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Bicycle RacingPicture showing the ladders Sparky used to get up to his bicycle

by Sparky

We was watching the Tour de France bicycle race the other day, when I got to thinking about my bicycle that sits on a reel high shelf in the family room.  I figgered that I could get it down and oil it up reel good and then I could go and get into that race and be even more famouser than I already am.

You ken see by the picture at right, that it's a pretty big bicycle, and Picture showing how high the seat on the bike isit would be capable of winning a race, but I'll probably need to clean it up a little and make sure all the bearings are oiled and properly adjusted, cuz that's a reel hard race.  (you ken jest click your mouse thingy on the picture and make it reel big, and that'll also show you more of the picture that I cut off to fit on this page).

Well, there's only one problem that I found out so far, and that's that the seat is too tall fer my legs, and it doesn't adjust down any, so I guess I won't be able to use this bicycle unless I learn to weld, so I ken cut apart that frame and make a lower seat.

I also remembered that we have a little Rickshaw bike that came fromThis is the other bicycle, with a trailer for snacks Thailand with my brother Ty, but that's mostly a fake Rickshaw that they made out of sticks and weeds, and it won't make it in a bike race very long, but we also have a heavy duty bike that has a little trailer, so I ken take along some root beer and chocolate chip cookies on the bike race, so the next picture shows me on that bike.

The pedals are also too short on this bike, so I don't know which one would be the easiest to modify.

Anyhow, I didn't reely want to go to the race in France, cuz besides French One of them snails smiling cuz the race had to stopFries, I don't think I would like French Food very much.  I heard they eat snails over there, and since they like snails so much, if there is a herd of snails crossing the road, everybuddy in the bike race has to jest stop and let them snails run by so none of them gets smooshed.  It's alright to eat some of them, but don't dare smoosh any of them!

They also have a race in Italy, and I might like that one, cuz I like eating spaghetti, but somebuddy said that they eat a lot of eels over there, so I guess that if the eels decide to cross the road they'll stop the race for that.

I'm gonna check on if they have a race in Germany, cuz that's where they invented hamburgers and hot dogs, and I reely like both of them, even if I can't get no French Fries, so that's probably my favorite place right now.  I'll let you know what I finally decide to do, and I'll have to decide what to do about a bicycle, as far as the pedals being too short.

UPDATE, July 6, 2004

Well, I jest found out that you have to fly on a airplane to get to any of them races I mentioned above.  That also means that you have to get a lot of shots that they give you with a needle in your butt, and they won't let me take my little cowboy gun on the airplane, and they also wanted me to build a wood crate for my bicycle and pay exter to send it along with me.  And they also wanted to see my receipt from the store where the old folks bought me, and since I threw that away a long time ago, that can't happen.Old fashioned Arkansas Bike

"The Tour de Arkansas"

Now I'm checking out the "Tour of Arkansas," and I ken get there easily by getting in a cardboard box with my bike and some snacks and getting into the UPS truck fer the trip.  So far it's looking reel easy fer a bike race.

To qualify, you jest give a "Good old boy" (That's his title), five bucks. Good old boy's pickup truck, full of rare artifacts Then you have to ride your bike about 50 feet or so, to his pickup truck, and around it, then back to his chair under the umbrella.  You ken click on the picture of his pickup at right to see all the rare artifacts this old boy has collected since that pickup was new).

Anyhow, the race isn't anywhere as hard as the ones in France and Italy.  The Good Old Boy said that you jest need to race twicet around the abandoned Arkansas-Mart Store, then around his pickup and back to his chair and the first one to get back wins first prize, guaranteed.  The second guy that gets back wins second place, but also has the option to pay another 5 bucks to also win a duplicate first place prize.  The third guy back automatically wins third place, but then with 10 bucks he ken also get a duplicate first place trophy.  That rule goes on through 10th place, and you ken get a first place trophy fer a total of 50 bucks, including the entry fee.  Then they start a new race.

It's reely a very simple race, and it gives everybuddy that has a little cash a chance to win the race.  That reely sounds fair to me.  And the Good Old Boy said I would be able to race with my Powerful Steam Shovel or Powerful Bulldozer instead of a bicycle, so that also sounds reel good to me.

