for my first century ride of the year on Sunday, up in the Blue Ridge mountains. Wish me luck! And legs.....

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    4. Go get em' on that century Brian! I know from experience that these early season centuries are a challenge to our bodies.

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    5. Rear derailleurs are pretty straightforward, until you get to the part that you have to think such a thing up out of thin air. Hey Presto! There is some kind of magic in bicycles, to be certain.

      I haven't been on a bicycle for more than thirty-forty miles all in the same day for way over a year now. Embarrassing, to say the least. At the same time, thirty miles is plenty, if you do it right. I owe myself a century to be sure...but for now, I'll just read about yours.

      Get R done!

      tj

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  5. Nice to see you taking up the role of cycling enabler. I dabble in it myself from time to time.
    Welcome back TJ: we've missed you mate.

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    1. There is quite possibly no greater reward than seeing a sixty year old guy smiling like a seven year old as he pedals his new bicycle down the street for the first time. I want to do it again. I want to enable others and I don't know exactly how to do it but Crom texted me earlier today and said he thinks he is ready to try that 30 mile loop I was telling him about.

      Man! What fun! Thanks, Jonathan!

      tj

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  6. Nice one. A man with his own Park work stand is a good man to know. (I'm sure Cromwell would agree.) A man who has a work stand AND knows the value of a beer at the end of a hot Florida day --- that guy's a priceless friend. (Nice to have you back.)

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    1. I wrote a reply to your comment, Marsha, but it seems to have disappeared. I wonder if it was witty? Probably half-witty. Whatever the case, thank you.

      Yours in intermodality,
      Cromwell's Buddy.

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  7. As to the political bent of your post or site.........I'm really not sure which end of the spectrum you fall....does it really matter???? I was reading an article where that loudmouth Hannity dude (aren't they all loudmouths???) was spouting off on how he believes he is the leader of the political war going on out there. I must have missed the whole declaration of war thing.
    As to bikes.....It really can all be about bikes!! At least in our little circle of trust here at the trailer park. I just read the interesting article from your blog list on Nicolas Carmen's interview. Don't fret about your attraction to Cromwell's new ride. Nicolas throws out there on how he feels about the new tech and it really is OK to embrace it all. You don't have to be stuck in the retro-grouch. lugged steel, wool clothing crowd. I am convinced there are bikes for anybody to ride and enjoy. Maybe it is a 35 year old lugged steel beauty or a carbon wonderbike. As long as the rider finds that smile you talk about and improves the core of his soul because of that bike.
    Wouldn't our world be such a more tolerant and peaceful place if people out there could find the peace that a simple bike can give? We could all stop listening to the idiots on TV shouting at us from the left or right side of the pulpit.
    Oh boy.....what is it about your posts that get me rambling???
    Simplicity of engineering, that describes the Park work stand. Nice job stepping up and being the shepherd for your buddy.

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    1. "the important thing is to leave on a trip, not to plan or prepare for it..." Nicholas Carmen.

      I remember when I would borrow five bucks from my brother, throw some underwear and socks (and trail mix, if I had any) into a backpack and walk out into the Florida sunshine and hitchhike to California, like I was going to the corner market for some beer. It usually took four days or so and there it was, the Pacific Ocean, California girls and then, maybe a month or so later, I would borrow five bucks from some new brother and then point my thumb East, and home.

      Now it is all I can do to make it to the corner market for beer.

      tj

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    2. "don't buy stuff"

      Nicholas Carmen

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    3. "sleep outside"

      Nicholas Carmen

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    4. "quit your job, because your life is more important"
      Nicholas Carmen

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    5. TJ, I am humbled. It is not everyone who gets this stuff, or likes it.

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  8. Well, I don't have cable TV, Coach, for some of the same reasons that you mention. That doesn't make me noble. I spend so much time on the internet I might as well be watching reruns of the Andy Griffith Show, (Hulu) which I will do (again) this winter. I didn't have internet last winter. As far as those clowns on Fox (not the Simpsons), I tried to be fair and impartial and give 'em a go during motel hours last year but as far as I am concerned, if any one of them ran into me in a saloon while I was against the wind, as we like to say, there would be trouble. They are obnoxious on purpose (and the women particularly so) and I have no idea who their audience is, but it makes me sorry to know that they are infinitely popular and children and their mothers die in far away places due to the actions of the ideologues who type their copy.

    They (these right-wing jackanapes like that ass-wipe Hannity) are the Al Quaida of America and even that ain't true, they really are nothing, dancing puppets selling fear and hatred and anger and we wonder why there are mass shootings every other day now...

    Makes me miss honest crooks like Dick Nixon and good ol' newsboys like Walter Cronkite. But I don't miss them that much.

