Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

19 February 2018

Just A Banana Peel Away...

Today is Presidents' Day in the US.

In past years, I've shown pictures of our leaders on bikes. Two years ago, I wrote about the origins of Presidents' Day automobile sales in the Washington's Birthday bicycle sales late in the 19th century.

Today I'm going to talk about one of the most maligned Presidents of our history.

To be fair, Gerald Ford ascended to the office under difficult circumstances:  His predecessor, Richard Nixon, had resigned because he was on the brink of impeachment.  

People might've cut Ford some slack had they elected him as Vice President.  The problem was, Ford became Nixon's second-in-command when his predecessor, Spiro Agnew, resigned his office as part of a deal to keep himself out of prison for, among other things, tax evasion.

Thus did Ford become the first unelected President in US history.  Some people felt resentful of this, which alone would have been enough to sully his reputation. Fair or not, it's not the only reason why, whether professional historians or laypeople are polled, he ranks low among Presidents.  

Aside from the way he came into the office, another thing some people hold against him was his pardoning of Nixon.  But, whatever people think of that, or any of his other actions, the only other thing people seem to remember about him is his clumsiness.  According to a popular joke of the time, Nelson Rockefeller, his vice-president, was just a banana peel away from the presidency.

From what I understand, though, "Gerry" wasn't always so cllumsy.  After all, he was an athlete in his youth.  And he managed to look pretty good on a bike:


Gerald Ford, surrounded by his cousins in front of his childhood home in Grand Rapids, Michigan

18 February 2018

Out For A Walk?

Sometimes, when I see a small person with a really big dog, I wonder who is walking whom?

Of course, if the dog is leashed to a bike, neither the canine nor the cyclist are walking each other.  But I have to wonder whether the dog is pulling the cyclist:



What's that about a dog's life?

17 February 2018

Ebony, Ivory....And Rubies

Did Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney go to the North American Handmade Bicycle Show?

They probably didn't. But Helio Ascari did.



Of course, he brought something he crafted in his Brooklyn workshop.  The Brazilian-born custom bike builder is probably best known for wrapping leather string around his frame tubes to make them look as if they're woven, like baskets.  While the work is eye-catching, it's probably not surprising when one realizes that Ascari has made furniture and leather goods, and restored antiques.

The "something" he brought to the show takes his showmanship to another level.  It draws on skills acquired in other work he did before he became a bike builder:  as a fabricator of steel goods, and in the fashion industry. 



The bike in question, which starts with one of his leather-wrapped, Columbus-tubed frames, includes dynamo hub lighting and a Brooks B17 saddle with large copper rivets.  All right, those things are nice, but not terribly unusual. 

There's more copper-- and brass-- in accents on  the frame.  Oh, and carbon fiber-reinforced beech wood Ghisallo rims.



But the pieces de resistance are the brake levers made of gold and ebony--and 13 rubies applied on various parts of the bike, including the levers.



For only $38,000, it could be yours.  Or Paul's.  Or Stevie's.