Monday, August 29, 2011

I'm Popeye the Bicycle Man

To Be Or Not To Be
Man, I'm thinking about shutting down this Blog. Is that a form of suicide? Blogular self destruction? Who knows? I have a blast writing it, but sometimes I feel that I am short-changing both my readers if I don't kick ass at every outing.  Bike Snob does it. He consistently kept me laughing  at the beginning of my velo addiction and still does so unto this very day.   But really, how hard is it to take topical cycling news and lambast it? Snobby is hilarious and makes me LOL daily but let's face it, Lenny Bruce was funny too and look how he ended up.  Just kidding,  Wildcat.  Sort of...

A Giant Problem
I can't help but sometimes feel guilty when I keep telling about flat tires and inept cycle wrenching. I really do that stuff but who cares? What I am trying to do is share the truth that you don't have to wear super hero clothes and spend thousands of dollars for a bicycle to get out on two wheels and have fun doing it. For example: Miss Jo the new Trailer Park manager has a crusty old Giant MTB she found buried in the storage shed here at Whispering Pines Trailer Park and wants me to “Fix it.” She has been listening to me rant about bikes and got a kick out of reading about herself on my Booger and wants to get in on this “Bicycle Thing”.

Well, I am after all the Head (Only) Big Man In Charge Of Fix-It at the Park so I guess the challenge is mine to meet. Her Giant isn't a bad bike at all. It is steel (real) and wearing good-enough Shimano stuff.

So I will hang her bike in the stand and do my best. I'll make a bunch of mistakes and take forever to finish simple tasks and have arguments with the Voice and yes, I'll write about it.

What's Good For The Goose
That bad-ass old Schwinn of mine ain't the only bike I own. I also have a beat up old Mongoose Alta from the Year Of The Lord 1991 that is just as dear to my heart as the Le Tour. I had the village blacksmith English Peter chop off the vertical rear hangers and mig-weld on some gigantic BMX style horizontal whatever ya call 'ems and then removed all the dangling stuff and replace it with a short section of PVC where the cassette used to be and stuck on a single 14 tooth cog. For tires I installed a pair of Geax 1.6 Street Runners. Now she is a a fun sub-twenty pound single speed neighborhood blaster that I ride like a kid and if you guys don't have one, you should. One of Black Mountain Mike's well-heeled customers built a high-end similar bike  but as I told Mike, mine's the Trailer Park version . Which makes it more better funner 'cause I can slam around on it and trouble be damned.

Blame It On the Limes
That poor old-school Mongoose has been sitting in the corner for two months now waiting for a new rear wheel. I won't go into detail about what happened to the old rear wheel but it involved hub rebuilding while drinking and not keeping track of how Shimano did it the first time and then carelessly sweeping carefully laid put parts off the bench in order to throw down the cutting board and my tequila knife and the limes and the shot glasses and what happened later.

Coyote Again
But a couple days ago I was walking around doing deep philosophical discourse with my old friend Coyote in his trailer-yard and noticed a crusty 26 inch rear wheel stuffed up under his trailer.

“What's that bicycle wheel?” I asked, trying to sound indifferent. Coyote is a coyote.

“Nothing. You can have it.” I picked it up, brushing off the dirt and noticing the Shimano hub. I have just the tool to remove that cassette and rig this wheel up for my old Mongoose, I was thinking.

“Well, if you don't want it, I'll see if I can do anything with it,” I said.

“OK”, Coyote said.

Well, this was no steal of a deal. I steel-wooled the spokes and re-packed the bearings and scrubbed the rims for an hour or two. Then I started truing the wheel and learned a little painful learning about galvanized spokes and frozen nipples. (And I don't mean the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition kind.) Three spokes broke during the tuning process. I handily scrounged new spokes by cannibalizing the old Tequila Wheel, weaving them in and moving on. After an enjoyable Zen afternoon I found myself doing lazy figure eights in the Trailer Park Parking lot, re-enjoying my old friend the Goose and wondering about why all my best bicycle stuff seems to arrive via the Coyote.

