Monday, April 19, 2010

Choo Choo Ch'Boogie!

Ever get your bicycle wheel caught in the groove next to railroad tracks?

I have, and I know lots of experienced cyclists who have also even though we know better.

On a recent 300k, I saw a rider Karl who was always ahead of me by a kilometer or so for much of the day. Occassionally, I'd see him up ahead on a flatter, straighter section of road. At one point I saw him riding way ahead in the distance. Then I saw what looked like something in the middle of the road. A cow? No. It was Karl, broadside to the road.

As I got to him he was dusting himself off, inspecting his ripped clothing and taking an inventory of the condition his condition was in. He seemed OK excepting the ripped jacket and general banging up one gets from getting one's wheel stuck in the gap between the rail track and the pavement.

He said he just kept going too fast. The track also intersected the road at an oblique angle, and it required an especially cautious approach.

My fall came on a morning commute to work a few years ago. How many times had I crossed those very tracks? Countless.

One side benefit of wider tires is that they don't get caught as easily. That's a benefit I'll have with my new ride with its 650B tires.

In thinking about this post I got this old song stuck in my head: Choo Choo Ch'Boogie. Heard of it?

Written by Darling, Horton and Gabler according to Wikipedia, I first heard it at State College, Pa during my college days. It was performed by our local bar band, Tahoka Freeway. I loved the song, but never fully got the lyrics. 

The song was first performed by Louis Jordan in 1946, and it tells the tale of the returning GI's from WWII. They returned home (once they hit the coast) by train. The song recounts their high expectations for employment opportunities only to find the opportunities not so much. It tells this tale through the refrain of the clickity clacking train.

My Dad came home from the war the same way. My Mum tells the story of how she was in a cab on her way to pick up her returning GI-husband who she hadn't seen at all for the two years he'd spent in Europe. The cabbie figured out that she had asked to go to the wrong train station (imagine more than one train station in any town today!), and he told her she had it wrong! He then took her to the right one where she indeed met my Dad. 

Today, they'd have texted one another that evening and of course would have emailed all along any way. Far cry from the occassional letter over several years!

Since my Dad had worked for Westinghouse before the war and such companies were required to take back the soldiers, he returned to his old job.

Before I veer off further from the subject of getting thrown by the tracks, here is a link to Louis Jordan's version. I prefer the Tahoka Freeway version, a little wilder and with slide steel guitar and beer. Here are the lyrics of Choo Choo Ch'Boogie:

Choo Choo Ch'Boogie

Headin' for the station with a pack on my back

I'm tired of transportation in the back of my hack

I love to hear the rhythm of the clickety clack

And hear the lonesome whistle see the smoke from the stack to pal around

With democratic fellow named mac

So take me right back to the track, jack

Choo-choo, choo-choo, ch'boogie, woo-woo

Woo-woo, ch'boogie, choo-choo, choo-choo, ch'boogie

Take me right back to the track, jack

You reach your destination but you don't go back

You need some compensation to get back in the black

You take a morning paper from the top of the stack

And read the situations from the front to the back

But the only job that's open needs a man with a knack

So put it right back in the rack, jack

Choo-choo, choo-choo, ch'boogie, woo-woo

Woo-woo, ch'boogie, choo-choo, choo-choo, ch'boogie

Take me right back to the track, jack

Gonna settle down by the railroad track

Live the life o'riley in the beat down shack

When i hear a whistle i can peep thru the crack

Watch the train rollin' when it's ballin' the jack

Love to hear the rhythm of the clickety clack

So take me right back to the track, jack

Choo-choo, choo-choo, ch'boogie, woo-woo

Woo-woo, ch'boogie, choo-choo, choo-choo, ch'boogie

Take me right back to the track, jack

Take me right back to the track, jack

Keep it right back to the track,


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Custom Frame Build, More Photos

Extension being ground clean, I think.

Unfinished fillets.

