Shakedown Cruise

A short ride around the neighborhood, provided a perfect opportunity to shakedown the recent rebuild and complete (barely) my January monthly goal for saddle time.
The short ride included a side trip through the historic Bolivar Cemetery. Since Mr. G. A. Grissom was evidently well-liked by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, I feel a certain kinship. I wonder if he was a fixed wheel enthusiast?
Part of the loop passed by a small lake. The ducks seemed quite content in water, even with air temps in the mid 30s.
Considering its intended purpose, the rebuilt Kogswell Model P performed very well. I’ll need to attend to the headset, which began to work loose, but everything else seems ready for a longer excursion.

Single Speed, Baby!

Way back in November, I announced my winter bike project for 2009/2010. I shot off the blocks when the gun fired and provided updates one, two, and three within the same month. Then things bogged down for a variety of reasons that are too tiresome to go into here.
But now it is virtually finished. If you happen to be interested enough to study the photos, you might notice that I haven’t yet trimmed the brake cables, and it has no bottle, rackage, or baggage. Given it’s intended purpose, it probably won’t need much.
It’s an experiment. I wanted to try out the upright bars, and thought it might serve me well for some of my shorter rides. It might even be a good business trip bike, since I drive often to several other Texas cities.
The project mainly converts my Kogswell Model P into a single speed. Other modifications include the upright bars, re-raked front fork to reduce geometric trail, use of a different set of wheels I had, and powder-coating to a refined burgundy color.
After all the grief I’ve received about the color of my A. Homer Hilsen, it is good to finally have a bike in a color us Aggies can be proud of.

Test of Commitment

The wind is thundering across the prairie like a herd of buffalo. It’s cloudy, 24 degrees, and feels like 12.

I’m one hour behind on my January cycling goal, and I only have parts of two days to meet the goal.
Words like coffee, blanket, book, couch, and fireplace dominate my thinking. When I think about the bicycle, words like planning and preparation come to mind, but not the word “pedaling”.
Commitment tested, outcome uncertain.

Almost Didn’t Go

I wanted to ride but, like a spoiled child, I wanted warmer, dryer conditions. I almost decided to wait a day to see if conditions would improve. I almost didn’t go.
But I’ve set goals for myself this year. When I step back from the moment and think about it, I know that getting out is good for me. Like eating vegetables, and refusing dessert, riding is good for me. So I remembered the goal, and I forced myself to get dressed and get outside.
Specific goals are helpful like that. They remind us that there are things that are important to ourselves beyond certain momentary circumstances or inconveniences. We remind ourselves that we will have future regrets if we fail ourselves now. Whether it is a goal for more exercise, a better diet, or improvement of moral virtues, we need a way to keep our priorities before us. We need assurance that the effort is worth it.
The air was damp and brisk. Traffic was insignificant. The winter surroundings in northern Denton County were peaceful.
As I pedaled down an empty road, a smile formed on my face, and I couldn’t figure out why I almost didn’t go.

What’s the Objective?

I love my father-in-law. That might be a statement you don’t hear often, but it’s true for me. I actually love my mother-in-law more because she feeds me caramel pie, but that’s not the point of this post. My father-in-law and I share perspectives on many things, even in the realm of political and religious things. I enjoy spending time with him and talking about things; things going on in the world and things going on in our own lives. We observe and ponder. We analyze and criticize. At some point in the discussion, one of us will inevitably ask the question knowing the other will immediately understand, “What’s the objective?”

A tax code rant would be one example. It might start with some family member casually stating that they just received their W2 form from their employer. Within moments, however, he and I would probably veer off on a critical analysis of our country’s taxing system and its appalling complexity. To which I might exclaim in frustration, “Why does something as simple as collecting revenue to run a government need to be so complicated?” Then he would pause, smile, and say, “What’s the objective?” With that short question, I understand that he is saying that the objective of the tax code is NOT to provide revenue to run our nation. Instead, it is the carefully crafted way politicians make us think that they give each of us something we want, and make someone else pay for it. There are hundreds of other examples of “What’s the objective?”, and many are much less important to society as a whole.


Our question often arises during discussion of our respective idle time activities. Readers of this blog are already aware that bicycling is my thing. He, being of superior intellect, discipline, and skill, is an aviation enthusiast. The man builds his own airplanes, and then he hops in and flies them. He doesn’t build like I “build” a bicycle by bolting pieces together, but from a set of drawings and raw materials. He builds airplanes like my mother-in-law builds a caramel pie with a homemade crust. She doesn’t use those little Kraft caramel squares, she makes her own caramel (with magic, I think). But caramel pie is not the point of this post (and I’d really appreciate it if you’d stop bringing it up).




I might ask, “Why are you building a fabric-covered, spruce-ribbed, low-powered, low-tech airplane when you have a fancy, sleek, high-powered airplane you just built?” To which, he’d reply, “What’s the objective?”



I shrug my shoulders.

He explains that the objective of building another airplane is “to build”. He has no schedule and is making no commitments to finish or fly the thing. If he can spend time building between flights in his other airplane (or slices of caramel pie, say), that’s the objective. Suddenly, it all clicks in my simple mind.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I have set goals for myself in 2010. I stated that my objective is not about speed or distance. My objective is saddle time…to remove obstacles that limit my riding…to wander the countryside and simply enjoy the sensation of pedaling a bicycle. So why does anyone sell a custom made, titanium framed race bike that must be tied down on a breezy day? Why does he replace it with an old-fashioned steel bicycle with fat tires, racks, canvas bags, and an astonishingly heavy leather saddle? Why does he give up a top-of-the-line, 10-speed drive train for Amish-like fixed wheel simplicity? Three years ago, I myself would have asked these very questions. But by now, I’m fairly confident you know exactly what I’d say.


That’s right,…”What’s the objective?”

Direction

Last year there was too much talk and not enough action. There was too much thinking, optimizing, anticipating obstacles, planning, preparing, and pondering. All these things can keep a man busy spinning around in circles. Here I am standing in the same place.
Some pondering is a good thing. I didn’t take many photos during today’s 2-hour loop around Sanger. Instead, I made substantial progress on my cycling goals for 2010, and used this time to figure ways to implement a few other more challenging changes. The bicycle is very important, but people are more important.
I am confident that I’m moving in the right direction.