Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

It truly is the most hallowed night and day of the year. Christians celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Yes, The Six is an unabashed, unapologetic and proud Christian man.

Being a Christian is as much a part of me as being a man. Faith is as much a part of my character as honor.

I am taking this night and day and putting all my cares and worries aside.

Instead, I will contemplate the gift of Jesus to all. Redemption.

May the Lord guide us all through another year. May he watch over and keep safe our warriors, police officers and firefighters serving in harms way. May he give comfort to their families and loved ones. May he bless each and every one of you.

I send my love and best wishes to each of you who have touched my life this past year.

Thank you my friends and Merry Christmas.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I'm temporarily interupting the program to bring you this story.
A few months ago I decided it would be great to get some of my friends from work together for a nice ride. The question was how? How to draw both active/experienced riders and novice/new riders out to a group ride? The answer was to stage a "Ride". Hence the First Annual Monterey Pedal Dawgs Quarter Century. Why Monterey Pedal Dawgs? Well I work for the MPD so....Hey, it was all I could think of and I got no help from the others. Lu and I did the grunt work, setting things up, getting the shirts printed, getting the food lined up, etc. Lu even made these great bibs. Nifty huh?

This is the group. 11 intrepid riders. Most were on MTB's of one stripe or another. Nothing more high tech than Lu and my Giant FCR2's. There were a lot of  pedals without even cages. Lu and I had the only clips in the bunch,

This is my lovely wife, Linda Lu. Lu for short. What's she pointing at you ask? A very good question. She is most definitely not pointing at clear skies and warm sunshine. After unending days, weeks and yea verily even months of fantastic weather we woke up to cold and misty rain. Not Michigan weather I know but I don't want Gene to think we're complete wusses. We are, I just don't want him to know.

We met in the parking lot of the Ft. Ord Dunes State Park. It's on, well, the old Ft. Ord. Near where Stilwell Hall was for the historians out there. Yeah, that's me in the yellow. I'm a walking caution sign.

T-shirts. Get your t-shirts here.

And food. Can't forget the food. I thought there was plenty but when you get 11 people together after a 25 mile ride and most of them have never ridden anything like that mileage before, appetites are commesurate. Let's just say we had enough, barely. BBQ was by yours truly and my world famous Teriyaki chicken vanished like smoke on a windy day.

Good food, great people and a fantastic location made for a wonderful event if I do say so myself.

Everyone made the distance. We even handed out certificates of completion at the end. Why 25 miles? It's just at the edge of doable for novice riders but still a distance that experienced riders can get in a good workout if they push the pace. First place was my good friend Mike at 1 hour 44 minutes. Lu and I were together in second at 1 hour 53. Yeah, not exactly TDF but hey, the spectators seemed happy with the show.
What did I learn?
First, putting on a successful riding event is a lot of work. We had to get the start/finish location, ride the course to make sure of the mileage, name the club (we are so brand new), get the food and arrange for a chef (thank you), make bibs and certificates of completion, arrange for t-shirts, pick a date, pick another date, pick still a third date, get a photographer and timer (thankfully the same person, thanks Paula) and generally coordinate with all participants.
Second. It's a lot of fun. I mean a lot of fun. I highly encourage anyone with an interest to do one. Just get together with your friends/co-workers and do it. We took a 25 mile ride and made it a fun family event. We even got a couple of people involved who hadn't ridden in years. I gave them plenty of work up time to get ready but it was still no mans land for them. The pride they felt on completion was palpable.
We named this the First Annual Monterey Pedal Dawgs Quarter Century for a reason. I may be retiring soon but there will be a Second. I may have to come out here and coordinate it and if so I will. I intend for this to become a regular ride, open to anyone, and I'd like to incorporate a charity like LAF into it.
This is a doable thing for anyone with an interest. If you want to do one but need some pointers or advice please contact me and I'll help as much as I can. If your ride is reasonably close I'll come out and ride it with you.
I'll even BBQ some chicken.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Part II

Luster stumbled out of the cab of his truck in a circle of puke green light. He was followed by a clattering of empty beer cans. Luster knew they were empty because he had sipped each one in the hope of a few drops of that sweet, sweet nectar. He thought he had hit the jackpot on that last one but it had turned out to be piss from his last drunk. At least it had been his own. He hoped. As the light hit his bleary retinas he felt his gorge rise and again tasted the bitter acid of his own urine. He hawked, spat and shielded his eyes as he peered upward. “Whut the hail?” Luster could dimly see something approaching him from the sky and knew immediately what it was. He had four drunk driving convictions on his record, damn cops anyway, and hadn’t had a drivers license in decades. He knew a police helicopter when he saw one. Luster lifted a hand and extended a middle finger as he hollered his disdain for authority everywhere. “Kiss my ass you bastids, I’m sober!” He hoped.


