Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

18 December 2014

A Prewar Anglo Continental

After yesterday's serious post, I thought I'd give my dear readers a bit of relief.  Specifically, I'm going to offer something I assume most of you like:  bike porn.

Specifically, I'm offering up bike elderporn.  Here is a 1939 Claud Butler Anglo Continental bike:

The bike was refinished but, from what I've gathered in my research, it now looks something like it would've looked the day it left CB's shop.

All of the components are period-correct.  I wondered about the Bluemels fenders, but a bit of research showed that they were making plastic (celluloid) fenders (mudguards) and flaps, side guards, handlebar coverings and gear cases as early as 1908.  They also made a pump with a press-fit nozzle (like Silca or pre-HPX Zefal) that eliminated the need for a connection that needed to be screwed onto the valve.

Everything on the bike is British, with the exception of the French-made Rigida alloy rims.  One part I find truly interesting is the Lauterwasser bars.  To me, they look like inverted North Road bars with more drop--which, I would expect, would make them more appropriate for a "path racer" than North Road or moustache bars.  A few years ago, Soma introduced a bar with the same name.  It seems to have less drop, but a little bit more of a forward bend, than the original Lauterwasser.

This bike would be quite the conversation-starter, wouldn't it?


17 December 2014

The Day Begins; It Is Dawn--For Whom?

This semester, I've been teaching early morning classes.  When the term began, I was pedaling in bright, often shadowless, pre-dawn light.  But as the season deepened into fall, I was seeing sunset and, after Daylight Savings Time ended, I was getting to work just as the sun was rising.  

All of that has meant seeing what people don't.  You've seen some examples in some of my earlier posts.  Some of the sights were just lovely; others had their own grittier kinds of poetry.  This morning I saw an example of both:

Speaking of gritty poetry:  As I took this photo--with my cell phone, on Randall's Island near the Bronx spur of the RFK/Triboro Bridge--some verses streamed through my mind:

La aurora de Nueva York gime
por las inmensas escaleras 
buscando entre las aristas
nardos de anguista dibujada.

It's the second stanza of Federico Garcia Lorca's "La Aurora" ("The Dawn") and can be translated something like this:

The dawn in New York grieves
along immense stairways
seeking among the groins
spikenards of fine-drawn anguish.

Perhaps recalling those verses was a harbinger of what I would see as I descended the ramps on the Bronx side of the spur:

I've seen him before.  Actually, I've never seen him:  I've only seen the blanket and recognize the way he swaddles himself in it.  Once, I got a glimpse of his face poking out of his bundle.  I don't think he knows:  He was still sleeping, as he was today.

Usually, he's in the corner, curled up as if he were in the womb, his first--and, perhaps, only--home.  I had never seen him unfurled until this morning.  And, even though he was less than a meter from his usual spot, it was startling to see him there.  I can't blame him for moving there:  It rained heavily a couple of hours after midnight, and spot is probably the driest place he could find outside of a building that wouldn't allow him in.  

At least it wasn't difficult to see him.  So, I was able to stop, dismount, lift my bike and tiptoe around him.  I did not want to wake him, let alone rend one of the few shreds of dignity he has left.

Unfortunately, he's far from the only homeless person I see during my commutes.  He's just the one I've seen most often, I think.

16 December 2014

Ugly Christmas Sweater For Cyclists (Pity The Poor Reindeer)

I can say, in all honesty, that I do not have an ugly Christmas sweater.  Really, I don't.

OK, I have a tacky Christmas sweatshirt.  Don't ask how long I've had it.  I think I wear it once or twice every year, before the holiday.  I make a kind of game with it:  I try to sneak through some part of my daily life--going to a store, seeing a friend or even going for a bike ride--just to see whether anyone notices.    As far as I know, no one has a photo of me donning that dreadful vestment.

I assure you that my gaudy garment is far more of an offense against any known aesthetic than this:

Available from lastearth on Etsy.

Still, whoever transposed those unfortunate ungulates onto that ugly garment should be arrested for cruelty to animals, even though the poor deer are animated or inanimate, depending on your point of view.

Oh, and the uncomely chemise is available in two other colors--Smurf blue or a shade of red even Taylor Swift wouldn't allow to be painted on her nails--if the shade of green you see in the photo is too much--or not ugly enough--for you.