Wednesday, February 12, 2020

My First Bike - 1968

This is me sitting on my first bicycle. Before I got this bicycle I rode one of my sister's hand me down girl's bike for years. This photo was taken in the summer of 1971. My blue and chrome bicycle has many miles on it by now! The car in the background is a 1969 Chevrolet Impala.

I remember running into the den of our house to see what was under the Christmas Tree in 1968. I don't remember anything else that I got that year, but I remember seeing my first bicycle that morning. It was blue with chrome fenders. Despite the fact that it was cold and still early, I had to go outside and ride my new bicycle right then. I bundled up and headed down the road. I didn't go far because my hands and face were freezing. I turned around and rode home as fast as I could. I made the same short trip several more times that morning before we drove to my grandparents house for more Christmas. I was anxious to get back home and go for another ride.

One thing on my new bike that was scary to me was the fact that it had a front hand brake. All of my friends that I showed my new pride and joy to told me the same thing: "If you put on the front brake you will flip over the handlebars." I made sure I never touched the front brake lever for any reason. My father was puzzled by my request to take the brake and lever off of my new bicycle. He tried to convince me that I should leave it on the bicycle and that I would learn to use it. Finally he gave in and took the lever and brake off my new bicycle. I felt much better about the bike then.

My new bicycle was my ticket to freedom. I rode to school every day I possibly could, as did most kids at elementary school in those days. There were two long bike racks that were full of bicycles on both sides everyday.  I never heard of a bicycle being stolen from the bike racks, but I carried a lock with me and locked my bike up every time I rode to school.

The best part of riding to school was that I could go wherever I wanted in the afternoon. I knew it would be okay as long as I didn't break the most important rule in our household: be sitting at the supper table by 5:30 sharp. Don't be late! This made for some fast rides home so that I would be sitting there at the table at 5:30. I remember, on many occasions, pedaling home from a friends house as hard as I could, while I nervously eyed my watch!

One of my favorite destinations was Sherwood Plaza Shopping Center. I rode there on after school adventure rides and on Saturday mornings too. It was a fun place to go and a great destination. Most of the time I didn't have any money to spend, but if I did I would buy Frozen Coke-a Cola and/or bubblegum. Money wasn't necessary to make Sherwood Plaza a fun destination. I would usually see someone I knew once I got there. Riding on the sidewalks in front of the stores was my favorite thing to do (even though I knew I wasn't supposed to). The slick surface of the cement sidewalks made long skid marks easy to do. Sometimes we would have contests on those sidewalks to see who could slide the farthest. I'm sure I was considered a brat to folks trying to walk from store to store, but I still think skid marks are cool!

My blue and chrome bike held up to a lot of use and abuse. It never occurred to me that my riding style might cause it damage. A favorite pastime was building wooden ramps out of scrap lumber and seeing how far I could jump. My goal was to jump the width of a driveway. The rims held up to many attempts and lots of falls. My blue bike also held up to years of riding wheelies and coming down hard on the front wheel.

At one point I added a generator that powered front and rear lights. The generator made it hard to pedal, but I thought it was great! This made it possible for me to ride after dark. During the summer months I could go anywhere I wanted as long as I was home by 10:00 PM. I roamed the neighborhood looking for adventure. There were always other baby boomer children outside to play with. (back in those days parents didn't worry about children being out of their sight like they do now)

I was always excited when I ran across the bug spraying truck on one of my summer adventure rides. The bug spraying truck drove up and down the streets spewing out poisonous gas to kill off some of the mosquitoes and other flying pests. After it had passed kids would run out into the street and play in the poisonous fog that filled the roads. I would chase the bug spraying truck in the poison fog on my bike for as long as I could. It never occurred to any of us that it might not be good for us to breath in the bug spray.

Other than a few flat tires from running over something, my blue and chrome bike never broke down. In the basement workshop of our house my father taught me how to take the wheels off and patch the tubes. I successfully patched the tubes many times. Occasionally I would have to replace a tube. Turtle car wax kept the blue metallic paint looking good.

I still ride blue bikes and go on what i call "adventure rides." It's been many years since I saw a bug spraying truck!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Bianchi Infinito CV Review

Joe with the Bianchi Infinito CV
   After playing around with the fit and changing a few contact points on the Bianchi Infinito CV the bike now weighs in at 17 pounds. The only reason to replace any parts on this bike would be personal preference. The bike comes with a sharp looking Fizik Alliante saddle and a Bianchi Brand Reporta Corsa handlebar and bar tape. I replaced the saddle with my favorite Fizik Arione 00 saddle and FSA K-Force carbon handlebar. The bar tape I favor is Fizik Endurance 2.5mm tacky tape. I also added Speedplay Zero Stainless Steel pedals and a couple of Pro carbon fiber bottle cages. These are just items I like to use and make the bike feel like a couple of bikes I have been riding for several years. 

