Monday, June 21, 2010

Home stretch

After I got the frame back from Leon's son, I rode it back over to Greenpoint to get the color powdercoat done. We took a moment to lament Leon's fate. Apparently he was sharp as a tack up through his last days. He was 93. I wonder what his secret was.

I decided to go with a deep bluish indigo for the frame color. The color scheme (blue frame and gold decal) is a little kiss to my Swedish heritage. Here's how it turned out (waiting for the final moment to christen it with the decal):

The last detail that remained was the fork, or more specifically, the absurdly long steerer tube. You can see how long it is in this photo:

For several reasons that will go unshared, I had to go on another wild goose chase to find someone who would thread and cut the steerer tube down to the correct height. This was easier said than done, but yet again, the internet provided the answer. I found an eccentric guy on an online bike forum who offered to do it for $25. I just had to take the train up to Westchester to come to his shop. He was clearly one of those old school roadies who loved talking bikes to anyone. In fact, he even knew the guy from Madison who had modified the frame! He told me that it was very unusual for this guy to make a mistake, so of course it had to be the one irreplaceable frame that he messed up. (I'm obviously not naming the Madison guy or his shop on purpose, out of respect, if you haven't figured that out by now.) He seemed very knowledgable and confident in his abilities, so I decided to go for it.

His "shop" turned out to be the 2nd floor of a huge warehouse with an office in front that hadn't been redecorated and perhaps not even cleaned since the mid '70s. Piles of paper, miscellaneous tools and bike parts adorned every bit of free space. There were probably 60 rows of bicycle brakes alone lined up on the floor of one room. This man was *quite* the character and clearly not someone who liked to play by the rules. I learned almost his entire life story in the brief time that I was there. He wasn't a fan of the environmental nonprofit at which I work--said we resort to "scare tactics". Whatever. I just kept my mouth shut and struggled to keep my facial expression neutral. He did seem to have some respect for my other career (opera) and shared memories of singers from the Met coming to perform at his high school auditorium in the Bronx when he was a kid--I guess we did have some common ground.

So, all in all, a funny experience and just another colorful detail to add to this already outrageous story. Unfortunately, the fork didn't end up working for technical reasons that didn't have to do with the threading and that only the biggest bike fanatics would find interesting. Maybe not even them. Maybe only bike mechanics. Anyway, if you ask, I'll tell you, but I won't bore everyone else with the details. We chose a chrome lugged fork to replace it and I'm actually quite happy with how it looks. I may be able to make the original fork work in the future, if I find a framebuilder to weld a different steerer tube onto it. I'm pondering the various ways I can enshrine the fork at home in the meantime. Suggestions welcome.

With the frame modifications complete, all that remained was to put everything together. My shop built me some beautiful wheels with 36-hole silver Mavic Open Pro rims and Panaracer Rivendell Ruffy Tuffy gumwall tires, armed with a Kevlar belt to withstand the rubble-laden streets of New York. I tried to be as patient as possible while my shop made the final tweaks. Any day now...

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