Firth watched as the man exited the vehicle and waved in their direction. He nudged Starth. “What’s he doing?”

Starth was busy being engrossed in his own fantasies. He was imagining the stories he was going to tell about his masterful score. The chicks. The acclaim. He’d be cool beyond measure and to hell with Crath. He shook off his pleasant reverie. “What? How the hell would I know. Go get ready to beam this guy in and don’t screw it up. Put him in the bathroom.”


Luster was just beginning to doubt his assumptions about the identity of the approaching aircraft. It didn’t sound like no helicopter Luster had ever seen and Luster watched a lot of TV. He considered himself an expert on the subject, among many others. He felt a tingling all over his body and was suddenly afraid. He’d experienced this before. “Oh no. It’s the DT’s!” He began flapping his arms and running around the idling pickup, slapping at his body. “It’s the DT’s! It’s the bugs come back to eat me! Lor’ help me!”


Firth slapped the controls to the Axon Beamalyzer, ‘Guaranteed Mutation Free Or Your Money Back’, and watched through the bathroom door as the glow appeared.


Luster felt himself flying. His body was light as a feather and he could feel his spirit soaring skyward. It hit him like one of Lotties canes across the forehead. The light. The tingling. The flying. “Oh shit, I’m daid. Fergive me Lor’. I’s sorry for all my sinnin’ ways. Take me into the light Lor’, take me into the light.” As his eyes whited out, Luster opened his arms wide, prepared to feel Heaven’s embrace.


The first thing Firth noticed was the smell. He’d never met a human but they all couldn’t smell this bad. Could they? He quickly closed the door and looked to Starth, still seated at the controls. “Dude, this guy stinks.” Starth could only smirk.


Luster came to his senses and looked around. White room bathed in a warm light seemingly coming from everywhere. Yep, he was in Heaven. Well, probably Heavens waiting room. The room was kinda small though. Maybe there was separate interview rooms for each person. A place to talk your way into Heaven. Luster quivered in fear for a moment but it quickly passed. Luster had been on a job interview once. It was just like this. He’d gotten the job then hadn’t he? If anyone could talk his way into the Pearly Gates it was ol’ Luster. Luster took a seat on the only piece of furniture in the room and settled in to wait, already rehearsing in his mind.


Starth and Firth approached the bathroom with trepidation. In spite of all Starth’s big talk, they were young and inexperienced in the ways of the Universe. Starth pushed Firth forward. “Go ahead. Open it.”

Firth shied back. “No way. You do it. I saw him already. Smelled him too. This was your brilliant idea so you go ahead. Unless you’re scared?”

Starth was stung. “Scared? By a human? Please.” He felt the reassuring weight of the remote in his hand. “If he so much as jumps I’ll zap him back down and we’ll split, allright?”

Firth, remembering the size and smell of the man, shook his head. “Listen, this isn’t some UFOlogist here. This guy may be crazy. He may be dangerous. He for damn sure is empty handed. Let’s beam him back now and leave. That cult in Colorado is supposed to be meeting tonight. We do a fly by, pick one up and score for sure.”

Starth hissed in negation. “No you moron. It’s not the same. You know the rules. No fans, period.”

Firth nodded his head. “Ok, if that’s what you want. I just want to remind you of why we’re here. We’re here to score, nothing more, and this guy’s got nothing. If you’re only going for style points we may come up empty.”

Starth snorted. “Nothing on him but we haven’t checked his vehicle yet. Relax, it’ll work out. We’ll score but we’ll do it cool.”