I'll let you know the results as soon as I get things finalized and get back from the race!

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Jim’s Frankenstein Bike

By Jim MeagherJim's Frankenstein Bike

I can always keep anything fixed and use it till I get my money’s worth out of it.

At least that’s what I used to believe.

That was before I had decided to repair a few things on my nearly new (at the time) 20-year-old $200.00 bicycle. The kids had bent both wheels while checking out how well they could jump it off curbs and the like. So I spent 4 or 5 hours tweaking the spokes and hammering on the rim before breaking down and spending $125.00 on some new heavy duty special wheels. Since it happened in the fall, I put the bike and wheels away for the winter and threw out the receipt.

Come Spring I discovered that the hole for the valve stem was too small for my tube and the rim was very narrow for my knobby tires. I went storming back to the bike shop where the kid showed me that with slightly different tires everything would be just fine. So I bought a pair of $20.00 tires and they fit the rims. I forgot to ask the kid about the small hole for the valve stem, so I just drilled them out to a standard size that would fit my tubes. As I found out later, this was a good idea, because the tubes intended to be used with those wheels require an adapter to be used when filling them with air. Not a nice fact to learn when out on a long ride.

Then the chain got rusty so I decided to put on a new one and take care of it this time. The new chain was $28.00, and after looking for nearly an hour I discovered that bicycle chains apparently don’t have a master link. You need this “special tool” to take the old one apart and put the new one together after taking it apart to make it the correct length for your bicycle. The tool was another $20.00, as I recall, plus a bottle of chain lube for another four bucks.

Adding a kickstand only cost me about $12.00, and it fit right on after I ground the bracket a little to fit the frame. Then the pedals started clicking and the balls fell out of one of the ball bearings, so I just bought a new pair, adding toe clips as long as I could get away with only $24.00.

Since pedestrians on bike trails are normally expected to ignore the “keep rNoisy Bike horn that Jim should have bought.ight” rule, I added a tricycle bell after installing an adapter sleeve to the handle bar. I had destroyed one of the hand grips while putting on the bell, so the bell ended up costing a total of $17.00 by the time I was done buying a new pair of grips. I probably should have gotten one of those loud horns, but I tend to be too polite.

A new, softer seat eliminated some painful riding and was worth every penny of what it took to adapt it to the seat post then adapt the new post to the bicycle and add a suitable clamp. I think that particular upgrade set me back about $75.00 or so. But it was worth it. Almost. The seat was still a bit hard, so I added a sheepskin cover over a gel insert to soften it a bit more, for only another $47.00.

The $98.00 bike rack sure made it easier to take the thing to somewhere where it could be ridden easily, as opposed to riding on the dirt road we lived on at the time.

By adding a speedometer (they call it a computer) I was able to make sure that I wouldn’t ever be guilty of speeding, although my overall physical condition pretty much takes care of that concern. A good speedometer, or rather “computer,” costs about $30.00 and only requires another hundred bucks worth of brain damage to install and calibrate for time of day and tire size. From it I learned that down a long hill I can easily hit 20 mph at which time fear takes over and compels me to reach for the brakes. This kind of fear is that which only adults are privy to. You know, the kind of fear that tells you, “You’ll crash and break at least 9 bones in all parts of your body and you’ll look like a fool riding on that gurney in the emergency room.” The other kind of fear that doesn’t apply here is that childhood fear that tells you, “If you crash it’ll only make a lot of noise since you’re smart enough to jump off just before the terrible collision. Anyway, even if you get hurt you’ll just miss that dumb history test in school tomorrow.”

The front brake pads squealed severely, so I bought new pads for both front and rear. That’s when I noticed that one of the rear pads had ground off part of the sidewall of the tire, so after installing the new pads and gaining a new appreciation for those who claim to enjoy working on their bicycles, I went and bought a new tire and then bought the appropriate “special tools” to make mounting the tire easier than the use of a common screwdriver. That time I got by with less than $25.00, and the front brakes only squealed half as bad.

