I ordered some ball bearings from an eBay seller; they came today. Soon I'll start putting the Schwinn back together.
I'm trying to keep as many of the original parts on it as I can. However, I'm not at all interested in historical authenticity, as I plan to use the bike for errands and such, and it will spend a lot of time parked on streets. Plus, the paint is in such rough shape that re-painting it would mean that it's not period-correct, anyway.
Of course, I'm replacing the things that should be replaced: brake cables and pads, and tires. And I'm changing the handlebars to the Milan bars I got from Velo Orange.
Probably my biggest indulgence on the bike will be the Velo Orange fenders. Actually, they're not expensive--maybe five dollars or so more than plastic fenders. But they look like a luxury. At least I can justify them: Metal fenders have always lasted longer than plastic ones for me.
As I talk about rebuilding a bike, I am still thinking about what I noticed the other day: the absence of female cyclists in some parts of this city. Even in neighborhoods like mine, or Park Slope or Williamsburg or any other neighborhood where one is likely to find women on bikes, there aren't many my age. And, I suspect, there are even fewer women of my age, or any age, who are tearing apart and rebuilding a bike, as I am.
For that matter, there aren't very many women who've taken the sorts of bike tours that I've taken, or had the amount and breadth of cycling experience I have.
I can't help but to wonder: Had I been born with XX chromosomes and raised as a female, would I be reconstructing the Schwinn? Would I have been able to specify how I wanted my Mercians to be built? And, would I have--a week after getting my undergraduate degree--gotten on a plane to London with my bike, a couple of changes of clothes, my camera, a couple of notebooks and a few packs of condoms?
If I hadn't taken that trip, would I have taken the others? Would I be cycling today?