Archive for January 6th, 2006

It Must Be Love

Friday, January 6th, 2006

In October of 2004, Beau Hunk and I were getting ready to go on the bike club’s annual trek around San Francisco. It starts with a ride on BART (the Bay Area Rapid Transit train) that would take us to the Embarcadero in San Francisco. From there we would ride along the Embarcadero, past Fisherman’s Wharf, past Chrissy Field to the Golden Gate Bridge. After crossing the bridge, we would ride into Sausalito and Tiburon, where we would have lunch. We could then either take the ferry from Tiburon back to the City, ride to Sausalito and take the ferry back, or we could retrace our steps back over the Golden Gate Bridge and go home that way.

This was not a hard-core ride. It had more to do with food and social skills than biking. It involved a lot of crowded sidewalks, rough paved trails, and streets that contained trolley tracks. We had long ago decided that this was a ride for the “townies”. Townie bikes are ones that are born for goofing off or the utility of riding around town. You sit upright, don’t get in a hurry, and the configuration is all about hauling groceries and not having to walk around the store in Spandex and funny shoes.

Beau Hunk had built me a townie out of an old moutain bike frame and some second-hand parts. It was a nice bike, but since some of the components were bought on the cheap, it wasn’t a functionally great bike. There was also an issue with the way the back wheel fit into the frame, making it impossible for me to get the wheel off the frame, should I have a flat. Beau Hunk could get it off, but I couldn’t. That pretty much necessitated I ride this bike only in his presence. Not a big deal, but it did provide a certain limitation.

As we got ready for this ride to San Francisco in October of 2004, Beau Hunk annouced that he wanted me to have his townie. His beloved Ritchey townie. He loved that bike. He had had that frame for almost 20 years – first as a mountain bike, then in the last few years, as his townie. He had built it into a lovely townie, and he was justifiably proud of it. And now he was giving it to me. He did stipulate that the gift was “in comtemplation of marriage”, meaning if I didn’t marry him, I had to give the bike back. (Law students are so romantic.) We then referred to it as my engagement bike. I didn’t get a ring until seven months later!

The Ritchey is such a fun and comfortable bike, and I love riding it. It has a nice, big, comfy Brooks saddle that I can ride in my jeans without mourning the loss of my womanhood. The handlebars are Nitto Dove bars, with wine corks as bar end plugs. It has fenders with mudflaps to protect against the dreaded ButtRiver that can happen when riding in wet conditions. The tires are wide like mountain bike tires, but with a only a very slight tread so it can be taken into gravel or packed dirt and still rides comfortably on pavement. It is a really lovely bike and comfortable as hell.

I bring all this up now because yesterday Beau Hunk called me outside to see something. He showed me his beloved Kogswell. The Kogs is a fully lugged steel frame, similar to a Rivendell Rambouillet. Beau Hunk built this last year to use as a touring bike. I looked at it and said yes, it is a lovely bike. That’s when he told me it was mine.

Click on an image to see a larger version.
 
The Ritchey The Kogs

Beau Hunk decided I needed a bike to bridge the gap between my go-fast road bike and my townie, and that the Kogs would be perfect. (Lucky for me, we both use the same size frame!) The Kogs’ tires are on the wide end of road tires (28cm), with a little tread. The bars are Nitto Noodle, wrapped with natural cork, the tape ends wrapped with twine instead of sticky tape, and sealed with shellac. It has classic bar end shifters, with the standard roadie brakes. But it also has an additional set of bar top brake levers that mount on the flat part of the road bars so you can sit up, look around, and still stop in an instant. By the way, the tennis ball case in the rear water bottle holder is to hold extra gear like long gloves, arm warmers, a vest, etc. It fits perfectly into the bottle holder and works like a charm.

I took the Kogs for my first ride today. We only took a short ride up the trail to the grocery store – about four miles – but it was a great ride. I’ve only ridden this trail on my townie up until now, and I realized that I missed going fast. I was clipping along quite nicely on the Kogs.

Beau Hunk built these bikes himself, installing all the parts and components. He spent hours picking just the right components – mixing what we had on hand with new parts to achieve just the right blend of aesthetics and functionality. The bikes are built for a purpose, and each is perfectly suited to it’s niche. And they look pretty damned slick too. I know how Beau Hunk feels about his bikes, and trust me, for him to give these beloved beauties to me, it means something.

Because in our house, nothing says love like a bike.