19 April 2021

Grumble grumble grumble.

I should be excited.

Should be.

I am not. I am irritated. very irritated.

After my post about the bike I had as a kid, a friend found said bike on eBay and within a few minutes, I bought it. The listing looked great; it was a restored 1974 Schwinn Continental, same blue, same grip tape, same everything.


It arrived today in a box that looked decent; no outside bangs or tears, perfectly acceptable condition, as good as other bikes I've taken shipment on, bikes with no shipping damage.

[Insert audible groan.]

I was not daunted by the idea of assembling this bike; it wasn't any more complicated than the last two and I didn't screw those up. So I carefully removed loose stuff from the box--the wheels and paper--and laid it down, and promptly said things off the Bad Word List.

Bent chain ring.

So I was already ticked off. But I began cutting all the zip ties holding the protective foam on, and it just got worse.

Lots worse.

But we'll start with the chain ring.

That's bent.

Very, very bent.

Bent enough that I don't think that with the chain in place, it will spin. But I decided not to completely lose my chit yet, because who knows?

Maybe I just can't see it well enough.



This "restored" bike was absolutely filthy coming out of the box. But worse than that...


Lots of rust.

I didn't expect pristine because, face it, the bike is 47 years old. 

But I did not expect so much rust on a restored bike; I didn't expect pitted components.

Perhaps I should have, but the listing did not mention these things.

I'd like to go back and check it, but once something sells on eBay now, the listing comes down.

Go figure.

The front wheel... =sigh=

No matter what I do, how tight, how's not straight.

I'm not sure it will ever be straight.

The quick release axle looked straight, but...who knows. By this point I am not surprised at all.

In any case, the skills to seat it correctly are apparently beyond my set and I don't have truing equipment anyway, so...


Restored bike.


[Insert more things off the Bad Word List.]

Now, if you don't look at it too closely, it's a shiny, decent looking bike.

But if you get close, oh holy hell.

It's missing the derailleur hanger, so I can't even get that in place.

Pretty sure that if I could get it on, and spin the wheel or move the pedals, the cables would snap.

Can it be made rideable?


Someone better than I needs to take a look at it, but my gut says I just flushed $500 down the toilet. $400 for the bike, $100 for the shipping.

I am trying to come up with the right words for an eBay review that won't get me banned...I'm not sure that even contacting the seller directly will do any good. If he sold this as a restored bike he doesn't give a shit what the buyer thinks. And now I question the reviews he does have, because they were good and they were why I took a chance.

Worst case, I clean it up and it hangs on the wall. But dammit, I really did want to ride it, at least a little.


11 April 2021

Carmi wrote about his 28 year old Specialized Stumpjumper the other day, and it renewed in me the feeling of really missing my first "real" bike.

I mowed lawns all through 1974 and into 1975 to raise the money to buy a new bike; I'd had a purple banana seat bike (probably a Schwinn, but honestly I don't know) that I had coveted from 2nd grade on, but I didn't get it until 6th grade when I was really too old for it. That purple wonder was fun, but by the end of 7th grade it was mock-worthy and I took a lot of crap for riding a little kids' bike.

I began to covet something new, and all I wanted was a 10 speed. I knew there was no way in hell I would get it for my birthday or Christmas, so I asked if I could take over mowing the lawn. My parents had been paying the son of a family friend $4 a week to cut the grass, and were (surprisingly, to me, because that was "boys' work") agreeable to it.

So I cut the grass and was given $4 a week for it during months when it needed cut. By the end of 8th grade, I finally had enough to get the bike that I still desperately wanted, and in a stroke of luck the bike shop had it in a metallic blue that damn near made me squeal.

It was a 10 speed Schwinn Continental, very much like the one pictured, and I loved that damned bike. The color was perfect. The grip take had metallic flecks. It was so well balanced that even my 13 year old self could feel it I rode it everywhere until we moved from Texas to California, and once we were settled in a new house, I rode it as often as I could...which was not as often as I wanted, because school and real life gets in the way.

[It did prompt my dad to complain that I "never" rode it...I did. While he was at work. Somehow that didn't compute LOL]

When I decided to take history and English in summer school (for fun...yes, I was that kid) I rode it to school most of the time, though by then I had a driver's license and access to a car. There was something about being able to ride wherever I wanted, just for the joy of riding. For no reason or any reason; that bike was my first taste of teen-aged freedom and before I got my license, it was my way around.

I dragged it with me to Utah and BYU my junior year...where I sold it for $50 just before senior year.

Now, granted, at the time $50 was a decent chunk of change. And it was a matter of sell the bike or not eat for a few weeks, because money was super tight, but I have always regretted it.

I want that bike back.

Every now and then I surf through eBay, looking for one for sale from someone who will also ship it, but I haven't found one in good enough shape. But if I find it? Surprise, Spouse Thingy, I'm getting another bike.