Luster was getting nervous. Stone sober, or as close to it as he ever got, and now he was hearing things. It sounded like voices but voices speaking a language Luster couldn’t understand. Luster screwed up his courage and knocked on what was apparently the door to the Heavenly Interview Room. “Angels, can ya’all hear me? It’s me, Luster and Ah’m ready for them Pearly Gates now. Can we get on with this? Please? Hello? Angels, can ya’all hear me?” Nothing. Luster began to sweat. Maybe this wasn’t Heaven at all. Maybe this was Hell and this was Luster’s punishment. Stuck in a tiny room with only one seat and stone cold sober for all eternity. It was unthinkable. Not the room. Luster frankly couldn’t care less, but no Beer? He began to frantically hammer at the door. “Hey Angels! I cain’t understand your Angel talk but I reckon ya’all can unnerstand me so please let me explain. I’s sorry. I never meant any of it if ya’ll just give me another chance. Hello? Angels?”


Firth and Starth shared a long look. Starth broke the silence. “Angels? What is this guy talking about?”

It was Firth’s turn to laugh. “You should try studying sometime genius. It’s religion. This guy thinks we’re a part of their religious pantheon. Thinks he’s in Heaven or something. What a moron.”

Starth snickered. “Yeah. Wait, can we use this? Make him think if he doesn’t give us what we want he’ll be damned forever?”

Firth considered. “I don’t know dude. You know we’re not supposed to scare these people. Sometimes the Brain Ray doesn’t work right and they remember stuff. We might get into trouble. If we mess up our parents will freak. I don’t need to be grounded”

Starth slapped him on the arm. “Will you stop worrying? Our parents aren’t here and I pulled the fuse on the recording systems. Still, we better be careful. The Friendly Alien bit has worked before. Maybe we should just stick to what we practiced.”

Firth regarded the bathroom door, resounding from the heavy blows. “Yeah and hope this guy doesn’t kill us both.”


Luster plopped back down while the second lucid thought of the day penetrated his abnormally thick skull. He took in his surroundings again as he spoke to the walls. “This can’t be Heaven or hell. How did I die? What was that noise? A Green light? There has to be another explanation.” He noticed the top of the chair he was sitting on lifted up, hinged at the rear. He opened it and got a whiff of … something. Something foul. Something odoriferous in the extreme. Luster had never smelled anything exactly like it before but that didn’t throw him. He knew it when he smelled it because he had smelled a lot of it. “Is that …?”


Starth reached for the handle to the bathroom door. He looked to make sure Firth was set. “You ready dude?” Firth nodded. “Ok, here we go.” Starth flung open the door and he and Firth stepped in. They took up positions on either side of the doorway, raised their arms and pointed at the man, who was now laying on the floor. “You are our prisoner Earthman. Cooperate and you won’t be hurt. Oppose us at your peril!” A scream interrupted the speech.


Luster’s moment of coherence passed as the two beings stepped into the room. They were both small, no more than four feet high, with grey skin, large bulbous heads and black eyes. Luster screamed and fainted dead away, never even hearing the melodramatic words.


Firth was first to recover his wits. “Oh shit dude. I think we killed him. What are we gonna do now?”

Starth shook his head. “I don’t know. Is he really dead? Maybe you should check him.” He pushed Firth toward the supine man.

Firth backpedaled like he was being chased by the ugly girl. “Me? Hey, this is your deal. You do it.”

Starth shook his head again. “Not me. I’m not getting near him.” He waved a delicate hand past his nose holes. “Whew. Does he smell that way because he’s dead?”

Firth looked closer. “Well, he pretty much smelled that way when we brought him onboard and I’m sure he was alive then. Wait, his chest is moving. You got a med scanner?”

Starth looked his disdain at his companion. “It’s an Axon InterGalactic Z-Speedster man. It’s got everything. But it’s not programmed for humans.”

“It’s an Axon InterGalactic Z-Speedster. It’s got everything” Firth mimicked. “Everything except a something we actually need!”

Starth tried not to look hurt. “Hey, gotta have an adult code for the re-programming. It’s supposed to cut down on the genetic experimenting by the nerds. What do you want from me? He wasn’t supposed to do this.” Both paused as the man stirred, moaned and broke wind in a loud and noxious manner. Starth started waving at his nostrils again while trying to cover his face with a thin fingered hand. “Well, at least he isn’t dead.”