Oh Yeah,  I Moved A Little
For example: Since the Blonde invited me to move into a different trailer, Coyote and his Ms. have been inundating me with food. Good food, too, as anyone familiar with what is sometimes called Southwest Cuisine will attest to. The other night, while I was burping on his veranda, he pulled out a very worn black leather tool roll.

“I was cruising down US One on the way home today and this bag fell off a guy on a Harley,” he said. He handed it to me. “Can you use it?” I took the stiff leather thing from my old friend and opened it.

“Any hundred dollar bills in here?” I asked. Then I noticed a small zippered pouch. “Hey, Coyote. Did you notice this little secret stash pouch?” He reached over for the bag, but I Know Coyote and held it out of reach. “Let me just look in here,” I said. The zipper was rusted but I got it open only to find a very worn old wooden-handled screwdriver. I held it up to the light of the fading sundown, then handed it to Coyote.

“Well,” he said, “You know:  Harley's.”   I nodded sagely.

“Thanks for the bag, though, brother,” I said. He gave me a little Coyote look.

“How much?” I asked.

“Five dollars?”


Thanks,  Coyote !
And so, like my twenty dollar Schwinn Super Le Tour that has become my long rider, like the wheel that saved the Goose, I now have this really cool black leather tool bag hanging from the saddle of my road bike, perfect in every way and it all somehow comes channeling through this kooky guy that I have known for so many years now and who somehow seems to be my personal cycling angel.  Which is really funny,  if you knew Coyote.

OK,  Back To Bicycles:  Today I Rode
Today I shook off the trailer park induced lethargy and repair chaos that has kept me off the bike and in the dumps and went for one of my little checking on the Ocean rides. It has sadly been three weeks since my ass has kissed the saddle. I decided trailers be damned I'm going for a ride and started out into the first real sunny morning since Irene the Hurricane graciously failed to grace our coast. It would be a nice, slow ride to the beach and maybe a quick spin back.

But no.
How Fast?
As I started limbering up my rusty legs along the river road a guy blasts by me on a Trek Y-Foil. I caught a glimpse of this sixty year old or so guy, said to myself Phred Is Dead and put the hammer down. But this was no Fred. This guy was lean and mean and had legs like a locomotive. No big deal, I think, I'll maintain a respectful distance and see what this pace is like. Faster than I want to ride, though. Why do these guys always go so fast? Or is it just when I'm around? I was really pleased with this gentleman, though. These guys usually look back about ten seconds or so after The Pass. This dude never did. He doesn't even know this homeless guy is about ten yards off his wheel and pacing.

Then he looked.

This is the moment of truth to me. Just once I would like for one of these guys to say, “Damn, not bad riding for a Hobo,” and then slack up and see what I am about. But they never do. What they do is turn back around and fall into the drops and start crankin' away like they expect me to pull up alongside and ask for some spare hhange or something.

So he poured it on and I poured it on and now he can't help himself, he keeps looking back and I'm always there and now my mellow morning ride has devolved into a life and death struggle.

Life and Death Is What You Make Of It
I'm not fast, guys. It's just that these Peacocks aren't always  fast either. They think they are, and listen, this guy was tearing me up and was after all, older than me which is pretty damned old. But then, mercifully, the turn-off for the beach came up and he kept going and I turned off.

I gave my best and loudest Trailer Park whistle and he turned and I waved and yelled Thanks! And that was that.

Time For the Philosophy
Why do I do it? I'm not sure. I have been criticized in print for “messing” with people who are on their “training rides.” How so? I'm not wheel sucking. I stay pretty far back. I'm not messing with them until they look back and are stunned to see this guy on a Crappy Old Ten Speed wearing flip flops and needing a shave Is still there. They were expecting to see a bedraggled dot on the horizon. And one time when I was catching up to a group ride I was passing this lovely girl, obviously part of the group, although a dropped part of the group. She was crying. Those fuckers had dropped her and not one of those super heroes had laid back to give her a pull or a word of encouragement.

So I guess that is why I do it.

I Am What I Yam
Hang with me, gang. The Ol' TPC is having such a rough time at the Whispering Pines lately that I find myself once again dreaming of a nice little Thirty Footer hand built by Yours Truly. I got the tools and I got the talent. What I ain't got is the pile of wood and the gumption.

