Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Old Homestead

Here are some pics I took during summer vacation around my wife's parents' house. It's a nice little place on the westernmost edge of the Berkshire Mountain range, as they peter out into the Hudson River valley. Very photogenic. The house started out as a pre-fab, brought out in two big pieces and assembled over a full basement. The back porch, the extension in the front and the front porch were added on later.

This is what you see after you've driven down most of the driveway:

My in-laws own all the way up to the ridge behind the house.

The front porch is a great place to hang out.

Mr. & Mrs. Doohickie (me & the wife) on the front porch. I've lost almost 30 pounds since this picture was taken!

The back yard is pretty nice too.

If you keep going beyond the edge of the mowed area, you come to a little creek (which was dry by July).

Looking towards the back of the house from the creek bed:

Monday, October 27, 2008

My bikes

Part 4: 1984 Schwinn World Sport

I just picked this one up today for $10 after seeing it on Craigslist. There was no picture, just a price and the fact that it has 27" wheels. The best part was, it was only a mile and a half away, only a few blocks from our first house.

Total impulse buy, but it fits in with my plan to permanently retire my damaged Nishiki Olympic 12. It has comparable components to the Nishiki, but they're not in very good shape because the bike looks like it was kept outside. Before moving the components from the Olympic 12 over to the Schwinn, I think I'll repaint the Schwinn since it has a lot of nicks and scrapes and a few bare spots.

I guess I gotta replace that rear tire!

At what point does a hobby become and addiction? I am pretty practical about my bike purchases- the first one was to commute with; the second one is a classic and I use it for short trips to the store and stuff, and this one will replace my old damaged one. But this makes three in two months. I guess the good news is that each one has cost about 1/3 of the previous one. And except for the paint, I don't think this one will require any money to get it on the road.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

More Summer Memories

After getting back to Lake George Village after kayaking, we decided to "invade" colonial-era Fort William Henry.

The tour is worth it. They guys who conduct it are in period dress and adopt, to some extent, the British accents. They also inject enough humor in their presentation (including Montey Python references) to keep things interesting.

There were some great views from the fort...

...including this strange one of a canon aimed at one of the steamboats, with a para-sail in the background.

Back to the tour: They showed how bullets were made way back when.

They also demonstrated how to shoot the gun, and the canon.

They also "recruited" some of the younger kids in the crowd and taught them some basic drill.

After the tour was done, we were able to explore the inside of the fort at our leisure.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Memories of Summer

Okay, so.... I meant to post more pics of our summer vacation but never got around to it. Now that the weather is cooling off, maybe posting summer pics is a good idea.

Anyway, on our trip to New York this summer, our oldest son's birthday came while we were visiting Grandma and Grandpa. I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, and he said he wanted to go kayaking. So after checking around, we decided to go up to Lake George and check it out. So the four of us (me, Mrs. Doohickie, and my two sons) drove,

And drove,

And finally got to Lake George.

My wife didn't have any desire to get into a little boat and paddle out into the middle of a big lake, especially one one with big boats with big motors. So she stayed in Lake George Village and took in the local shops.

Me, on the other hand... well, I didn't want to do that stuff either, but I'm the dad, so I kind of felt like I had to go kayaking with the boys. We drove up the length of the lake a bit up to Bolton Landing where there were allegedly kayaks for hire.

Now, I had never been in a kayak, didn't want to be in a kayak, and frankly, I weighed the kayak down quite a bit. Since it was my older son's birthday, he got his own kayak, and since I had never done this before and was petrified at the thought of going out on the lake in such a small boat, I got a two-person kayak with my younger son.

The whole way out, I looked at the edge of the boat, and noticed that, for the most part, it was only 3 inches above the water. I say "for the most part" because that was only in smooth water. When power boats rocketed buy, the waves came right up to the edge of the boat or even came in a bit. Despite my sons' assurances, I kept picturing getting out into the middle of the lake, the boat swamping, us not being able to get it righted, and having to swim back to shore with unknown sea monsters nibbling our toes the whole time. Ah, the pleasures of the "responsible adult."

