Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tired Wheel Deal IV: Motobecane Grand Record from the 70s

For all of you out there following the Tired Wheel entries astutely, you will notice that I have skipped over entry number III and proceeded directly to IV. Do not be afraid. Number III is in the hopper and awaiting the upload of some final images, after which prepare to be blown away by a bike that enjoys cult status thanks to the mystique of its enigmatic designer, a man who currently plies his trade in the Bay Area and still makes road bikes with lugs.

In the meantime, here is a counterweight to that ugly Mirage I posted previously, a lovely old Motobecane Grand Record built with Reynolds 531 tubes in the days when brazed-on housing and cable guides were out of fashion and the French still hadn't figured out how to paint metal (note the closeup image of the top tube below for evidence).

Since it is so French, and I haven't the parts or patience to deal with that, I did not build this bike up, but sold it to a friendly older chap who I can only imagine had some extra time on his hands in between building his own wooden kayak and climbing Mt Rainier.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Frigid Forks and the Winter Commute

The weather in Seattle has defied convention in this early part of December, with the usual drear and drizzle making way for beautiful, clear skies. It is also cold enough to shatter delicate rims, with temperatures hovering around the low to mid 20s in the early mornings and staying right around freezing during the day. if you drop any precip on this it'll surely be snow, although none is forecast and it looks to stay the same early winter desert condition for the next little while.

Those of us who depend solely on the bicycle for our commuting needs thus find ourselves fielding lots of questions, all of which are some sort of variation on "so how are you getting to work these days, since it is clearly unsafe to ride?"

While there are certainly conditions under which I am reluctant to ride to work, such as the day last winter when I had to stop and push a man in an electric wheelchair up a hill after he'd become stuck on a patch of ice, what we're experiencing is not at all dangerous in terms of riding conditions. It's just cold. And cold can certainly drive some people to change their behavior, but I am way too stubborn for that. Unless there is actual snow and ice on the road, and sometimes even when there is, I am riding, foolhardy or not.

I found this helpful guide for people who for whatever reason (geographic and climactic, personal or emotional) must ride in the snow, but anything beyond slush is a deal breaker even for me. I got kids to feed and can't affort a Horrible Accident.