04 December 2017

A Reunion, A Ride Into The Sunset--And Congee

So, it looks like my "meeting in Kool Orange" might be turning into a friendship.  Or, at least, a cycle-buddy relationship.

Yes, Bill and I went for a ride the other day.  He was on his Kool Orange Schwinn Sports Tourer from 1971, and I pedaled my 1981 Trek 412.  

I know:  I have to post a photo of it on my sidebar, with my other bikes.  I've had it almost a year now.  It's still a work in progress, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to keep it--even after I get the Mercian Vincitore Special I've ordered!

Anyway, Bill--who said he'd been feeling a bit under the weather--was moving at a rather sprightly pace through the backstreets of industrial Brooklyn when we chanced upon a shop in Bushwick.

"Can I help you."

"No, just want to take a look. Any shop with two Bob Jacksons looks promising."

Those bikes were, as it turned out, an entree, an appetizer or whatever you want to call it.  Haven Cycles has quite the selection of vintage bikes:  I noticed, among other bikes, a classic Raleigh Competition, a Schwinn Paramount track bike and a Serotta track bike equipped with Shimano's 10-pitch gearing and gold-anodized Super Champion Arc en Ciel tubular rims.  There was even a Raleigh ten-speed made for the British market (it had the lamp holder brazed to the front fork) and the usual selection of ten- and twelve-speed bikes converted to single-speed city machines--including a lovely metallic lavender Motobecane.

I was especially taken with the Bob Jackson of Robin, the co-owner, who outfitted the bike with Surly's best rear rack, a White Industries triple crankset, Phil Wood hubs and, of course, a Chris King headset.  The frame was intended for loaded touring, and that's how Robin equipped it.

Anyway, she left a comment on my post from the other day, describing an incident later that day that bore too much similarity to the ones I described in that post.  She and co-owner Jon were, fortunately, able to re-unite a stolen bike with its rightful owner a year after it went missing.

After our visit, Bill and I continued riding through back streets of Brooklyn and Queens on a chilly but beautiful late fall-verging-into-early winter day.  He--a photographer--commented that the day's light, as lovely as it was, looked more like early winter.  I agreed and couldn't help but to notice that the day definitely felt like winter once we started crossing the bridges over Jamaica Bay into the Rockaways and back into Brooklyn, near Floyd Bennett Field.

Yes, we rode into the sunset.  Please don't read too much into that:  We rode into the sunset, but not off into the sunset!

Anyway, after that, we rode to his place and he introduced me to King's Kitchen, one of the many Chinese restaurants in his neighborhood: in Sunset Park, right next to the namesake park and a few blocks from Maimonidies Hospital and a point where Asian, Hispanic and Hasidic communities converge.

Few things warm the bones after a cold ride like a bowl of congee!  In all, it was a day of happy endings, wouldn't you say?


  1. Hi Justine,

    That was a fun ride and the Haven Cycles shop visit was a highlight!

    Do you recall if Robin's cranks were VBC?

    They sure looked like blocky aluminum goodness, with some nice curves.

    VBC seems like an ingenious system for easily updating front chain ring configurations, I wonder how the cranks handle?

    I'm not sure how much use I'd get from the VBC system since I don't normally consider re-configuring my gears.

    I find there's something really affecting about winter light, it's soothing and beautiful, and at the same time a bit melancholic.

    Maybe it's similar to what Ingmar Bergman had in mind with his film Winter Light?

    1. Robin here! They're White Industries cranks that Jon (my partner) found at the T-Town swap earlier this year for a steal of a deal.

      And thanks for the shoutout, Justine--totally made our day!! :D

    2. Robin--Thanks! I'll be back. (I won't do an Arnold Schwarznegger imitation, I promise!)

  2. I briefly had a Schwinn Super Sport but it didn't really fit and had been badly fixied and I ended up selling it on. But it really was a sweet-handling bike, and the colors used for the fillet-brazed Schwinns--especially the orange!--are my hands-down favorite bike colors to this day.

  3. Eli--Too bad it didn't fit. You would've had a sweet bike.

    Bill--Yes, that was a fun ride and visit. Perhaps the spirit of Bergman was following us.

    I only saw Robin's cranks from the left side, so I don't recall whether they were VBC.

  4. I have noticed that when I ride my Mercian on a group ride it is MY bike that gets all the attention from passers by..despite the fact that I am lost in a sea of super expensive carbon. There is something about vintage and hand built bikes.. a bit like boys ( or even grown men ! ) with steam locomotives as opposed to ultra modern and efficient electric trains

    1. Peter--I, too, get compliments on my Mercians from folks who ride the latest carbon fiber contraptions. I think you're right: vintage and handbuilt bikes have an appeal--a "soul", if you will--that most current bikes can't match.