   During the fitting process I rode many laps around the neighborhood. This allows me to turn in my driveway and use tools in my garage to make adjustments and then ride some more to check out how the set up feels. I have a route that I have ridden for many years that is similar to riding a Criterium Race. One section is a long downhill into an off camber corner. The CounterVail used in the carbon fiber of this frame makes a huge differnce when cornering on the Bianchi. The reduction in vibration throughout the frame and fork are confidence inspiring. There are many "endurance bikes" out there. This bike is an Endurace Race Bike! 

   I swapped out the stem for different models and lengths several times and decided a Thomson X2 stem in a 120mm length put me in the most comfortable position. Bianchi's Infinito CV has a taller head tube than their extreme racing series of bikes. This makes it easy to fit most riders. For me having the stem almost slammed on this 53cm size bicycle works great. I am annxoius to spend more time on the bike to see how it performs. 

Click here for earlier post on the Bianchi Infinito CV.
Click here to visit the Bianchi USA website.
Fizik Arione 00 saddle
Thomson X2 Stem and FSA K-Force Carbon Compact Handlebar, Fizik Endurange Bar Tape

Bianchi Infinito CV

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Bianchi Infinito CV Review

2017 Bianchi Infinito CV
   I am excited to start a long time riding review of the Bianchi Infinito CV. I have owned one of these bicycles before. It has been a couple of years since I have ridden one. Over the next few months I am going to ride and share my thoughts on the experiences on this bicycle.

   This is a stock model offered by Bianchi that is built with Shimano Ultegra Components and has a set of Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels on it. The weight of the bicycle as it is offered from Bianchi is 16 pounds and 11 ounces (7.56 kilograms).

   The Infinito CV is part of Bianchi's Endurance Racing range of bicycles. It has a slightly taller head tube and longer chain stays than their Extreme Racing bicycle. The key word here is racing. The Infinito CV was designed as a racing bicycle. It is wonderful for long rides and rough surfaces and fast group rides. But it is also great for road races and I would have no hesitation to mix it up in a crit race on this bike.

   The carbon fiber used in making the frame set contains countervail. Countervail is a material developed by the aerospace company Material Sciences Corporation. It is designed to remove vibration from carbon fiber. It is interwoven into the layers of the carbon fiber of the Infinito CV. Countervail not only removes vibration, but it also makes the carbon fiber stronger. The Infinito CV was the first bike from Bianchi to have Countervail, it is now used in all of their top of the line road and mountain bikes.

MSRP: $3,799.99
Click here to visit Bianchi USA.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Graziano Battistini

Graziano Battistini

Graziano Battistini - (1936 - 1994) was an Italian professional bicycle racer. His racing career lasted for ten years, beginning in 1959 and going through 1968. He is credited with a total of eight race wins. 

Battistini won two stages of the 1960 Tour de France and finished second overall in the general classifications. 

At the Giro d'Italia he won a total of two stages. The first at the at the 1962 edition of the race and the second at the 1965 edition.
Graziano Battistini 1968

Thursday, February 4, 2016

My cool bike. - book review

My Cool Bike. An inspirational guide to bikes and bike culture. by: Chris Haddon
Photography by: Lydon McNeil
160 pages

Published in 2013 by Pavillon Books
An imprint of Anova Books Company Ltd
10 Southcomb Street
London W14 ORA

My Cool Bike is a fun book about cycling culture. The pages of this book are full of wonderful photos and short stories about each of the subjects. The topics covered include many unique bicycle businesses, clubs, collectors, designers and riders.  Modern racing bikes are not included.

I recommend this book to anyone that loves all types of bikes. It is entertaining, informative and just plain fun. 

My Cool Bike is available most places books are sold. I buy most of my books either from the publisher directly or from Barnes & Noble (in store or online). Barnes & Noble and a used books store are the only two books stores in Winston-Salem. I support them when ever I can, because I don't want them to go away due to online shopping.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Kickstand Comics featuring Yehuda Moon

New Kickstand Comics are being posted again! Click here to visit the site and enjoy all the adventures at the Kickstand Bike Shop with Yehuda Moon, Joe King and Staff. Buy a book of their comics to enjoy forever and this will help keep the fun going.