Anybody sitting on a barn load of oak, spruce and cedar?

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Boat Yard


  1. Glad to see you back Velo Brother, you haven't sent out any duds yet so I really don't expect you to start now which is my way of saying keep on posting! Now about the "Crappy old Ten Speed"Line, Dude now your pickin' on my hobbies!



  2. Even if u post only Once A Month, it's worth the wait.

  3. I saw that you had posted and I could not wait to get to work and read what you had to say!


    Speaking of riding older bikes. I ride a 90's model Trek 2300. Last night at a group ride a guy looked at the bike and then looked at me and said, "you think you can keep up?" I made sure he saw the back end of my old Trek the entire ride!


  4. Hey, Tim Joe - I don't read you 'cause you write like BSNYC or Fatty - I read you 'cause I like the way you write. I expect there are others of us as well. Don't sweat the content, write what you feel. Some of us wish we could put our feelings down, but can't. Well, I can't, anyway.


  5. Tim,

    I think Berry touches on the issue - people are reading your blog not because your adventures are world shattering, but because they enjoy you're writing and philosophy (don't get a big head!) It's great to see someone who doesn't feel it necessary to have $200 of lycra and team jerseys & socks to go out for a ride.

    As for old ten speeds, I just recently discovered my mid-80's Puch stashed away in my mother's basement. I rescued it and moved it to my basement - where it silently sits, asking for new wheels and a derailleur. Sure would like to get the old girl on the road again...

    Steve Z

  6. Tim Joe, I have been waiting for the next episode to see what's happening in the Trailer Park. As I grew up kinda white trash you speak my language. Keep those updates coming.. I have a stuffy guy I see on my ride every day and I always say hello he ignores me completely so now I have whole conversations (without him answering) as I pass him by. Now I am pretty sure he thinks I am nuts..well I am but what does that matter..

  7. Don't make me come down there and kick you into writing. I fell off my own blog wagon and am having a hard time getting back on so you have to keep me inspired!

    Look at it this way...if I was that dedicated to BSNYC I wouldn't be commenting here. Besides, Snob and Fatty have their zillions of witty, high-tech, cutting edge followers who wouldn't give you and me the time of OFGs have to stick together in our own little Trailer Parks and Wayward Homes. Where better to hang out among friends?

  8. Lookit, TJC, every time I think about killing my blog someone says something that keeps me working at it. So whatever that is for you, it was just said. Don't make me resort to threats and jocular asides! Really. Sheesh. - Zig

  9. OFG's on OTS's I like it Wayward. Talk about your market segmentation

  10. Jungle Jim just dropped by for a cup of coffee and I started whining about what a mundane life I have had. "All I've ever done with my life is build stuff and ride motorcycles and bicycles and sail and fish," I complained. He looked at me and we both burst out laughing.

    Thanks for the support, guys. I ain't goin' nowhere. August is my Whining Season and now it is over. TJ

  11. I'm baaaaack!

  12. I, too, enjoy your posts, brother. Bike Snob can actually be too prolific, it's hard to find the time to read them all. We'll wait until you have something to say, and look forward to the next. Good job.

  13. TJ,
    good writing as always. It's your style that I'm interested in reading, not Snobby's. Those folks who pass us always entertain me. They're good for about 50' then settle in to about the same pace as the passee.
    You wrote about that girl who was dropped. I've spent lots of time on a "group ride" as that person. I'm pretty sure that's why I tend to ride drag if I can't stay with the big dogs. One end of the group or the other.

    Looking forward to reading your next posts.


  14. I love the posts about when you encounter the other cyclists, especially when you start feeling competitive. If you had a super light, fast shifting modern marvel, you'd be blowing them all away! I hope one day, a rep from a bike company reads your blog and gives you free stuff, like a bike. I'd love to hear your opinions on the differences. I have a feeling that although you'd love and appreciate the technology of it, you'd feel something was missing. The trusty Schwinn has a great deal of sweat equity, and you can't just buy that!