I mentioned it to a friend online last night, and her reaction was puzzled. Like, isn't cycling a new relatively new thing for you?

Not really.

I mean, it's fun to hear all the newby-advice and get those teachable moments, and no one needs to be stopped so I can say "Yeah, I started riding pretty young" because 1) new bike tech is new to me, and 2) cycling now means something different than it did then, and the terminology is different than it was 40+ years ago. I did take several years off more than once and in between the Continental and more recent acquisitions, I had a lot of really crappy stuff barely worthy of being called a bike. But I did ride.

I stopped what, 8 years ago for a bit after passing out on a ride. But then came the screaming pink electric that gave me the confidence to give it another real go...and here we are, just a little obsessed (and right now angry with myself for taking a break just long enough that I am out of shape again.)

I'll probably never find that Continental again, and that's all right. I remember how it made me feel. And I have a bike on order that's coming hopefully sooner rather than later, that shows promise in being today's version of that Schwinn, with that feeling of freedom that comes when zooming down the road. It's not top of the line, but it's all I need and all I really want.*

Now all I need is to win the lottery so we can move somewhere close to safe, accessible bike paths. Because drivers? They suck, and I hate sharing the road.

*Oddly, no, I don't want a carbon bike. In fact, I ordered a bike a couple months ago because it was available before this one is supposed to arrive and it was at a great price, but realized after I placed the order that it was a carbon frame. It went back the same day it arrived, box unopened.


9 April 2021

My hair has not grown nearly as much as I would like and while I can see it's gotten a tiny bit longer, it feels like I'm still damn near bald and I want my hair back.

Ignore how stuff is sticking up all over; I have helmet hair here.

Now that St. Baldrick's is over, they've received all the funds--including an uber-generous one that had to make its way from overseas via the mail--I'm looking to the next event.

Oh, as an aside...y'all donated over $7000. I am so freaking grateful I can't begin to express it.

But the next one...yes, I am jumping into something with both feet firmly planted on the pedals of my bike, and will rack up as many miles as I can from April 16 through May 16. Officially I'm supposed to do 109, but I think I can best that, despite not having ridden much at all since late September.

After I finished the Great Cycle Challenge (which I will do again this coming September) and Buddah got sick, I sort of...stopped. There were a couple of short rides in there, times when I thought, hell yes, I'm back at it, but I just needed time to stew in my own grief, gain a few too many pounds, and find another way through it.

I haven't really watched any TV since Max died; neither have I done much reading. I know why: my lap buddy isn't here to curl up and help me watch all the things and read all the words, and it's just been uncomfortable. But once we changed his room from Max's Room to our own little game cave, I felt myself sliding away from all the feels, and into some sense of normal.

Doesn't mean I don't miss those furballs as much as ever, because I do, but I distracted myself enough from their absence that my brain began working on the story line to the book I'd been planning before, while just having some fun.

We each have our own Switch, run our own islands, but visit each other when we're playing at the same time. The number of ridiculously stupid things we do to each other--

--like blocking him on a toilet so he can't get off of it, or chasing each other with nets and axes, makes me laugh so hard sometimes I kinda want to throw up. It is stupid, but it's stupid fun.

And it helped.

And thusly did I get back on the bike today, and while I felt every bit of it because I am now out of shape, it didn't feel like the Great Big Awful and I am looking forward to the next ride.

Which brings me to the next event: the DetermiNation Cycling Classic to benefit the American Cancer Society. I did this one last year as a virtual ride and enjoyed it; this year it hits home because I have friends who are actively trying to survive treatment for breast cancer, lung cancer, and brain cancer. Both my parents survived cancer--kidney cancer for my dad, lymphoma for my mom--and it doesn't escape me that it could be in my future.

Even so...we all need something to fight for, this is mine.

Last night I chatted online with a friend who asked, reasonably I think, why I didn't just raise the money. Facebook makes it easy. It's not like I have to do anything.

But I do.

I believe in sweat equity. In giving something back. In doing something that isn't necessarily easy, earning back those donations.

So I will shave my head every year.

I will ride the miles.

I will put one foot in front of the other.

Not because anyone necessarily expects it of me--y'all have been amazingly kind when I've fallen short before--but because it's the right thing to do. It shouldn't be as easy as asking for donations; there needs to be something, anything, and it should require effort on my part.

Ask just about anyone who has done a 3 Day walk on behalf of breast cancer. It's a party atmosphere and the participants have fun, but, y''s hard. Harder than anything else I've done.

Well, except maybe for getting that tumor yanked out from the underside of my brain. That was a different kind of hard.

"Have you ever added it up? All you've raised?"

Nope. But I have a ball park idea and that's good enough. The real thing is that number isn't mine; it belongs to you people out there, the ones who have supported my whims and given me reason to shave, ride, and walk.

I appreciate it like you wouldn't believe.

And my hair still isn't growing fast enough.