Wednesday, April 17, 2024

If anyone had ever told me... (a series)

If anyone had ever told me 20 years ago that I would end up living with and loving three adorable cats, I would never have believed them.

But here I am, with three little fur buddies, and I love them all, and wouldn't part with them.

How the heck did this happen? 

 Well, before I get to that, why would it have seemed so unlikely to me 20 years ago?

 First and foremost, while my family had two different dogs when I was a kid (a Beagle and a Brittany many years apart), we never had cats, and I honestly can't remember any friends who had cats either.  So, they were pretty much an unknown to me until my teen years, when my older sister Nancy had a couple of cats.  I spent a lot of time at her house, because her then-husband Phil and I had launched a kite making company, and I would go over and work on kites with him whenever I could.

The good news here is that I got to spend some time with her two cats.  The bad news is, that even by my sister's recollection, one of them was, well, let's politely say "unpredictable."  My most vivid memory of Maggie was the day she was calmly perched on a table in the kite workroom, and I was petting her and she happily enjoyed it... for a time.  Suddenly, for no apparent reason, she erupted and I found myself with an angry ball of fur running up one arm, over my head, and down the other side of me, claws fully extending and uttering sounds of fury.  I didn't realize it at the time, but apparently my sister's German Shepherd had just appeared, and Maggie hadn't met him and freaked out.  To me, it seemed utterly unprovoked, and I never realized the dog was part of it until just a few years ago.

So, for many, many years, I was at best indifferent to cats, and certainly never imagined having any in my home.  Now and then I'd encounter one, but never one that in any way changed my thinking about cats.  Until my brother moved back from California just before my last year of college, and I got to know his little Manx, Savannah.  At first, we didn't really have much to do with each other, but at one point, I don't recall exactly why, I ended up taking care of her while Stephen was away for a week or so.  During that time, she became much friendlier toward me (the cynic in me said it was because I was the can opener), and even started to sleep in my bed at night.  The biggest downside to that was that she seemed fond of sleeping on my head, which isn't really something I'd recommend.  Anyway, I credit Savannah with the first chink in my anti-cat armor.

Savannah, around 1983, on my desk.

Fast forward to the early 2000s, when I started dating a woman with a cat named Tomas.  Now, I don't think even his human would claim Tomas was the rocket scientist of the cat world, but he couldn't have been a sweeter little guy.  Again, I was called upon for cat care a few times, and he and I gradually became pals.  Once Annie and I decided to move in together, we started discussing finding a sidekick for Tomas.  This lead to finding the wonderful Tybalt in a shelter, who from the start was meant to be my cat.  That little fellow really opened my eyes and my heart to cats, and gave me 16 wonderful years before he died in 2021.  (You can read more about him here.)

Tybalt in 2020, at the age of 15 or so.

Now, that explains how I came to have A cat, but not three.  When Tybalt was middle aged, I was busy transitioning to owning a bicycle shop, and also spending a lot of time over in Maryland with a woman I was seeing at the time.  At some point, with Christy's urging, I started thinking about a buddy for Tybalt.  On a visit to a shelter, seeking parakeets (for Christy), we met a little tabby that had just been captured that Christmas Eve, and had been named Tiny Tim as a result.  When let out of his cage to meet us, he strutted around like he owned the place.  He quickly won my heart, and after a prolonged delay and drama due to his contracting a respiratory infection in the shelter, he was renamed Jinx and finally came home to join Tybalt in my apartment.

Jinx at 4, in his classic Krazy Kitty Mode, 2017.

Jinx at 5, in a more mellow moment, 2018.

The two of them seemed to get along fine, though Jinx was a bit more boisterous than Tybalt liked sometimes, and in particular he seemed to like harassing Tybalt at the litter box, which lead to some issues for a while.  Still, over time they seemed to co-exist very well, and while they didn't sleep together or play a lot, they would groom each other and hang out nearby.

I only learned just how attached they'd apparently grown when Tybalt died in 2021, and Jinx suddenly developed a "barbering" (over-grooming) habit.  I missed Tybalt tremendously, but Jinx was always there for a cuddle, and he and I grew closer. By a coincidence, one of my employees at the bike shop had a young black cat that wasn't fitting in well with their older cat, so it was suggested I take Zero on as a pal for Jinx.  So, as of autumn of 2021, Jinx and Zero had really hit it off and I'd settled back into a two cat household.

