Green is the new Flat Black
I know, more than a year? Really? Well, sometimes life gets in the way of updating this way out of date blog ...
The last time I posted here, I was contemplating painting an old Gitane frameset with flat black enamel. Before I reached for the spray can, though, I stripped off the peeling decals to get a better look at what I had to work with. The decal removal could have gone easier, and I added to the numerous scratches and scrapes. I took a long, hard look at the wabi-sabi, mottled, somehow very organic look of the original Club Green paint - and sighed and went to Greenwood Hobby and Garden for some Testor's model paint and some tee-ninetsy brushes.
I blended. I touched up, wiped off, re-blended and touched up again. From, oh, 20 feet away, it looks almost presentable. When I was done, I dug into the parts stash. After monkeying around with assorted old Phil Wood stuff, I wound up using the original Stronglight bottom bracket cups with my imperfect but still quite functional and surprisingly smooth Stronglight 113mm track spindle. Out came the ancient mod. 93 cranks I had taken off another Gitane TdF c.1998, which had I had at various times used to convert a Peugeot PR-10L, a different Gitane, an early Trek 620, and a Falcon San Remo before it spent a year on Julius the Mercian.
The saddle I fitted is my second Brooks B17, the one with the road rash scarred top from a misunderstanding involving an original Bianchi Pista, a spontaneously releasing clipless pedal and the tarmacadam surface of Oregon Farm Road back in 2000. Pedals are an older set of MKS Sylvan track pedals, with the bent left spindle replaced with a less-bent spindle from an old SR road pedal. The brake levers once graced Lazarus the trashpile Raleigh Gran Sport, and they operate a pair of Weinmann 500 sidepulls kitted out with the Scott Matthauser pads that had put on the Dawes Realmrider back in 1997.
I know - nobody else really wants to know what the parts are, or their history. But everything has history, a narrative, a place in time and space, or else its all just commodity, right? And if I wanted a commodity fixed-gear bike, there are places on the internet that sell them, ready to go right out of the box with no fiddling about with archaic, obsolete dimensions and thread-pitches. What's the fun of that?
At first I was in a hurry, all eagerness and thumbs racing to get the bike ready for last year's beach week. I picked up an IRO flip-flop hub from the big auction site and used Wheelsmith spokes salvaged from a destroyed wheel to lace it to an older Campagnolo sewup rim I had lying around. Big Lee at Bikes and Boards had a front wheel that was close enough - dark anodized Mavic rim and unlabeled but crazy smooth front hub, and I still had one good pair of tubulars. I was set ... sort of.
It worked well enough, but I never felt like I had the rear wheel dialed in, and sewups no longer felt good. I started negotiations with Craig out west, and wound up swapping a dynohub-equipped front wheel and a book for a nice pair of Kogswell-Mavic wheels - which arrived the day after we left for the beach. Sigh.
So Ainsley and I rode around Cherry Grove, and even with somewhat squirrely wheels the Gitane was a champion - right up until our last ride together that week, when the bottom bracket fixed cup worked its way loose. It was an easy enough fix - once I got home.
Leisure rides have been few, far between and hard to come by for a while, but I have lately managed to work in a few. Sunday morning I went out early, and I took the Gitane and managed to get in 10 miles in the short amount of time I had available.
Monday evening, Ainsley and I set out aboard our Mercians for what we hoped would be the classic Wednesday night ride from downtown Greenwood out Scotch Cross and back in via Lebanon Church and the infamous Canadian Mist Highway - but it was not to be. By the time we reached the end of the rail-trail at Florida Avenue there was thunder that could no longer be ignored. We bore left and ran like bunnies down New Market. We were coming up the rise to Marshall Road when it started raining. We booked it along, hooking left along Robber Baron row on East Creswell before taking shelter in the overhang outside Immanuel Lutheran and waiting out the worst of it.
As I noted out there in Facebook land, fenders are good things, cycling buddies like Ainsley who are philosphical and amused by rain are even better. We eventually made it home, where we dried off and waited out the rest of the storm over coffee and wide-ranging conversation.
Wednesday I came home and I NEEDED to ride. It was a last-minute, bolt-down-a-PBJ-and-get-out-the-door kinda ride, and I took the Gitane and got as close to hammering as I have gotten in eons. Leaving at 6:30 gave me some time, but not a lot. I complimented the young couple at the far end of the rail-trail on their beautiful German Shepherd. I waved to motorists and they waved back to me, and everybody was cool. I hooked right through the neighborhood and went down 221 to the 225 Bypass, thence down Scotch Cross road, pausing long enough to raise my handlebars about 1 cm, then again a little while later to get the bars and stem exactly, precisely, correctly straight to fend off CDO (because those letters should be in alphabetical order!).
I was coming up Lebanon Church Road when I saw an outline up ahead. I thought, "dog?" and then got close enough to see the huge ears. It was a fawn, all legs and white speckled cuteness, and the poor dear/deer saw me and took flight. Bless its heart, it was trapped between me on the road and the fence line, so it fled along that grassy strip. I had time to ponder the expression "runs like a deer" and lament that while I could think of the photo of Njinksy, I could not summon Afternoon of a Faun in my head. The little deer turned down into a nook with a gate and watched me pass on by, and I sincerely hope the little beggar made his way back home.
It was overcast and getting dark fast. I poured it on, as much as I could, and the old Gitane ran arrow-straight beneath me. I marveled at how smooth and straight the ancient Stronglight crank and chainring ran, how I was able to glide along down the Canadian Mist Highway past the empty bottles it is named for. Onto Florida Avenue, then bombing down the hill to the rail trail and encountering the same young couple. What else could I do? I said, "Hello again, and that is still a beautiful Shepherd!" They smiled, I smiled, the Shepherd was beautifully behaved again and I dug in and kept turning 'em 'round.
8:00 found me on the trail still, and I stood on the bike and punched it up the nasty little rise at the curve, then it was through Uptown Greenwood past the topiaries. The traffic light at Maxwell and Main actually registered that there was a vehicle present when I put the bike right about where the sensor should be, and the light changed like I was real traffic or something. No such luck at the Grace Street light, but I got around that and managed to burn on home. I rolled up into the carport and was rewarded almost immediately by the pitter patter of raindrops on the metal roof. I had 21 miles with an average speed of 15-point-something, which is my fastest ride in probably seven years or so.
Life is good, love is better, and God's love is the best of all. More later!