All photos courtesy of builder, Tony Pereira of Pereira Cycles. His Flickr site is here.

For earlier build-up photos and my reaction, see Frame takes form...beautiful, curvaceous form.

For an earlier visit to Tony's shop for a fit and such, see My randonneuring Bicycle, Part 4, Let the Build Begin!

For more posts about this buildup, choose the "custom bicycle" topic in the right sidebar.

Keep it recorded,


Friday, April 16, 2010

Frame takes form...beautiful, curvaceous form!

What is it about a certain bend or curve?

Of a bicycle lug or along the flanks of your lover? Why do we sigh at the gracefulness of a glance, a purse of the lips, the sway of those hips?

To be sure, I didn't need lugs. One could argue that yes, theoretically a tube could be replaced on a lugged bicycle, but that's just not the answer. Choosing lugs was a flourish that cries out: we need beauty--of curves, of a cut-out piece of elegant fruit, of a glint of chrome--in our lives. For while bicycles are near the epitome of practicality in their workhorse, straight-line propulsion, they are also a canvas on which to display our dreams.

It's also true that grace is an indulgence. I am blessed to be able to indulge my curvaceous desires, and I know it. My rationale is I haven't bought a new bicycle for 35 years, so my pent up demand is honestly come by.

And what of the builder, Tony Pereira? Poor Tony is stuck with matching my desire for curves while satisfying my demand for randonneuring practicality. I have fairly badgered him about this dimension or that application.

And Tony is doing it. Even while fussing with 650B tire clearance, he is bringing to reality those curves, those sways.

This is why I went for a custom bicycle. Tony is brazing together proper fit (he is very knowledgable in this, I've never had it, and I'm a bit of an unusual build), randonneuring specs, and artistic sensibilities. And Tony is also a cyclist's builder. He rides hard and clearly loves the act of cycling even as he's got a tinkerer's mind.

Simply put, Tony's job is the alchemy of transforming my persnicketyness into function formed from often conflicting notions.

I took my first lesson on bicycle maintenance this week (all to be told in a future post), and each in our class is working on clunky, mass-produced, plastic-rimmed, tassled children's bikes. And yes these fat-tired, funky-saddled, little bicycles are beautiful too! Every bicycle is a beauty for all that it represents and does.

But hand craftmanship is too rare today. Thanks, Tony.

For more photos of the actual lugged frame, see Custom Frame Build, More Photos.

For my visit to Tony's shop for fitting and such, see My Randonneuring Bicycle, Part 4, Let the Build Begin!.

For Tony's Flickr site, go here.

For more posts about this buildup, choose the "custom bicycle" topic in the right sidebar.

Keep it curvaceous,


Thursday, April 15, 2010

I love this...but don't quite get it

I found this framed print outside the bathroom at the Potbelly Sandwich Works restaurant during a recent visit to our nation's capital. I understand the stove symbolism (Potbelly), but what's with the dueling high wheeler dudes?

I've always liked high wheelers so that's good enough for me, but any guesses?

If you like them too, here are a few previous posts having something, anything to do with highwheelers:

Of course, you can always find posts focusing on a certain subject (perhaps very loosely focusing if you kind of squint and cock your head!) by searching the "Topics" section in the right margin, or by using the "Search" function at the very top left of the blog page.

Keep it high,


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Randonneuring Bicycle, Part 4: Let the Build Begin!

Tony Pereira sizes up the old Fuji to get a take on my bike fit.

DartreDame and I visited Portland a few weeks ago to visit with Tony and Dartre's sister and family. It was great to connect up with Tony. He is very knowledgeable; that comes through. He's a good listener, and his bikes are beauties.

He also discovered something about my old Fuji. What was it? That's another post. For now...the build begins. Hot Diggity Dog Diggity!!

Tony has moved to his new shop, and we got to peek at old builds, different paint schemes. Fun.

For more posts about this buildup, choose the "custom bicycle" topic in the right sidebar.

Keep it true,