Luster was dimly aware of a pain in his side. It came and went. When it came he groaned awake and tried to get away from it. When it went he dropped back into his nightmare ridden sleep. The nightmare was a repeater. A grey, shambling horror was poking him with a skewer, as he rotated over a fire, smacking its lips and muttering “Mmmmm. Human.” Luster desperately wanted to wake up but his fear and booze ravaged brain simply refused to cooperate. He slept on.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Very Dry System

In my very first post (way back in February) I mentioned that I would be using this blog as a way to document some stuff, opine about some stuff and try out some stuff I've written. Well, don't say you weren't warned.
As my long suffering family knows only too well, I am a scribbler. That is, I like to write down my ideas and thoughts. Hence this blog. Occasionally those thoughts and ideas manifest themselves as stories. Well, alledged stories at any rate. In that vein I present part 1 of A Very Dry System.
It's a short story I wrote a while back. It's not exactly finished yet so really, I guess you could say I'm still writing it. If you wanted to be petty. Jen and Lu have both chastised me to finish the damn thing already. So. I'm taking a page from Gene and Fatty. I'm going to publicly challenge myself and risk ridicule. I'm going to post it here in the hope that my muse will wake up from her Mt. Dew induced coma and you know, help a brother out. If later on you find this blog has been taken down and see a news article about the cop who joined a monastery in Lhasa you'll know she smacked me a good one, rolled over and went back to sleep. Parts 1 through 3 are done. Really, I just need the ending. That's all. Just a way to wrap things up in a humorous way that reads like I'm not in fact missing a lobe of my brain. Is that too much to ask?
Comments are solicitated and appreciated.
Without further ado.

A Very Dry System  Part 1

Luster was feeling low. Even for a man who was habitually unemployed, drunk and divorced this was a new feeling of low. The problem wasn’t the lack of gainful employment. No, that was his preferred state. Luster hated work and work hated Luster, which suited him just fine. It wasn’t even the high pitched nagging about the lack of spousal support from the latest former missus Luster that was bringing him down. No, this was far, far worse.

Luster was out of beer. Absolutely and totally out of beer. Not completely sober just yet but he’d had his last cold one at Goobs up in Henrietta more than an hour ago and Luster was feeling the need. “That damn stuck up, no good Bobby McAlester” Luster muttered as he drove. “Throw me out. And for what? Just ‘cause I run outta money. Cheapskate bastard. Shoulda kicked his ass.” Luster conveniently forgot that Bobby McAlester was the size of a semi and Luster himself was an alcohol ravaged, pot bellied middle aged man but then, Luster forgot a lot.

Luster pointed his battered pickup down Highway 75 and headed south. No beer, no money and no prospects for either. Luster was a desperate man and sometimes desperate men do desperate things. Luster rubbed a dirty hand across a scalp dotted with a few stray wisps of greasy hair and contemplated doing the unthinkable, asking Lottie for money. For a second, just a second, Luster had a lucid thought. “Has it really come to this? Have I sunk so low? Nob’s hiring down to the Lube and Go. Maybe I should go straight. Get a job, quit drinking and mebbe see my kids.” But Luster was nothing if not proudly self delusional and the coherence disappeared like his welfare money down the g-string of the strippers at Cooties. “Screw that. If Lottie won’t give up the drinkin’ money she’s still got some of her granny’s jewelry left and the hock shop’s open til midnight.” Safely past his moment of introspection, Luster gunned the ailing pickups’ smoke belching engine, the radio blaring out the latest smash hit from The Gobbeldy Boys, ‘Oil Field Hoe Down’. He could just taste that beer.


Starth slapped Firth on a bony grey shoulder and whooped with delight. “We got us a winner Firth. This guy’s carrying for sure.” He started punching controls and turning dials.

Firth suppressed a groan. He felt the craft lurch and noticed they were losing altitude at a fairly alarming rate. Starth was really starting to get on his nerves. “That’s what you said about that fat woman in Arkansas yesterday. And what about the trucker in Omaha? The deputy in Alabama ringing any bells? You haven’t been right since we got here. Let’s just forget this and go find some UFO conspiracy theorist. Crath said that’s what he did and he scored.”

Starth belched a reply. “Crath! Crath’s a damn cheat and a liar. He never even made it to Earth. Got to Andromeda and wussed out. Hung out for a couple of fleebs and came home all wild with stories of how he scored off the Earthmen. What a load of crap.” Starth thought talking in the local patois made him cool.

