Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Equipment - Bike Timeline, Part 2 - Actual Size #1

Presenting Actual Size #1.

(As noted earlier, I stored my bikes in the window at school. I took this picture in my dorm room, probably my freshman year. I stored my bikes there, and I had a lot of bikes up there over the four years I lived in Hilltop at UCONN. Note the very ubiquitous 80s boombox. Also the Danish cookie tin on the sill - it's light blue with a white rim.)

The second part of the bike time line deals with the Actual Size bikes.

1987: A second Cannondale SR frame after the first one broke (non-replaceable dropouts on the early Cannondale frames). I got the blue frame pretty quickly (perhaps the same day?) and after long evening of work, I had a new bike.

At this point I'd upgraded to Aerolite pedals and a bar end shifter. I'd started thinking myself as more a sprinter, less a climber. This means I had already gotten lapped (!!) on the 5k State Road Race course in Ledyard, CT (our race for Juniors was 20 laps, 100k, 62 miles). I realized I couldn't climb to save my life, even though I was a skinny kid. But I could jump. I started changing the perception I had of my riding inclinations.

Sad bike, broken dropout.

A long evening of work later.

Same parts except I installed a right side bar end and various random Suntour/Shimano rear derailleurs (no indexing yet so I could mix brands freely).

I had a Superbe Pro crankset there, probably 170s. I used them for a while, the last of my 170s for a long time. The next cranks I got were on sale, Campy Super Record 167.5s. And when I started doing well in races on them, I bought a few sets as backups. It would be the mid-late 90s before I wore out my last set of 167.5s.

I put the rear brake on backwards because... I could. I thought it was cool. I had a tire saver sticking out the back - a little gizmo that rubbed the tire lightly to "wipe it off", also known as a tire saver.

Once I went back to school I spent a lot of winter evenings and nights plastering decals all over my bike.

Like all over the bike.

Very "80's". Two watches, stickers, leather gloves. Don't ask, as they say.

This picture was taken at Limerock Race Park, going up the little hill. Picture is 1987 I think, so I'm maybe 110 lbs. I'm pretty sure I got shelled. One year I got into a 4 man break which included one teammate. We led by 10 seconds with one lap to go. As we got caught I dropped my chain and, unable to unclip, fell over. I rolled over the hill to a scene of chaos. A guy crashed at the front of the field on the 50 mph descent, scattering all but a handful of racers. A Cat 1 quit racing that day, selling his equipment in Velonews for the next year or so. I was lucky to have tried the escape and failing.

I had my "aero" Araya ADX-4 tubular rear wheel, with a box section Campy Crono front rim. In those days the ADX-4 was considered extremely tall and very susceptible to crosswinds. When I laced the same rim up as a front wheel, I got a lot of disapproving looks (and more than a few yells like "that rim will be all over the place in the wind!").

Imagine those riders now, with our 60, 80, and even 100 mm tall rims? Heh.

Incidentally I still have that rim, although it's a 34 hole rim. 32 for the spokes, 1 for the valve, and 1 for the screw that went through my tire and my rim. I think it'll make a good track rim.

In my dorm room. The road bike and mountain bike (the latter was a high bottom bracket Suntour bike - a fun bike).

I've held onto the frame for all these years. I couldn't bear to part with it initially, and later I realized the bike basically had no value. So I kept it.

Right side.

5 cent deposit referred to the fact that this was an aluminum frame, and a lot of steel riding conservatives joked about "Can of Ale" or "Hey, do you get your deposit back when you crash your frame?" This was the first "statement" decal on the bike.

One enterprising guy wrapped cut up Budweiser cans around the downtube. I thought that was perfect.

Not too many riders on steel nowadays. Those "conservative types" are now on carbon. Ironic.

Left side.

"Actual Size" was the second downtube bit I put on the bike, but it resonated with everyone and I kept it. The phrase came from Laurie Anderson's "Home of the Brave". I saw the flick at UCONN and thought the phrase hilarious.

And, no, I wasn't drunk.

I felt an affinity to her performance, although honestly the music was a bit boring for me. She "played" a creative violin - the bow had a section of cassette tape instead of horse hair, and her violin had a tape pick up, so she was basically "scratching" (like a DJ scratches) but using cassette tape instead of vinyl. In other scenes she had lightbulbs on her hands, mics planted around her head (she'd tap her head to make drum-like noises), all sorts of funky things.

Anyway, if you skip forward to 4:31 of this clip, you'll see where I got my inspiration. If you watch the other bits of it, you'll see her playing her violin-cassette-tape-scratch-gizmo. If you think about it, I couldn't have been drunk to have caught that brief moment and to have it burned into my brain.