The rear brakes never did grip very tight, so it was suggested that a new, stronger cable would take the springiness out of that handle. Before installing the new cable I couldn’t help but notice that the brake handles were rusted severely and the plastic coating was splitting and coming off next to where the cable connects. I bought a new set of handles for $18.00, and since they were of an improved design, they slipped over the end handle bars as opposed to having a clamp that would permit them to be installed without removing the hand grips. The easiest way to remove hand grips is to not spend that half hour trying to save them first. Just cut them off and buy another pair for $14.00.

The easiest way to replace that brake cable is to not do it. Alternatively, you can cut one end off of the old cable and pull it out, then attempt to thread the new cable through the outer covering. Of course, when you try to push a frayed end of cable through the tiny conduit with all its curves and bends it would be expected to get caught within the first several inches. The best solution would seem to be to just buy a complete new cable. This is potentially fraught with many trials and tribulations, since these “universal” cables can normally be expected to fit every lawnmower, motorcycle, boat, airplane, chainsaw, snowblower or bicycle ever manufactured...except for yours. I took the smart way out. I left the original cable alone and live with spongy rear brakes.

At this point I had practically a new bike, except that the crank was clicking. Rather than risk the sudden exodus of its balls from its ball bearing while a long distance from the car, I set about to repair it. I quickly found out that they don’t “exactly” have a new assembly that fits all bikes. They have several choices, possibly numbering in the hundreds, so I would need to take the bike in to them so they could try to find out which one might be expected to fit and exactly which adapters would be needed.

I never did like dealing with adapters for such a seemingly simple problem, so I dismantled the crank and bearings. For the first time I got off lucky. I only cut two of my fingers, and managed to fix the click by putting the tiny ball back into its stamped housing and bending the tab a bit to hold it in. The addition of some better grease took care of the problem for a trifling expense, save for my injuries and lengthy expenditure of time. My only regret would have to be that I missed out on being able to end up with what they call a “long stroke crank,” which, it was explained would give me more power for climbing hills. Somehow, 5mm of additional stroke, sounds like a massive amount until you realize that it is only about 3/16”. That’s half the size of an M&M candy, to put it into perspective. I do believe I could achieve better results by fastening a playing card to buzz against the spokes like we did as kids. (Remember, noise is approximately 51.9471%, or just over half, of any illusion of power).

During all this it became obvious that both of my nearly new wheels had developed loose spokes, so, you guessed it, they have this “special tool” that is used to tighten them. And it does, indeed, fit “most” spokes. It even fit my spokes, so I just went round and round tightening them and pretty soon had two wheels just like the ones I had originally taken off and thrown away, except that the rims weren’t bent. After about six or seven hours I had trued them up so closely that only somebody looking at them could detect any wobble. This wobble was not noticeable unless the wheel was turning. And the spongy brake cable actually helped absorb the pulsations, so once again I am glad that I left well enough alone.

Being at this point mindful of the need to carry a bottle of water, I bought one of those water bottles that fits into a little wire holder that you purchase and fasten to one of the frame members. What a great invention! It is only superseded by one that has a compartment on the bottom that holds a small assortment of emergency tools and tube patch kit. Of course, I bought it. Then I had to figure out how to mount it to the bicycle frame. I finally drilled and tapped two holes and fastened the thing on. The water sort of tasted like rubber, but other than that, I felt a certain security just by having those tools with me at all times.

I also determined that I should have a bag that would mount on the handlebars, so that I might carry all of my “special tools” with me at all times, plus a few other items that might come in handy when more than 2 blocks from the car. I broke my tricycle bell when moving it to mount the bag, so then I had to go back and buy a better one, which went on easily after sawing off the old one to avoid destroying yet another set of grips. I sense some sort of conspiracy between different manufacturers to help sell more hand grips.

I heard about a better seat when my sheepskin pad wore out, so I bought one, and it was just terrible. The addition of a special Gel pad and cover made it much better at a cost of only about $80.00 for both, that is after the $46.00 for the seat. By raising the seat up very high, I found out that I could get better leverage for easier pedaling, and the longer seat post and adapters only cost $19.95, plus $8.95 for a better clamp to prevent the seat from working its way back down as I rode.

This bike just kept getting better and better!!

With the seat higher my wrists then took more of a load and the length of ride was in a large part determined by how much pain my wrists and shoulders could endure. They have a fix for this, I was told. Simply raise the handlebars the same amount I had raised the seat and my problems will be solved.

