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Beginning at the beginning:

Before I was old enough to do my own pedaling, I rode on the back of Mom’s bike.

When I was a super-tiny Meetzorp, I had a mini-bigwheel. I also had rad tennies and stripey tube-socks.

When I got a bit older, I got a tricycle. I also had a stylish rainbow-striped sun-suit. I loved rainbow-striped clothing.

This is the bike I learned to ride on. If you look closely, you’ll notice the fork has a slightly odd angle to it—a bit too straight-up-and-down. That’s because I ran into a large tree stump with it in those early weeks of learning. Didn’t hold me back a whole lot, though. Didn’t materially affect the rideability of this bike, either. I rode it as you see it, for years never knowing anything was amiss.

This was my alternate bike. We had three bikes around the place; one for each of us, and an extra for when we had company. I alternated between riding the little red bike and this one. This one had two major advantages. It was geared a little higher, so you could eke more speed out of it, and it had a stylin’ denim banana seat with a real back-pocket.

Even as a kid, I was a bike dork. For whatever reason, I saw fit to wear blue corduroys over my swimsuit. Then I stuffed the pants-legs into my socks to keep them out of my bike-chain. The bike is laying in the yard in the background. Those sneakers had rainbow-striped trim on the Velcro straps.

Eventually I outgrew 20″ bikes. Also, I felt they were a bit babyish after a neighbor boy got a slick 24″ Peugeot 5-speed “junior racer” and I couldn’t let a younger kid outdo me. I started riding that 10-speed Schwinn Continental that Mom used to ride. It was too big for her back in the day, and it was too big for me as a junior-high girl. Hell, it is still too big for me. It’s about a 58cm, I ride a 52.

It has achieved retirement in the woodshed these days. I used to have to climb aboard via a planter in the driveway.

After a summer of riding the Continental, I was inspired and committed to getting a new bike of my own, in my size. I saved all of my babysitting money, birthday money, etc., and the summer before my Freshman year of highschool, I had the $109 necessary to buy a brand-new Huffy White River. I was very proud of this bike and rode it regularly from my freshman year of highschool through my sophomore year of college. I got over 5 years of regular and enthusiastic riding out of a bike generally acknowledged to be a gigantic load of poo.

This replaced the Huffy. I’d taken a few rides on my ex’s Schwinn Moab, a similar quality bike, and was just amazed by how smooth and responsive it was. An entry-level bike-shop bike is a world of difference from a K-Mart Huffy. Ol’ Trusty, my Trek 800 was a Christmas present from my ex in ’96. It’s now my designated towing bike, Friz bike, and foul-weather beater. This bike has been crazy reliable.

In ’05 I got the crazy idea that I wanted to go faster. This was the result. The Burley tends to bring out the devil in me, and I have wrecked more times with this bike than any other that I have ever owned. Moreover, it has a really stiff ride on it (as many modern road bikes do) and is actually rather wearying for longer rides. Considering that longer, faster rides were the whole point, this bike has ended up being a gigantic pile of fail (even if it is rather pretty). I’m fixin’ to sell it as I’ve come to the painful conclusion that it’s not really my style. I haven’t ridden it in nearly a year. It just isn’t much fun, unfortunately.

Now if we want to talk about fun, this bike here has been in the thick of a lot of fun in the three years I’ve owned it. I salvaged it from my folks’ woodshed because I needed an old-fashioned looking bike to go with my Gay ’90s Halloween costume. I hadn’t banked on it being an unaccountably fun bike to ride, and it has since been on probably a dozen alleycats/ping-owe/Critical Mass/Adventure rides. The last big one was Frank Tuesday’s farewell ping-owe (ping-owe = pub-crawl + alleycat + chaos + general dementedness). This turned into something like a 48-mile ride, as we traveled from Waldo to the River Market to Waldo, to midtown again. 48 miles is way too far to ride a bike of this weight/geometry/gearing. Still, it’s pretty stylish and pretty slick for shorter jaunts. Plus I can snap a couple of baskets or shopping bags onto that rack and do my grocery shopping quite handily. Unfortunately all the hard use is taking its toll, and the seat-stays are starting to break away from the seat tube. Joel said he’d braze it back together for me. In the meantime, the Suburban’s taking a little hiatus from the weekly rotation.

At the point that I owned three bikes, I thought it was really a bit ridiculous. Then I test-rode a particular hybrid, an early-1990s Bianchi Advantage out at Bikes & Trikes for Types, accepted my insanity, and bought the wretched thing.