Even though he himself also did it, Firth thought it made Starth sound like an idiot, but one with a ride that had inter-galactic endurance. It was no small thing even in the rich crowd they ran in so Firth was willing to humor him. “I saw the recordings. Crath scored.” The ship sped up, hurtling toward a small vehicle on an empty stretch of highway. “Hey, you wanna take it easy there cowboy? If you crash us your parents will be royally pissed and the Earthers will probably do another Alien Autopsy.”

Starth waved a spindly fingered hand as if to dismiss any concerns. “Relax. I got this. Gonna zoom this guy, light him up, beam him in and then we’ll see who scores.”

Firth stifled a sigh. Starth really was an idiot.


Luster had an empty feeling deep down in his guts and was starting to shake. Sober was no way for a man to live. He tried coaxing a little more speed out of the dilapidated truck but backed off when the vehicles’ shuddering got so bad it penetrated even his pickled brain. He finally spotted the turn off to Lotties place, Okie Boulevard, and started to slow. As he did he saw a fairly odd thing, odd even for a man who, when deep in the throes of a really good drunk, regularly conversed with Elvis. At least Luster thought it was Elvis. The night suddenly turned into day. Light so bright it hurt his eyes was all around him. Luster was momentarily blinded but his sense of self preservation was as strong as his sense of taste was poor and he reacted fairly quickly, considering. “Whut the hail?” He slammed on the brakes and eventually came to a tire smoking stop. A single smoking tire, the pickup hadn’t been seen the inside of a garage since 1967. The light was getting brighter and now Luster could hear a weird humming sound, like a million bees were trapped in a bottle and were real anxious to get out; and exact revenge on the one who had put them there.


Starth whooped. “Got him! Quick, check if anyone else is around.”

Firth stifled another sigh. “Fine time to be thinking about that. We’ve probably been picked up by every radar on the planet by now.” A wave of Starth’s bony arm showed his level of concern. Firth did a quick check of the crafts sensor block and confirmed they were alone. For now. “It’s clear. No one within sight but let’s not screw around.”

Starth snorted his response. “You worry too much. I know what I’m doing. Flinth did this 2 semesters ago and he taught me everything he knows.”

This information failed to give Firth confidence. Flinth was an even bigger idiot than Starth. If that was possible and Firth was beginning to doubt it was. Starth was currently in a suicidal dive on a lone vehicle on a deserted country road in pursuit of a score that Firth seriously doubted was worth the risk. “Your brother knew munch and you know even less. If you crash and kill us I’m kicking your ass when we get back home. Being killed hurts and bodies cost money. Money my parents will take out of my allowance and I’ve got a date.”

“Relax. I told you, I got this wired. Get ready with the lights on my say so. I got this monkey hooked.” Starth pulled back on the wheel and the craft started leveling off as they neared the incredibly dirty, smoke belching vehicle. “Get ready. Ready. Now! Hit the lights.”

Firth flipped the switch for the Axon Shield Micro Pulse driving lights, guaranteed by the manufacturer to ‘Penetrate The Darkest Interstellar Void Or Your Money Back.’ The road and the small truck were bathed in their intense green glow. Firth remained unimpressed. “Look at that piece of crap. You think we’re gonna score off that? You gotta be insane.”

Starth laughed. “Shows what you know. We’ll score, just you wait and see.”

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


We were working on the new retaining wall the other day. Prior to laying the new wall I had stacked the blocks in that dirt area just in front. I completely forgot that it's the place where my dog, Trooper, likes to lay.  As soon as the last block was placed, he was quick to reclaim his spot. The dirt is cool and soft. It's a place he knows well, having lived here his entire life. He's comfortable and contented.
Trooper is a good dog. That is to say he's a near perfect dog, I just lack the wit to properly appreciate him. 

What a dog. I love him fiercely and I'm not a bit ashamed to admit that.
I held this life in my hands when he was only 5 days old. We were meant to be together.   

In 1995 I decided I wanted another Labrador Retriever. I grew up with them and had a powerful urge for another. Lu did the legwork and found a breeder a couple of hours away. We drove out to meet them and their dogs. I was escorted to a dirt area next to the kennels and the breeder opened a door. Out flooded a wave of black, chocolate and yellow puppies, their bodies wriggling with happiness at meeting someone new. They swarmed around my feet, lapping against my ankles in a deluge of Labrador joy. Shoes were chewed, strings fought and petting was demanded. I was in heaven.