Trouble is, my handlebar stem only went up about an eighth of an inch before getting to the line stamped in it that says, “Danger, do not raise beyond this line.”

Yes, of course they have a longer handlebar mount. And it’s only $19.95 for the cheap one or $39.95 for the real good one.

 Trouble is, I’d have to cut off those hand grips to change the handlebar to the new stem. I could avoid all this by buying an entire new assembly including handlebars for $89.95, plus another ten bucks for yet another set of hand grips. Here we go again. I’ve already got a lot of money in this bike to get it almost to where I like it, what’s another $100.00? Then I’ll have a really good bike that is cobbled together in such a way that nobody in his right mind would steal it. While I’m at it, for only about $150.00 plus another $15.00 for the adapter sleeves I can add front forks with suspension, which should give me a very smooth ride. Then a new seat post with suspension and a set of adapter sleeves included for around $100.00 should make it ride like a limousine.

Oops, the guy from the bike shop just called me back. Seems as though my new brake handles won’t fit the new handlebars, and I should get a new pair for $23.95. Then with the new brake cables to fit the new handles and the new shifter kit to also fit the new handlebars, I’ll only end up with a total of about $289.95 including the hand grips, and my bike will be as good as new…except we’ll need a different bell to fit between the shifter and the bag mount, unless I get that new bag that’s made to fit that application! Oh, yeah, I almost forgot about those brake cables that might not fit my frame perfectly.

I dunno, I just noticed that the paint is looking a bit ragged.

This time I really seem to have lucked out! A guy at another bike shop just called to let me know that he has a brand new frame assembly that should fit all my other parts, and it includes two bags of assorted adapters, and it has a really great paint job, and at $129.95 it would be far cheaper than sending mine out to get it painted. AND, don’t stop before reading this sentence, he found an old man in Cleveland who can make me a full set of cables, custom tailored and guaranteed to fit that new frame, for only $26.50 each.

I’m not quite sure what to do. I’m going to guess that when I get everything all together and try to ride the thing it’ll turn out that my old cranks won’t quite fit the new frame, even with all the adapters, and there’s still the matter of the wobbly wheels and spongy rear brakes, so I think I’ll just….buy a new bike!!!!!

Anybody need a 20 year collection of boxes of assorted adapter sleeves?


Well, I made the decision and bought myself a new bike that already had all the longed-for high tech features. It had a pretty paint job, front suspension, suspension on the seat post, brakes that don’t squeak, wheels that don’t wobble, and since I bought it with all the features already put on it, everything already fits!! It’s just great!!!

Except that I think I need to add one of those speedometers, oops, I mean computers, and, of course, I’ll need a new bag for the handlebars because the old one looks kind of shabby. And, of course, a kickstand. A new bell will also look better due to some considerable amount of rust on the old one. And, of course, I’ll need a couple of those water bottle holders and new water bottles, because the old ones are also quite shabby.

Then there’s the matter of my old, not-very-cool helmet, it should be updated as well. And the gloves should also look cool. Or at least cooler than my old pair of “White Mule” leather work gloves that have served me well for all these years, and only cost me $1.50 per pair in the bulk pack.

I should also get a better carrier for the back of the car, since the old one doesn’t work very well with the different frame of the new bike, especially when carrying two bikes. The handlebars and brake handles get in each other’s way.

The guy at the bike shop mentioned that I could get a longer handlebar stem with adapters that would permit me to relocate the handlebars out of the way of the other bike for a better fit on the old carrier. And in the slim event that the adapters don’t quite fit, he has a bunch of them I would be welcome to dig through to get things to work.

Of course, the best bet would be to just buy the correct bike rack to begin with. The problem is that the better one needs a 2” trailer hitch receiver, while my car only has a 1¼” receiver, so I would either need to get a different trailer hitch, which might not be available for my car, or perhaps the manufacturer of the bike rack can get me a special adapter to utilize the better bike rack. At any rate, it would only cost in the neighborhood of “from $50.00 to under $400.00.”

Hmmmmm. This is beginning to sound all too familiar.

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Copyright (C) 2004 by James J. Meagher