Back in the Saddle Again

We have had a really cold, wet, dismal “spring” this year in the “D”. This weekend was among the first nice ones we’ve had in a while – so the Legal Eagle and I rode through the hood today.

But first, a nod to my new sadddle, a Gilles Berthoud “Aspin”, which my wife found at Peter White Cycles.  La voila:

A birthday gift from the lovely Jennifer

Très jolie, n’est-ce pas? And very comfortable, particularly since I’ve done just about everything but ride my bike this spring. It’s worth considering if you’ve got a Brooks in mind and want to try something different. I have a few other Berthoud items – panniers, front bag, etc., and am really pleased by their quality. Like  Henry Royce said: “The quality will be remembered, long after the price is forgotten”.

Our journey today took us down Kercheval to Van Dyke, up Van Dyke to Nevada (also known as 6-1/2 mile road), over to Woodward, down to the Avalon on Cass, a quick traverse of the Eastern Market and the Dequindre Cut, back up Larned, left on Iroquois, right on Kercheval, and back to our respective homes.

It was a beautiful day in the hood. The Fire Station on Crane near Kercheval has reopened. We spoke to a nice firefighter who was actually on his first day of work.  The station was built in 1900:

Back in Business – serving the neighborhood for 111 years.

Oh, and if you’re wondering (or not, because I’m going to show the photo anyway), this is the home of Engine 14

Engine 14, soaking up the sunlight

A short while later, the Legal Eagle stopped to adjust his front derailleur, as it was rubbing against the chain enough to make us both crazy.  Here he is, ready to repair the faulty component.

The Legal Eagle about to apply his mad mechanical arts skillz

 I thought I had captured most of the photo ops on Van Dyke, but actually saw a couple of visuals that struck my fancy:

No relation to mister arthur, I’m afraid. I dig the crown – but I think “Car Wash” is two words

Mister Splash appears to be quite new, (or at least has a new sign), which is nice, since, sadly, most of the neighborhood is going in the opposite direction.

Here’s a church (there are A LOT of churches on Van Dyke) that uses glass blocks to advertise itself.  It seemed appropriate to snap a photo of this, given that we escaped the Rapture predicted by that nut job from Oakland, California.

Stained glass “window”,  D style.

It wouldn’t be a proper Tour De Hood without a mystery sign or two. A bit farther along, we pedaled by a place for aficionados of previously-ruined vehicles:

I think the font they used for “Cars” is “Junk Regular”.  Please note the star bursts.

The “Tippin Inn” has tipped out, I’m sad to say.  It has a very mysterious message on its sign board, which looks like an especially bad rack of Scrabble® tiles.

I don’t know where to begin.

If you have any idea what the sign said, please send me a note. BWIG BORD UTE TE!

Further down Nevada, (but before the intersection of Nevada and Lumpkin Street), we passed a repurposed small manufactory. It may not be readable in the amateurish photo below, but the building was a temporary  haunted house. Hence the skeleton on the front door.

I guess the market for recaps isn’t what it used to be

There’s a police department building next door. Not that that explains the buoy on the lawn.

Avast, scurvy gangsters!

Across the street is an easier to understand ad for an attorney that gets right to the point:

Everything spelled correctly, except perhaps the name of the artist: Gallary?

The Legal Eagle has a theory that if you see a yellow building, chances are it’s a tire shop. Case in point, this retail establishment that has no evident name, unless it’s owned by

Open Days. Not sure which ones, or whether that means they’re closed at night.

We also passed a private club that may also be a motorcycle club. Whatever the truth, the Legal Eagle was pleased to note that the Wild Dawgs are (is?) an LLC.

I wonder if Deputy Dawg is a member

That’s all the photos for this week. We did stop for comestibles at the Avalon Bakery, and we had a nice tailwind back up Kercheval.  Lovely day.

Here’s a map of our route for your delectation.

DeTour De Hood

I found myself in Annapolis, Maryland this Tuesday, and availed myself of the opportunity to visit Velo Orange, a delightful bike shop run by Chris Kulczykcki.  As he puts it on the Velo Orange website,

Most cyclists don’t race, yet they ride uncomfortable racing bikes and try to go too fast and so miss much of the world around them.  Our emphasis is on a more relaxed and comfortable style of riding, and on refined bikes that are as comfortable on a century ride, an inn-to-inn tour, or even on a ramble down your favorite dirt road.”

I think he makes an excellent point. Road cycling is dominated, unfortunately, by people who act as if they’re bench members of a Tour De France team, in full spandex & carbon fiber. That’s ok, but there’s room for a more aesthetic form of cycling, as Chris’ statement points out. There are a couple of excellent bicycle and accessory purveyors out there who seem to share the same viewpoint, namely Rivendell, Wallingford Bicycle Parts, and Peter White Cycles. There are more shops like them, I’m sure, but those three (plus Velo Orange) are the ones I know best. Copenhagen Cycle Chic, while not a store, has a manifesto dedicated to styling riding. (Check out the links. It’s been called the Sartorialist of Cycling)

Chris is a very charming fellow, and one of the things I like is that he has his own frames and accessories manufactured to his specifications. Much of what he sells you simply can’t find elsewhere. He freely admits that his small company is a mail order company, but he does have a small show room, which I visited, it being only a couple of miles from my hotel. Here are some absolutely horrible photos I snapped while on my visit.

showroomA selection of built-up Velo Orange frames

chainguardsVintage French Chain Guards

hamperLovely Front Hamper

displaycaseA truly terrible photo of some nice, shiny bits, including a handlebar and stem I bought for my wife’s bike

lugn650Lugged Velo Orange Frame with 650B-tired bicycle in background.

I bought myself a treat – a Brooks Swallow-ish saddle Velo Orange has made under its own name. (For my fixed gear) Nice black leather and copper rivets.  It’s super cool. (And half the price of a Brooks).  If you’re tired of mass-made soulless big brand bikes, take some time and explore Velo Orange and the other shops I’ve listed earlier in this post. Who knows? You might even see the logic of putting fenders on your bike. (Egad!)

Schwalbe tires are great

I love Schwalbe tires. I’ve used their Marathon slicks, my touring bike has their Marathons on it, and I just put a pair of Schwalbe Stelvios on my fixed gear.

The Stelvios feel great, are light, are pretty easy to install, and can be inflated to 145 lbs./sq. in. After a more reasonable time span, I’ll let you know how susceptible to flats they are. (They’re not supposed to be flat-resistant). Schwalbe isn’t well known here. I first encountered them on my bike ride across Spain. Every tourer seemed to have them on their bike. I had been a Michelin user, but since they’re not my company’s client any more, I’ve moved on. The Pro Races I had on my Pegoretti were flat magnets.

Schwalbe Tires are not widely distributed; I got mine from a slightly eccentric, but excellent bike shop in New Hampshire.  Peter White Cycles. Fast, friendly service, as they say in some ads…