Then he took me to the whelping box where I met one of the sweetest creatures God ever put on this earth. Sister.

Sister was a Black Lab, an absolute joy. I loved her instantly and knew I had to have one of her puppies. Lu was completely surprised. She expected me to take a puppy home that day. But I was hooked and God had a different plan in store for me.

Now, when one buys a purebred puppy from a reputable breeder it's first come first served. Johnny on the spot gets first dibs and so it goes until all potential picks are spoken for. Sister was bred with a Chocolate Lab so she was likely to have a more or less 50/50 split between black and chocolate. I was late to the party. Most of the likely pups had already been spoken for, both colors, down to third and even fourth pick. With one notable exception. That late in the game I got first choice black male. Sister gave birth to exactly 1 black male. Trooper. We were meant to be together. It was God's gift to me, one have never been worthy of.

Trooper was born to Sister on November 30th, 1995. The breeder called me to let me know and 5 days later I was there, standing beside the whelping box and gazing at my new friend. The breeder lifted him up and carefully placed him in my hands. I cradled that tiny form against my chest. He silently mewled and then snuggled in like he had always known me and was just wondering where I'd been.

I brought Trooper home 44 days later. I carried him out to the truck for his ride to his new home. He was fat and soft and warm in my arms. I placed him on the seat next to me and he snuggled against my leg. I put my hand down and he immediately put his head in my palm and went to sleep, somehow secure in the knowledge that this was where he belonged.  

With the exception of a few days here and there when I was out of town for training, we've been together every day since. Our lives entertwined. We learned from each other. I taught him what every good dog needs to know. Good behavior, fetch, hand, voice and whistle commands. He taught me patience, kindness, dignity and the joy in simple pleasures. He got the short end of the stick.

We hunted together, slept together, traveled together and learned together. He has been my constant companion. He has one last thing he's teaching me.

He's old and grey now, mostly blind and almost completely deaf. His left hip was replaced a couple of years ago and sometimes he limps a little. He takes medicine for his thyroid and bad allergies. He sleeps most of the time. His legs twitch in dream chases, his flews blow as he softly barks in delight at some doggie fantasy. But he's still alive. We can still go for walks. Still take rides in the truck. He still loves his nightly treats and having his tummy scratched at bedtime. He still greets me with manic enthusiasm at the end of my work day. He still knows when It's been a bad one and I need him to just love me. He still sleeps at my feet when I sit down to write. He still wants to be near me whenever I'm home. He's still my dog and that's all he's ever wanted to be.

As I watch as Trooper ages and gets ever closer to the Rainbow Bridge, I am reminded that I too am aging and drawing ever closer to the end of my time here. I'm not as fast or as strong as I was. I can't work as hard or as long as I used to. My body aches with old injuries. My youth is behind me and my elder days ahead.

But Trooper does not know that he is getting old. He still thinks like the happy, boisterous, clownish puppy he was. He makes no excuses and never misses an opportunity to have a little fun. He possesses a comic dignity that only another Lab lover can truly understand. He is content in being what he is and to let the world find it's own way. As long as we're together.

And that is his final lesson to me. I will not acknowledge my approaching infirmities. I will not let them get purchase on my soul, whatever they may do to my body. My body may age but I won't. 
I will love each day and approach it without fear or regrets. I will celebrate and laugh and find joy in the small things. I will live what life remains me as fully as I can. Come what may. I will ride my bicycle. I will go on that pheasant hunt I've always dreamed of. I will kiss my wife. I will tell my child and grandchildren that I love them.

I will scratch my dogs belly.

I owe it to Trooper.
Thanks Pal.

Friday, October 2, 2009


I recently finished a class for work. It was the Instructor Development Course. To graduate I had to pick a subject, write a tutorial and actually teach the class. I chose Police Bicycle Patrol.

But what angle to use? I pondered and pondered. Then it hit me. My nickname.