Up high. The very first independent letters I stuck on - "I XLR8". Heh.

After I bought about a thousand letters just to put "I XLR8" on the back of the stays, I decided to keep sticking stickers here and there. It started out kind of slow, but in the long winter days at school, especially the quiet weekends, I literally spent 4-6 hours at a stretch painstakingly applying the decals one at a time, using a safety pin (I had a bunch in my race stuff drawer), a mechanical pencil tip, or a stretched out paper clip. I found, though, that the slim and precise Swiss Army knife tweezers worked the best.

I'd calculate the length of a word before starting, make sure I had the letters, and go from there. I hated having to remove stickers for misspellings or too-long words - once unstuck they rarely stuck well again.

Lots of stuff on the back, for others to read. The wide Cannondale stays worked well for that function.

"Don't Fall On Me", an appropriately titled song by REM.

More... The orange reflective decals were for my night rides. Blinkies didn't exist back then.

Lots of little personal jokes. "Opus" was ostensibly the penguin in Bloom County, but it's also a musical term - I'd run into it a lot in my 12 years of violin study.

The yellow decal is from the Bones Brigades, a Powell-Peralta skate video series. They had some cool bits, like this downhill (Future Primitive), and my favorite song of that particular tape. If you look at the yellow decal carefully, it says "Skate and Destroy" (skip to 2:15 for a horrendous little ditty).

(Hint: read it on its side)

The fork received a lot of attention.

Because I detested Shimano so much, I thought it appropriate that I put a Shimano decal on the bike. This was the first decal on the bike. Much later I added "SIS" (Shimano Index System).

Until now I didn't realize I used a lot of acronyms. Ahead of myself I guess. Too ahead - I don't even know what "FLW" means.


My friend in high school asked me for help with his yearbook quote. I wanted it to be something where we take what's most important in life and make (ironic) fun of it. Of course it had to fit into the limited space we had for our quotes. At first I thought of life, death, and taxes, but I couldn't make taxes work.

Then I thought we could work in "Love". I'd just learned what that meant in tennis...

As I ran out of idea and stickers (they were expensive, those little letters), I started filling space with anything that worked with the letters I had. Think of a Scrabble game with almost none of the common letters left.

Although the girl's names started out with just my then-girlfriend, eventually I started putting friend's names on the frame. On our dorm floor (Hale 5) we had a bunch of friends from the girl's floors (Hale 2-4-6-8).

The stays got dirty and therefore the individual letters didn't work well. I tried to keep something on there but it was a pain.

Another big influence, Kate Bush.

Hale 5 refers to Hale Hall, 5th floor, at UCONN, where I lived for my four college years. The floor felt like a fraternity - few people left willingly. They either graduated or got kicked out of school. I was part of the former, although I was close to being the latter for a semester.

The pink stripes are an artistically rendered version of the stock Aerolite sticker. I got the idea from a teammate. Get a sticker, cut it into very thin strips, and randomly stick two or three of the pieces upside down. Instant personalized sticker.

Begin the Begin. I became a huge fan of REM in college.

I wanted it seen from the right side, and I didn't have room elsewhere. More Bones Brigades stickers, courtesy my bro and the shop (we sold skate equipment - we all sported Vision Streetwear stuff for a year or two). His influence, and a surplus of the letter "I" meant I put a few Black Flag emblems up (the four "I" decals, slightly staggered to simulate a waving flag).

Remnants of the 80s, like Mad World.

Death Tongue is Bloom County's Opus's Heavy Metal band. Opus played the tuba. The fork, in case you didn't notice, is steel.

"G'Day" is homage to Ken, the kid that helped me get into racing. He taught me the need to suffer, to sacrifice, and to think of the whole, not of myself. I was responsible for my preparation, yes, but my loyalty should always sit with the racing community.

Anyway, in high school he liked starting trends and watching everyone copy him. He wore some gaudy checkered shoes to school one day. A year later everyone had Vans shoes.

One day, in French class, when I couldn't ask him how to go up Wolfpit Road in yet another different way, he decided that we should use the English version of the French "hello", i.e. "bonjour". Since bonjour translates to "good day", we decided to use that greeting whenever we saw each other.

A semester later we'd look at each other and grin when people we didn't really know used that greeting to their friends.

Next up: Actual Size #2


Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to seeing that cool Look frame you had.

Aki said...

That Look frame (KG196) was actually a long test ride (demo, kind of, or a sample if you will). I never owned it, and only rode it for a short time. I have a picture of a blue one in a different post here.

I wanted to justify buying it but I simply couldn't. And, yes, I brought it to SUNY Purchase to test out.