    My political stance is to the left, to be sure, but I ain't all that happy with the guy I voted for, twice...and yet, look at the gray hairs on his head. This is a guy who has been working overtime since taking office. His predecessor became more and more child-like as the years (and wars) went by and now he is doing color-by-number paintings of...oh, never mind. Like I said, this Booger ain't political.

    I just have a firm belief that being smart ain't easy and we should all try hard as we can to be as smart as we can be and anytime you run across some smart guy acting dumb on purpose to get votes or approval from those who think smart people are stupid ("they're just book smart, they don't have common sense"...the anthem of the illiterate)...hang on...anytime you run across one of these playing to the least common denominator motherfuckers, change the channel. If you have cable TV, I mean. I don't.

    tj

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    1. Oh yeah, I was headed elsewhere when the politics kicked in...Gypsy Nick has had, maybe, the greatest influence of all cycling writers that I have encountered in my brief career within this hobby/sport/addiction. His straightforward tech talk and his truly heroic riding (did you follow his ride from Alaska to New Mexico a while back? He did it as effortlessly and with the same casual grace as one of my beer runs. More even. Grace, not beer. Well, my beer runs have been, on occasion, particularly graceless. Wait...where was I...) well anyway, he is a Big One in our world and when he recently (a year ago) started using front suspension I said first "WTF" and then, "cool, I want one..." And after test-riding Crom's new scooter, I REALLY want one. Mine will be a twenty niner MTB, though...the Great Divide, the Great Divide...cue dream music...

      tj

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  9. Oh joy, Sunny day here in Seattle, hanging out with my girl this weekend and a new TPC post! Funny dog stories - you took me straight to "Tommy Boy" and Chris Farely doing his Darth Vader with a fan, making fun of W and crew always good fun and WRENCHING! What an awesome post. Ol' Crowell is a luck man to have the TPC wrench and his Park work-stand in his corner. Thanks Tim Joe

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    1. I did the work at his busy pottery shop and customers were more interested in the work going on with the bicycle and the shiny new bike than the pottery. For just a second there I Walter Mitty'd into the ether and there I was, a master of both wit and wrench, operator of the most popular bike shop in town, hero to children and friend of all...

      someday, maybe in the next life or the one after that...

      tj

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    2. Tim Joe's mobile bike repair ...wit and wisdom at no extra charge. Will wrench for Rum....Have work stand will travel.... just spitballing here man

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  10. In case you haven't experienced the joy that is the late great Chris Farley in Tommy boy.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRtuwBvqV5c&feature=kp

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    1. I like Tommy Boy. That movie was cast so well. One of the few times I liked David Spade. BEES!!!!!

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  11. The power trip must be an incredible payoff for those guys. If you are the President, to have half the people in the country hate you, and the other half thinking that you walk on water....that would be so weird. It must be about the power because while it is lucrative it is not the huge billions of dollar money thing.

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    1. Jim, some of them are born to it, and for others it is a calling. Bill Clinton was as improbable as hell, and for a guy with a name that sounds Al Queida as all get out to become the first black president tells you just how awful those other guys were. And yet, they keep getting elected.

      Hey! Nazis were popular once also, in certain circles. But right now, the Republican Party and Congress are the worse thing to happen to this country in our history. They are intent on nothing other than blocking any efforts to fix our country in the name of refuting the popular vote that put a (conservative) liberal in charge of things...Obama is more white than black and more right wing than left...his lap dog Chief of Staff is running Chicago in such a way as to make either Daley blush.

      The overview is this: America thrived as a military-industrial complex when the foe was so unsustainable that we could do nothing but win. The military-industrial model, in our own time, was as literally simple as nuts and bolt (and guns and bullets). But these days, nothing is simple. Everybody knows everything all the time. So these days, we all live in fifty shades of gray, in more ways than one.

      God, listen to me stump-jump. I'm a real stump-jumper.

      There was a pretty cool Kevin Klein movie called "Dave" I think. I base all my political thinking on that movie, and all my ethical thinking on the other Kevin, Spacey: K Pax. Watching these two films told me all I need to know about Life, the Universe, and the number 42.

      I'm glad we cleared all this up.

      tj








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    2. Plus I would be remiss at full disclosure were I to fail to admit that there is a certain Gutenberg publication that I have read front to back, more than once.

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  12. Sigourney Weaver as the hot First Lady. I liked that movie. The scene where he sits down at the cabinet meeting and solves the budget issues.

    There was a summer when I was in college that I dedicated my summer reading project to get through that book. I was too far into a science curriculum to buy into all the fiction so I set it aside after a few books.

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  13. To each his own. To every season there is a purpose. Lo, tho I pedal...in fact, maybe if I were to re-write the Bible but with bicycles...

    You studied science? Don't get me started on the season where she blinded me with science.

    Always yer pal, tj

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  14. "Lo, tho I pedal"......excellent.

    I got my useful degree in Biological Science after an aborted attempt in the pre-med program.

    A BS in BS has always been my claim to my college career

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