See, as some of you know, I'm a recovering meathead. A powerlifter. A guy who specializes in picking up and putting down heavy things. Never world class, I can say with all due modesty that I was pretty good at it. At my largest I was about 270 pounds (239ish at the moment). A badly blown Achilles tendon, a second shoulder surgery, a motorcycle crash wrecked hip and a host of chronic aches and pains convinced me that at 50, it was time to find another athletic outlet (hence my move into pedal powered transport). All this to tell you that my nickname was/still is, I swear, Bubba. 

So, Bubba the Bike Cop was born.

What's Wrong with this picture?

The class was on how to start a bicycle patrol, starting with uniform and equipment. I led the class on what a bike cop needs to do the job. I presented Bubba as What Not To Do and as a starting point for our theoretical bicycle patrolman. Yes, that is yours truly. I'm still carrying too much on top and, yeah, that's what happens to ones legs when one catastrophically rips an Achilles tendon. I'm working on it. Really.

Much to my surprise and delight, the class was a hit. They really got into equipping Bubba and pointing out what a goober he was. Really, really got into it. I'm still trying to live it down. I passed the class and actually got a good score on my presentation so I guess the humiliation was worth it. I got an A and I exposed others (some of whom are or will be chief officers) to the real benefits of the bike. Another win for bicycling!

But it is clear to me now that I will be Bubba among my circle of peers for the rest of my career and probably my life.

Eh, I can live with that.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sweet Baby Schwinn

The bike is done and I'm back on my meds again. The wife will be so happy.

When last we left our project it was basically done but not yet together. Let's now join Insane Crazy Welder Boy, already in progress.

Ok. Assembly day.
Here's the crank in place. It went in easy as pie with only a little grease and even less swearing. It's off the donor and yeah, it's a single gear. It's not rusty and simplifies the build considerably because I don't have to come up with a working front derailleur. That's a good thing because I seem to be short exactly 1 front derailleur. Also a close up of the repair, sanded and painted.

I gathered all the brake pieces I had and put them in a 1 big pile. Then I seperated them into 2 smaller piles; Parts I recognize and parts that are obviously from a crashed UFO. I took the parts I recognized and managed to make 2 brake systems. I even managed to use the old, hard rubber pads. If you put them on the grinder and go past the outer hardness there is a whole new layer of nice rubber goodness underneath. And joy of joys, they're all schwinn.                                                                                                   


Here's those bars I cobbled together with levers and some grips I had laying around. Doesn't saying I have stuff 'laying around' sound a little too convenient? It's all true. I swear.  The levers went on with only a little prying and crying. And some hammering. Again.                                     

Here it is with bars, crank, pedals and seat.

It seemed to be missing something....

I kept the original Schwinn World badge from the original bike. I carefully polished it but otherwise left it alone. It's things like this that make me love this bike.                                                                             

A couple of very, very small screws in hands better suited to holding heated metal make for a comedy of dropped things and colorful language. Even the dogs left in disgust.                                                                                                   

Ah. Schwinney goodness!

Rear wheel with derailleur and chain. The chain is from the donor. I got to use my new tool, the chain breaker and a masterlink that kinda, sorta works. I think the anvil and a ball peen hammer are on the upgrade list. Notice the black painted hub shield. Dewd, it like rocks and stuff. Totally.    

Cables all hooked up and a thumb shifter guessed it, the donor. I hate that frame but I shamelessly stole its parts.                                                                                                                                          

And here it is in all it's beautiful blue Schwinn glory. The brakes brake, derailleur derails, pedals pedal and crank...uh, cranks. The frame is solid and the wheels spin easy if not exactly up to Gary Fisher trueness specs. The rust is all gone and the paint is moderately attractive. It has a seat and a very unique handlebar.                                                                           

Is it road worthy? Is it safe? Beats me. I'm certainly not going to go first. I enlisted a lovely and far too trusting test pilot. "Hey honey, can you come here for a second?"                                                       

Nothing broke. Everything worked and a good time was had by all. In fact, Lu immediately put her claim on it and declared it was just the thing for casual rides with her mom. Now that's misplaced confidence!            
Lu's Tribute Collage                                                                                                               
 Before. Ewww.

