I've got the LeTour in rideable condition. I'm still going to tweak it a bit. But it's close to what I want it to be.
Early this evening, after the weather had cooled a bit, I took it on a test ride through the back streets of Astoria and Long Island City. I ended up in Astoria Park, which is separated from Manhattan, Randall's Island and the Bronx by a strait known as Hell Gate.
This bridge is named for the passage it spans. Do you think it looks like a gate to Hell?:
If you've taken the Amtrak/Acela between Boston and New York, you've gone over this bridge. The span behind it is the Queens-to-Randalls Island spur of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, which was known as the Triboro Bridge until a couple of years ago.
The waters are deceptively calm. The strong undercurrent wrecked ships and drowned sailors, which is how the passage got its name.
But you didn't come to this blog to read about that, right? You want to read about a middle-aged woman riding a bike she just fixed, don't you?
Well, the bike is actually a smooth, almost cushy ride. Yet it feels very solid. That last part didn't surprise me: Schwinn had a reputation for building sturdy bikes, and this one was made in Japan by Panasonic. The second shop in which I worked sold Panasonics, and I assembled a couple hundred of them. Even their cheapest models were easier to assemble, and required less tweaking, than most other bikes.
It won't be as responsive as my Mercians. It wasn't designed that way. But I have the feeling it will be very satisfactory for errands and commutes.
When I got to Astoria Park, I made another interesting discovery about the bike. It's an aesthetic consideration.
If you've been reading this or my other blog, you have some idea about my tastes in colors. I like purple, especially lavender, lilac and violet, best. I also favor most shades of blue, green and pink. But I can see why orange is a popular bike color. I actually think this bike looks better in orange than in the other colors in which Schwinn offered the Le Tour series. Even more interesting, though, is a quality revealed in this photo:
As ratty as the paint job is, it still has a nice glow to it in the dusk light. In a way, it made me think of all of those weatherbeaten and even somewhat grimy brick buildings that mirror the sun setting at the end of the day.
OK, so this one came out a bit darker than I hoped it would. But here's another shot, taken in the same light, of the bike:
And here's one taken a bit earlier:
As I mentioned, the bike is almost complete. I'm going to add a bell to the handlebar (the Velo Orange Milan Bar which, so far, I really like on this bike) and a pair of Wald folding baskets to the rear rack. I have a feeling those might be the best solution for commuting as well as shopping: I can simply put grocery bags or my bookbag into one or the other.
Until next time....I'll spare you the cliches about riding into the sunset or crossing that bridge when I get to it!