Yehuda Moon

Yehuda Moon is an idealist. A dreamer. An advocate. A utilitarian. Yehuda runs the Kickstand Cyclery with his partner, Joe King. He believes cycling is an ideal form of transportation and can often be found tilting at windmills – some imaginary, some very real. Yehuda doesn’t like the automobile… but then, he’d likely wouldn’t have liked the horse a hundred years ago either. Yehuda is all about momentum and hard work and staving off the ills that come with ease and convenience.
Yehuda Moon

Joe King

Joe pursues the medal. To him, cycling is a pastime, a race to prove performance. Joe is all right with the fact that he drives to the Kickstand. He doesn’t see the bike as a savior of mankind. In fact, the fewer cyclists on the road means more room for him. Joe used to race, and has always worked at the Kickstand. He wasn’t too pleased when Fred (the first owner of the shop) took Yehuda under his wing, given that Moon didn’t know a thing about wrenching.
Joe King

Thistle Gin

Thistle is a mother who doesn’t want her child growing up in the back seat of a car. Though she has high hopes for the bicycle being a transportation choice for more and more people, she’s more balanced in her approach than Yehuda. An ace engineer, Thistle never went back to work at her old firm after discovering a bakfiets at the Kickstand. She works there wrenching while she raises Fizz (though events of late point to her having to return to her old job).
Thistle Gin

Fizz Gin

Fizz is Thistle’s daughter. Fizz is growing up in the Kickstand Cyclery. She’s about to move on to two wheelers. Watch out.
Fizz Gin

Sister Sprocket

Sprocket was an orphan adopted by the Shakers who build the bicycles for the shop. She grew up simply, and hasn’t changed. She rides a brakeless fixed gear mixte. She paints the Kickstand’s bicycles and designs the decals for the different models.
Sister Sprocket

Fred Banks

Fred opened the Kickstand Cyclery back in the 1970s during a ‘bicycle boom’. He hired Joe King and the two ran the shop until Yehuda Moon showed up intent on turning everyone into a cyclist. Fred took Yehuda under his wing despite the fact that Moon had no experience as a mechanic (much to Joe’s chagrin). But then Fred was killed by a motorist and Yehuda and Joe worked together to keep the Kickstand open. Yehuda, using a personal war chest, bought the Kickstand; he and Joe continue to run it today. Fred haunts the Kickstand as a ghost, and though he found peace with his murder, has returned to town when the Kickstand was recently burned to the ground.
Fred Banks

Brother Pilot

Brother Pilot leads the Shaker community that builds the Kickstand Cyclery’s bicycle frames. Pilot took a vow of silence when Fred was killed by a hit and run driver; he won’t speak until the driver is brought to justice.
Brother Pilot


Sweetroll and Yehuda Moon used to run BMX bikes in the sewers below Cleveland. Now he’s grown up. Yehuda hasn’t.

The Kickstand Cyclery

The Kickstand Cyclery is where everything goes down. A converted train station between urban rails, the Kickstand serves as the hub for all things in the comic strip. It’s where Fred’s ghost bike was placed. It’s where Thistle’s ‘build-a-bike’ program was put into action. It’s where Yehuda sleeps. At least until recently – the Kickstand was burned to the ground when a tree hit it and was ignited by downed electrical lines. While Yehuda and Joe sort out what’s going to happen with a new shop, the Kickstand has gone mobile; the two run a mobile repair stand out of a pair of bakfietsen.
The Kickstand Cyclery
The Kickstand Cyclery
The Kickstand Cyclery

Friday, January 29, 2016

Eric Leman

Eric Leman 1973
Eric Leman (born July 17, 1946) is a retired Belgian cyclist from West Flanders. He raced as a professional for ten years beginning in 1968 through 1977. During his career he is credited with 77 victories. He is most famous for his three wins at the Tour of Flanders: 1970, 1972, 1973. Leman won five stages of the Tour de France during his years of racing.

Eric Leman 1975

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Gunnar Roadie - Project Bike - Three Year Review

Gunnar Roadie
It's been well over three years since I first built up my Gunnar Roadie and began riding it. Together we have been on many wonderful adventures. I have had many great bikes, but this is the one I think of when I am going out for a ride. The geometry of this 52 centimeter frame fits me perfectly. 

Over the years all the parts on my Roadie have changed. It now has a Shimano 6800 11-speed group, Thomson seatpost and stem, an FSA carbon fiber handlebar and a 28 spoke wheelset. The weight of the bike as it is seen in the picture with everything on it (rear light, computer, seabag, etc.), minus the water bottle, is just over 19 pounds.

 I built the wheels out of new parts I have had for awhile and have never used. The rear hub is a Powertap SL and the front hub is a Paul's Components high flange. The rims are Velocity A23s with Continental 4000s tires. This combination makes for a great riding and reliable wheelset. 

Powertap SL Hub

Paul High Flange Front Hub
The very features that many bicycles are sold by, are the very ones that make this bike work so well. External brake and derailleur cables improve the performance to a level that no internally cable routed bike will ever be able to match. 

I recommend a Gunnar Roadie to anyone looking for a bicycle that they can ride and enjoy for many years.  I look forward to many more great cycling adventures riding this bicycle.
Poor Ole' Joe and my Gunnar Roadie