So we paddled out a good long ways, then decided to turn toward home. By now I was starting to get used to being out on the water and not quite so afraid. See? I don't look afraid (do I)?

Even if I was concerned, the boys were enjoying themselves.

The view on the lake was quite beautiful and I really enjoyed it, even if it was tempered with the thought that I could drown and this would be me last view of the world.

So finally we headed for the dock. It's kind of funny now, but at the time I was kind of dismayed to find out there was a southerly breeze that helped us paddle to the north quite effortlessly, but fought us on our return trip. Eventually, though, we did make it back to dry land. Now, my older son had gotten kinda wet in his kayak. He figured the best way to dry off his socks was to hang them on the window and roll it up to hold them in place.

On the way back, my younger son took some pics along the road. Lake George is a beautiful area. Some areas along the lake are timeless, going back a century or more; other areas are straight out of the mid-20th Century.... like the resort in the movie Dirty Dancing.

But we weren't done yet. There was more to see in Lake George...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Breakfast Ride

So I did a breakfast ride on my bike this morning. I met with a bunch of people from the bike club where I work and we rode to breakfast. I rode to and from the meetup point, so I ended up going 46 miles. That's the most I've ridden in one day in over 25 years. It was a good workout, but WOW!

There were 14 riders in two classes. The Swifties were the guys who like to race around. I rode with the Pacers, who go at a medium clip (I think we averaged 13 mph). I took the hybrid (which turned out to be the only non-road bike in the group).

There was one mishap. One of the managers from my office went down around a corner. Lost grip on the back tire and went down fast and hard. His wife was right behind him and couldn't unclip her pedals fast enough, and she went down too. He was pretty sore and not too roadburned; she was just a little bumped up. They both continued the ride but I be they're both sore right now!

And THAT is why I'll stick with a thick-wheeled hybrid and open toe clips!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My bikes

Part 3: 1966 Raleigh DL-1 Tourist, "The Old Gentleman"

When I bought my newer Nishiki, there was another bike there as well. Shortly after buying the Nishiki I had a business trip and couldn't ride for two weeks. Two things sank in during the trip: I decided I didn't want to bicycle commute once in a while, but EVERY SINGLE DAY, if possible. The second thing that kind of planted itself in my mind was that I wanted to look at that other bike.

The only things I could remember was that it was old and it was a Raleigh.

When I got back from my trip, I made good (so far, anyway) on commuting more often. I also got another look at that Raleigh. It had two flat tires, rusty chrome everywhere, an old, cracked, leather seat (oh... um... on bicycles I understand they are referred to as saddles by those who are knowledgeable about such things), some wires hanging limply that went from a generator to a headlight, a 3-speed hub and some weird looking, funky brakes.

I decided to buy The Old Gentleman, as I've begun to call him, and took him home. I took some pictures that first night. Not much to look at- an old, worn-out saddle, a saddle bag with broken straps, the wires hanging around...

Note the old headlight...

...and original frame pump.

Wait a minute... what's going on with those brakes?

I came to learn that this bike as "roller lever" or "rod" brakes. Instead of a cable, they have a hard linkage all the way back. Instead of squeezing the rim like caliper brakes do, they are pulled up into the inside of the rim. This was done to make the brakes more rugged for bikes intended for the English countryside.

Still, even that night, The Old Gentleman had a stately profile

There was a City of Houston registration sticker on the bike from 1975, so it's at least that old. I learned that the Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub has a date code on it, and the one on this bike is 65 12, which means it was made in December, 1965. Based on that, I'm calling this a 1966 model.

I cleaned The Old Gentleman up a bit- shined up the chrome, waxed the frame and lubed the working bits. I also did some basic maintenance- reconditioned the Brooks saddle, replaced the shifter cable which was kinked, and replaced the saddle bag with a NOS (new, old stock) bag of the same style. Then I added some Wald baskets front and back, and now The Old Gentleman is ready for duty as a grocery getter and back-up commuting bike.

Me, with my new bikes.