                                                                                   After. Mmmm.
All attempted humor aside, I'm very proud of the work I did on this project. I took a pile of rust and bentness that was headed for the recycle (heh heh) bin, another donor someone also left in a field to rot like the Schwinn, 31 dollars in parts and about 16 hours of actual work time and got a pretty neat bicycle.
It's not a trainer or racer. You'll never see someone doing a century on it. It'll never see a hill higher than what the local streets can offer. It's got ancient brakes, 27 inch tires and a handlebar that's a phrenologists dream. It's a 5 speed instead of 10. It has an ungainly lump in the frame that causes people to ask "what the heck is that for?"
But everything works and she rides just fine.
In my eyes she's beautiful. Maybe because in a very real sense, I created her. I took some parts and an idea and made something of value. Maybe only valuable to me and the missus but valued all the same. To me this is way more than just a Schwinn World Traveler with some different and unusual parts and repairs.
Oh, the Schwinn is still in there, don't doubt it for a second. In fact I think she's aware of her new lease on life. Her escape from the oblivion of being melted down to provide steel for some hipster doofus' nose bolt. I think she's proud of her new clothes and her new purpose. I think she's pleased.
I know I am.
To Doohickie, the motivation and inspiration for this project I say, Thank You my friend. I've never had so much fun. The hours I spent totally engrossed in her and completely unaware of job, personal problems, world problems, stresses or even my surroundings were some of the most pleasant I've spent in years. So much so that I'm looking for another challenge.
To all my friends who have encouraged me and commented on my progress, thank you again. I hope you are happy with the results.
It has been an absolute ball and I have no idea what's next.
Now if you'll excuse me, I hear Sweet Baby Schwinn calling my name.
I'm think I'm going for a ride.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

No Welding This Time. Sigh.

We're getting closer. Actually, as you read this the bike is officially done. It's just gonna take at least 2 more posts to cover it all.

This is the official list of new parts I just had to buy. Two 27 inch tires, two 27 inch tubes, two rubber tube protectors (the guy at the bike shop called them spoke condoms. He's a funny guy) and a set of cables. The pedals pictured are off my wife's Gary Fisher but it turned out they wouldn't fit (wrong size threads) so I went with the set off the donor frame. I also stole her old seat.
Total? $30.00.

Remember the cruiser handlebars off the donor frame? Remember how I said I was a cheap bastard? You do? Good cause I decided to straighten them, cut them off and make a flat bar out of them.
I absolutely love power tools. The real reason I did this project was just to justify owning them. I heated them up with my trusty oxy/acetylene torch and bent (And hammered. Let's not forget the hammering) them more or less straight then cut em down to a more human size.

I got this. A little bumpy but they'll work just fine and look okay once I get the brakes and shifter mounted. I hope.
Of course I couldn't do this alone. I did have some expert help. They're taking a break here. Just before this shot they were all over that bike, slobbering on things and generally making themselves useful.
The frame needed some final finishing. I decided to smooth some rough edges with Fast Steel and a sander.
It's not fast and it's not steel but it is harder than bondo so...
Cut off a chunk.
Knead it to mix in the hardener.
And spread it on. You have about 15 minutes so you know, no hurry. BTW, fingers make great putty knives.

Time to sand. Woo Hoo, more power tools!

Frame's done. Time to paint. The missus had some very nice blue paint in the shed and there was plenty for the project so I....appropriated it. And hey! It's Rustoleum.

The fork. Please ignore that original yellow. The frame covers that up. I swear. I actually checked this time.
The frame. Does my ass really look like that? Maybe it's just the camera angle. Yeah, that's it.

All the parts together in one place. Can you feel the excitement? I was still certain I was going to be able to use those pedals. Without checking to be sure. Hey, everyone is wrong occasionally.
The wheels. I started out thinking I'd replace all the spokes. Yeah...not. Real budget buster. The funny bike guy said forget it. Just tighten them and let it go. So, new plan. Polish the rims and paint everything else.

This time I got some real help. Isn't she cute? Thanks sweetie!

Painted the hubs but still not looking too good. Gonna have to go further. Words to send a sane man screaming. Luckily, I'm not sane.
Taping off the rims. Are we having fun yet?
Ready for painting. Hubs, spokes, gears. I painted everything.

And hey! It's a wheel. Whadda ya think?
I'm going to post the final assembly and test ride later this week but here's a teaser.
The frame with the newly painted and tire shod wheels mounted.
Is it looking like an actual bike?
Will it work and ride?
Is this all just an exercise in humiliation?
Tune in next week for the final installment of Insane Crazy Welder Boy and find out.