Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

19 December 2014

Other Decorations Can't Hold A Candle To This!

I know that during the four-plus years I've been writing this blog, I've written a few Christmas-themed posts.  I have shown bicycles used as props for Christmas lights and other decorations and, a couple of days ago, an ugly Christmas sweater with cycling reindeer.  A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a diatribe against buying your kids (or the kids in your life) department-store bikes for Christmas.

Now, I'm assuming that some of you, my dear readers, are Jewish--or, at least observe Hanukkah in some fashion. I haven't forgotten about you.  How could I, after coming across this?:

This, and other menorahs, can be found here.

Hanukkah, of course, commemorates the victory of an army of Jewish Maccabees over a Greek occupying force that vastly outnumbered them.  The Maccabees thought they had enough oil to last only for one night, but their menorah burned for eight days and nights.

Given the role that bicycles have played in the military, it's hard not to wonder how things might have turned out if one side or the other had bicycles. For that matter, would Moses have had to spend forty years wandering the desert if he had two wheels and two pedals?

All right:  I'll stop before I start offending anyone's religious senibilities (if I haven't already done that).  Happy Hanukkah!

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.