It wasn’t much to look at, but it rode smooth, was steadier than my road bike, but snappier than my mountain bike. A good compromise vehicle.

Last winter, in a fit of cabin fever, I envisioned a new paint scheme. Joel was envisioning a rebuild on this bike anyhow, as it started out with pretty crappy components, so we tore it down, I sanded, primed, painted, detailed, and clearcoated, and it went back together so much prettier.

Here it is with most of the touring rig on it. I have a bar bag which isn’t on it regularly because it kind of interferes with there being a good place for my front blinky. On the day this picture was taken, I was adventuring with the ACME Saturday group, hauling dumpster-diving treasures for my fellow scavengers.

This is the bike that started my obsession with bike-painting. It is also my most favorite bike of the whole lot of them. It started out as a teal-blue late-80s/early90s Schwinn World Sport. It’s now my Little Green Singlespeed, and ain’t it pretty?

I’ve got a slightly different setup from before. I didn’t end up liking the “flipped-n-snipped” bars that most singlespeeder/fixie aficionados prefer, and reverted to my usual flat-bar solution. I have two bells on this bike. One is part of the brake-lever housing on the left side, and the other is a bolt-on model on the right side. I have many ringy-dingie options.

How to bring home a new bike by bike. I rode up to Joel’s to re-assemble the singlespeed, and had to get it home somehow. BOB Trailer to the rescue!

The BOB Trailer was how I got Hercules home, too. Brian Chasm had gotten this bike at a yard sale, but it was too small for him, so he gave it to me, with the directive to “do something awesome with it.” Herk is awaiting a little TLC (forthcoming this winter) and I think the awesome thing I will do with it is ride it around. It’s such a pretty bike. I may add a chainguard, but otherwise, I don’t think I could improve upon it as it sits.

The ’53 Schwinn Debutante was what one might call a serendipitous occurrence. I completely fell for this preposterous (but lovely) old bike on the very day that I got my tax refund. I therefore plunked down half of my refund amount for the acquisition of a perfectly ridiculous bike, and have ridden it on occasions where it is more important to look cute than to get anywhere comfortably or efficiently.

I put my daisy basket on the Debutante because it seemed like a good place for it.

My newest ride, the Redline Monocog 29er. Very big fun, I can assure you. Snappy handling and a treat to take over logs or down stairs. I’m working on not being such a sissy about descents. The little orange plastic flowers help it stand out from the crowd. This is one of those very popular models; a combination of good design and pricepoint have placed Redline Monocog 29ers in the hands of many a mountain biker who wanted to dabble in the whole singlespeed 29er scene, myself included. This was a wonderful surprise from Joel who had enlisted the help of Sarah & Christi at ACME Bicycle Company to sneak it in under my radar. This is going to be my ride down at Bonktoberfest.

If you can believe it, I have one more bike, not pictured, because it is still a work in progress. It’s a mid-1970s World Traveler, which was a bike made by a Japanese company for Schwinn. Very entry-level, kind of clunky, perfect fodder for becoming an art project. I’m envisioning something like a grown-up size Stingray-type bike, with apehanger handlebars, a banana-seat, and plenty of bells and whistles. I have chrome fenders and a chrome chainguard for it, a little handlebar basket with pink-and-purple shooting stars on it, and a pair of pink-and-purple tassels for the handlebars. The frame is bright purple with silver glitter accents, and I have silver glitter grips for the handlebars. I’m getting the banana seat re-covered in silver glitter vinyl. It’s going to have three brakes; a coaster brake plus front and rear handbrakes. I’ve got little pink-and-purple snap-on stars to stick on the spokes of the wheels. It’s going to be completely over-the-top, and as soon as it’s together, I will post pictures. That’s both a promise and a threat!

3 Responses to “Beginning at the beginning:”

  1. Jennifer says:

    Wow! That’s some bike essay! I’m pretty impressed! Well, there will be no entries on my site for the 3 weeks my mac is in the shop, but I will use that time wisely…. I’m heading over to my folks to see if I can dig out some old photos of my bikes!

    Also, LOVING the courderoy/swimsuit outfit. Reckon I could beat it though ;o)

  2. Amblus says:

    Very nice collection! I love the paint job on the Bianchi.

  3. meetzorp says:

    Thank you! I am still rather proud of that one.

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