Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Continuing Journey Through Bikeland

It seems like bikes are my only break from school, which isn't actually a bad thing.  I can not only enjoy my bikes during school without setting aside extra time, but cycling is actually always faster in Ann Arbor than taking the bus.  Lately, the Ross Gran Tour has been doing a whole lot of sitting around while my old Raleigh Sports has been doing most of the "waking me up and carrying me to class every day" business.  This also isn't a bad thing.

I decided to ride the Ross to class a few days ago and I had to slam on the brakes for a pedestrian.  The front brake cable snapped inside the lever, but luckily I was barely doing 3 mph to begin with. Man, the cables on my Raleigh are far older and still put up with my hard squeezing every day just fine.  Shows the quality, I guess.  Making my way home with next to zero braking power, I contemplated converting the ailing bike to a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed coaster brake hub, or even fixed-gear, for maximum durability and minimum maintenance.  It probably won't happen.  Either way, the Ross will be sitting once again until I get around to dealing with the brake cable.

On a related note, I found an exact twin! My bike is pictured to the left (before I got it running), the other bike to the right. The serial number said it was made in June '78, whereas mine was made February '79 and it looks like the original 10-speed gears and hardware are still there.  Its paint and frame are much less chipped and rusty than mine, but both forks seem to suffer from the same rusty-dusty road rash.  Unlike my bike, this bike looks to be well cared for and still has all its parts.

In other news, surprise! I'm actually employed now, and my job deals with bikes.  Once again, my break from school is bike-related.  Since I work at the times of day that I used to sit around getting no homework done, it doesn't take away from my schoolwork.  I work as the mechanic/maintenance guy for the local bike share and feel incredibly fortunate to get paid doing what I love.  After that, it's easy to sit down and do homework after I spend hours "playing" with bikes. I have a desk at work, but I don't actually use it very much: I spend more time traveling between stations servicing bikes while my trusty Raleigh serves as my desk/lunch table/pickup truck.  I like it that way.  I also drive a UPS-like Ford E450 step van to balance the stations and I'll say this: I prefer the ancient, 10-foot wide truck over the new company hybrid cars with their super-isolating ride.  I feel like this might become another rant worthy of future posting.

On my way back from work today, I took a different route than the usual.  I went across the dam directly behind the office and snapped a few photos (pardon the poor phone-quality images).  I managed to skip the road bridge and did not have to waste energy going up and back down.  If I didn't have to carry my bike over active railroad tracks, I'd make this my regular route.

Here's an interesting bike that I've seen a couple times.  It seems to be a steel Dutch commuter of some kind, maybe 15-30 years old.  I've tried Google searching "Wilhelmina bike" but not a single bit of information came up.  

I really like how that bike has older Sturmey-Archer drum brakes.  These things, as well as the headlight bottle generator and the closed chain case, show that the owner is or was likely a serious commuter cycler.  The 3-speed shifter, not pictured here, is the black face one produced from the '70s to the '90s or something.

There's also this old Phillips that parks at the Architecture school that's super similar to my bike.  Its rear fender has been replaced with a plastic one and the rear brake cable is unhooked, possibly because the wide fender gets in the way of the brakes.  The owner should swap the pink Kool-stop pads up to the front if that's the case.  The shifter, if it's original, is from the early '70s but I haven't been able to see the printed date on the Sturmey-Archer hub to make sure.  I really like how the area between the lugs on the head tube is white and the "Phillips" script on the down tube is really cool.  I've been trying to find out who rides it.