Saturday, December 24, 2016

Too Fat to Wear Them

Did a bit of digging through boxes recently, and discovered a couple gems from my ancient past that have now become decor in The Cycle Test Laboratory:

As the post title indicates, I am well beyond the point where these jerseys will stretch over my ample girth. The one on the right is slightly larger, so I made the mistake of trying it on. Let's just say it's a good thing polyester doesn't get stretch marks.

I keep these around, though, because they take me back to my cycling past. The one on the left came from my very first bike shop gig at the now-defunct Grummert's Cycling and Fitness in my hometown of Sterling, Illinois. We weren't much of a bike shop, just a corner of a local hardware store, but that little corner is where I caught the bug for bike mechanicking. The jersey was team kit for the Northwest Illinois Bicycle Club team, co-sponsored by us and the other shop in town, the also-defunct Mr. K's Mud, Sweat and Gears in neighboring Rock Falls, Illinois. The two shops had a bit of a falling out around the time I started working for Grummert's, so there really wasn't a "team" any more, just a box of jerseys. A much younger, much thinner me still wore that tennis-ball-yellow abomination with pride, though.

The jersey on the right was the team kit for the now-defunct (are you noticing a pattern here?) Laurel Highlands Schwinn in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, a shop where I worked for my pal Bill. I never actually raced for Bill (he had more sense than that), but the jersey was the uniform for our weekly shop rides. We even wore them during our legendary Coasting Contests, which was probably the worst advertisement for a shop ever: "Hey, look at all those idiots in matching shirts, desperately trying not to fall over at 1 mile per hour!" The shorts that went with the jersey were perhaps the most comfortable cycling shorts I have ever stretched over my arse, and I should have cleaned Bill out of them when I left.

Of course, these days, I'm happy to slap on a t-shirt and baggy shorts when I ride, but it's nice to see these memories hanging in the garage every time I head out, reminding me of old friends, fun times, and a much skinnier me.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Writing a Bicycle Blog is Just Like Riding a Bicycle

... which is to say that I often fall down and skin my knees while doing it.

So, um, let's just pretend that long hiatus never happened, and get back to our usual drivel, shall we?

When last we left our intrepid blogmeister, he was returning from what he described as a "commute." Turns out, that was a fib. Something untrue on the Internet?!? What?!?

I was actually returning from *class* (which is technically a commute, but still). See, starting this Fall, I decided to take advantage of a little tuition benefit I get thanks to Dear Spouse's employer and return to college, studying the Computer Sciences. I have it on good authority that while these computer things may seem like a flash in the pan now, they're gonna catch on, so I want to get out in front of it.

Being as this is a blog about bikes (and that you likely couldn't care less about my midlife crisis), how about something related to both my schooling and bikes? The institute of higher learning I attend happens to be one Drake University (go Bulldogs!), and one of the cool things Drake (the school, not the rapper) has instituted just this year is a Bike Library, which looks a little something like this:

Show your student ID, and you can sign one of these practical-looking beauties out for free, ride it wherever your little heart desires, and return it whenever you're done. Being a bike nerd (duh), I had to ID the brand and model, which (as far as I can tell) is the Sun Fritz 5-speed... upright riding position, equipped with urban necessities like fenders, rack, and kickstand, low-maintenance internally-geared hub and caliper brakes. Basically, a Raleigh Sports for the 21st century. Smart spec for this application.

I haven't taken one out for a spin yet since I'm usually astride my mutant take on a Raleigh Sports when I'm on campus, but perhaps in the Spring, I'll test ride one in the interest of blog fodder. I've seen them quite far afield from the Drake campus (which is barely big enough to warrant wheeled transportation), out on the network of trails around Des Moines, so it would appear that my fellow students are putting them to good use.

Oh, and here's a gratuitous bulldog picture:

That charming, jowly fellow is Griff, the current Drake "live mascot". The mascot-for-all-eternity is named Spike, but he is represented in actual mortal dog-form by a series of real-life bulldogs, a position currently held by our man Griff shown above. Let me just say that if you find yourself in Des Moines during the Drake Relays, the Beautiful Bulldog Contest is a must-attend event.