Friday, June 17, 2011

I'm Barely Treading Water Here

Well, a good friend of mine, Z The-12lb-Kid, told me that the key to maintaining a blog is keeping up with it consistently, and I seem to have strayed from his advice. It's been a full two weeks since Rigid Bikes has issued any updates, and all we have to show for it are some bags under the eyes, and some bulging bags of recyclables. Anyway, let's get straight into the bicycle relations and talk a little about teaching the little ones how to ride. By this time I suspect most folks have seen this:

Jackson Run Bike to kindergarten. on

Now, clearly this little sharp shooter has spent some serious time on the kick bike; but I want to use this as an example of how much easier it is to teach children to ride using a bicycle with no pedals. Balance and steering are the most necessary and useful skills when learning to ride a bicycle. Finding a method of teaching balance but minimizing the chances of crashing can be difficult. One method is to use training wheels. The thing about training wheels is that they are only marginally successful toward developing balance and they actually help to develop skills that are not useful on a bicycle at all: leaning all the way over to initiate a turn, and the ability to ride extremely slowly (or not move at all). The kick bikes, on the other hand, help to develop the exact skills that are useful for riding bicycles and, if you are willing to invest just a little time, they can be inexpensive as well. Here is a picture of one of rides I've set up for children in the 2-4 age group. I have preformed this operation for four 12" bicycles and each of those have been passed on to other children and they have all worked out pretty well. Also anytime the "wee one" starts asking about pedals, after having mastered the balance thing, it is easy to just re-install the chainwheel and one piece crank to make a fully operational bi-cycle. 

Step one is to acquire a 12" wheel children's bicycle. This is fairly easy if you live in a largish city, because practically all largish cities have some type of recycled-bicycle co-op type of operation. The one in PGH is called Freeride, it's run by volunteers, and there is a link in the sidebar because they deserve applause for what they do. For those who do not live in a big city, maybe you can put it on the to-do list for your next city visit, or, you know, just move. Step two is to remove the entire drive train, and then file or cut off any odd bits that look like they might scrape the tender-skinned little rugrats who will be riding it. The rear sprocket on a coaster brake hub is not all that easy to remove, so I just take a section of chain and wrap around the sprocket completely so that there are no sharp teeth that might snag shoelaces or licorice whips or whatever. Now, place the child on the bicycle and let her figure it out.  She will be racing around, on any flat ground, paddling her feet and looking like Fred Flintstone within a day's time. Seriously.

Do you enjoy poorly framed and out of focus photos of bicycles? Then you're gonna love what's coming next. Every once in a great while I break out a rag and a hose and wash off my cyclely styled conveyances. I have been asked to be a bit more personal on the Rigid Bicycles blog, and because the general discourse of this particular online bathroom stall wall is dedicated to bicycles, then perhaps I should post some photos of my own.
First up is the daily driver, my only geared cycle at the moment, an old Trek touring rig. With freezing rain and slush, and heavy applications of road salt, the winters in Pennsylvania can be destructive to things made from steel; amazingly, this thing takes barrel full of abuse and never complains.
Next up is my mountainish cycle, which is my favorite ride, my old Specialized frame paired with a 25 year old O.G. Bontrager Switchblade fork. I don't have any other mountain bike, so this thing is what takes me on all of my off road adventures. I love it.  
An old Schwinn fixed wheel convert:
This Voodoo cross bike is a lot like the movie Beastmaster, although not for the reasons that you might be thinking, like that maybe it can tame wild animals; but because the component stars of this cycle, the XTR cantilevers and cranks, remind one of Marc Singer and Tanya Roberts because they were all very pretty and somewhat in-style back in the 80's.  

I am still hanging on to the old school XTR cantilevers, even though though my ace hermano Pedro graciously gifted me some new-fangled, generic, TRP knock offs.  For the 13 other people out there who might be interested in cantilever setup and technology maybe I will put together a post dedicated to the canti-life style, but it the meantime, know this: salmon colored Kool Stops are the "cat's ass" (which I'm pretty sure is a good thing).

What about BMX types of bicycles you ask? Well we got those type of conveyances too.
Here is the Rigid Bikes Director of Security, hanging out with the BMX family rides, looking fairly blasé:

So, whether you are kicking off to kindergarten or kicking off the start of the weekend, I hope this gibberish finds you in good health with a cooler full of cold ones.

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