8 December 2011

Crazy Mont Ventoux story and an awful bike

First off, read this. This guy is a monster. Read it.
...There are parts of the climb where you ascend 600 feet in a mile. One part of the road is, in the winter, marked as a black-diamond ski trail...
Think about that for a minute.

Anyway, onward now, to one of those things where a person posts all about their bike. A warning: This bike is terrible. I have other bikes that are far better, but I don't think that any of them are anywhere near as interesting or downright great as this thing.

Every bike enthusiast should have a bike like this. A bike that you don't have to baby or ever worry about the expense of replacing it if you wreck it, or if it gets stolen, or if you lend it to someone and it turns out you didn't even know that person, or if you just plain ride it into the ground. As much as nice bikes are great, it's also nice to have a bike that just sucks so much that you never really have to worry about it. It gets you from A-to-B, barely, and that's all you need.

Here it is, faithfully resting at home on the deck.
One night in 2007, I was out with my roomates at a show downtown. As we left, a man told us that someone had thrown a bike into my roomate's truck, and then wandered off without explaining himself further. We dismissed it, and headed home. About half a block away, I turned around to look at something particularly shiny that we were passing and noticed that there was indeed a bike sitting in the bed of the truck (the truck was one of those enormous ones that landscapers such as my old roomate use, so the bike was out of sight from ground level). The bike's wheels were severely contorted, and it generally looked like hell. I immediately called dibs. 

Great fender lines. Great fender attachment. Custom brake extenders.

In the interest of not spending any money at all unless I absolutely had to, I ended up replacing the Venture's mangled 590 wheels with a set of used 559s we had laying around the shop. The hubs are too wide for the frame and the brakes didn't reach, which necessitated some minor futzing to get things to work. But it worked, and has continued to work despite never seeing any maintenance while being stored outside for much of its life.

That duct tape is holding on some corriboard, which is holding together the fender, because the fender is broken in two.  Brake caliper filed out for maximum reach. 
At one point a couple years ago, I walked up to find that someone had stolen my rear wheel. My reaction was to burst out laughing because that rear wheel was absolute trash, and also because I could visualize the thief pinching their fingers as the dropouts sproinged shut once the too-wide hub popped out. I walked up the hill to the shop and grabbed a replacement, using a defective Vee Rubber tire with a bead that is so tight that the tire has a low spot and thumps heavily on every rotation. Even better.

The bike has five speeds, which is a perfectly great number of speeds to have. The chain will come off on a bump, or just because it hates routine, every couple kilometers or so and slip between the chainring and chainguard up front. This is fixed on the fly by skillfully pushing it back on with your foot without messing up your pedalling rhythm. Up front there is a Wald delivery basket, which is pretty much the best way to carry stuff. I'm sure I'll talk about how I think Wald baskets are the greatest thing ever at a later date. Because I do think that, and I'm pretty sure I'm right.

I actually didn't notice the cotter pin problem until I went to take this photo.

The best thing about this bike, though, is that it is actually shockingly fun to ride. Yes, the whole time the rear wheel is going fwump-fwump-fwump, which makes the fenders rattle and can be felt through the seat and bars, and sure the springs on the seat are too soft and sometimes make a weird jarring clunk, and maybe the chain comes off, or the grips twist, or the pedals are slippery, but who cares? The positioning feels great, and riding it feels kind of like being an overgrown kid riding some hand-me-down coaster brake thing with a bald spot on the tire from skidding and everything always on the verge of falling apart, but you don't care because you don't know any better and this is your bike and it's the best bike ever. I think that's the real value of a cobbled-together beater bike. It forces us to get over ourselves and remember how awesome bikes are in general rather than specific bikes or styles of riding or any other thing that we let ourselves get carried away with because we're adults and we have refined adult interests and other such nonsense. Bikes are great. Period. Ride them however you want, wearing whatever you want, but don't forget how much fun it is to not know any better.

Best bike.

1 comment:

  1. Looks sweet. That rack must be really handy to go shopping and stuff.