Zero in an improvised cat bed on my desk, 2022.

And then I took my annual trip to a cabin at a state park in Pennsylvania, just after Thanksgiving, 2022.  If you follow this blog, you'll know what happened next, as that was the one post I shared in early 2023.  Yep, I found a cat at the cabin, and not for the first time either.  The first time it was a sweet girl cat with a collar and tags that I reunited with her humans after a six month separation.  The second, in 2022, well, he had no tags, no chip, no known humans or backstory, so he came home with me.  I named him Chester Proudpaw, making my little family a feline trio.

Chester in December 2023, a year after he came home with me.

So now, with three cats in a one bedroom apartment, I think I am officially a "cat person", something I never would have imagined years ago.  And something I wouldn't trade for the world.  Each of my cats has been a truly unique personality, something I wouldn't have guessed from my early experiences with cats.  

Tybalt was utterly attached and devoted to me, happily curling up in my lap or next to me at every opportunity and rarely letting me out of sight if I was home.  But he was very shy and skittish around strangers, and took a long time to warm up to people.  When I had to be out of town and someone else took care of him, more often than not, they'd get barely a glimpse of him at best, and often the only evidence he was around was that the food would be eaten and the litter box used.

Jinx was a lot more independent, especially when young, and lap time with him always felt a bit like a "drive by" situation.  That being said, from the very start, that guy has always given the best cat hugs, where he'll wrap his front paws around my neck and just hold on.  As he's gotten older, and especially after Tybs died, he's settled down a lot and is much more inclined to linger with me.  And while his "barbering" appears to be a thing of the past, he still enjoys grooming me, licking my beard and rubbing his face all over it, as well as grooming the other cats.

Zero is still pretty young, around four now I guess so he's still a bit more in the "drive by" mode affection-wise.  But with time, he's definitely come around to me being his human and the other guys as his pack, and he loves having other cats to wrestle and chase around and play with.  He's also one of the best and enthusiastic "biscuit makers" of any cat I've met.  The intensity with which he stares at me while kneading me is pretty entertaining.

And then there's Chester.  He reminds me a LOT of Tybalt, in markings, size and personality.  Thanks to the nights in the cabin, and bringing him to safety, he's quite bonded to me.  There were also a couple of weeks where I spent nights sleeping in my bike shop with him, while waiting for him to be checked out and then neutered by the vet before bringing him home to meet the others.  The big difference between him and Tybalt though is that Chester is not really shy or skittish around others, and generally loves attention.  He now comes to the shop with me often, when we are in the slower season and we keep all the doors closed except for customers and bikes going in and out.  He doesn't show any signs of interest in getting out, but we are all very attentive when ever he's in the shop to prevent any mishaps.  He's also become a bit of a local celebrity, named "Mayor's Pet of the Month" in the town newsletter last spring, and featured in a community service award the shop received last year.

Bikes@Vienna's 2023 Carole Wolfand Community Service award, featuring Chester.

So, here I am in my early 60s, with three cats, and loving it.

Chester, Zero, and Jinx, aka the Gang of Three, January 2024.

Sunday, March 31, 2024


Rear wheel and derailleur of my Mondia, taken with a Pentax ME 35mm SLR.
 One of the reasons I named this blog Spokes of a Wheel is because I find life sometimes is like a spoked bicycle wheel (or more precisely, the typical tangentially spoked wheel, using wire spokes, that cross...but that's not important right now) where parts of our lives intersect, sometimes in unexpected ways.  This post is about one such situation.

In the spring of 2022, my friend Phil's father died, and in the process of dealing with the usual pile of belongings we all leave behind, he came across some old film photography equipment that was his parents'.  He also had several film cameras and lenses of his own that he knew he would never use again, so knowing my penchant for collecting "old, rare things" (he also declared that I fall into that category, and I can't deny it), he contacted me to see if I might be interested in any or all of it.

 I'd actually been doing some film photography on and off over the last 20 years or so, despite primarily shooting digital now, so this was intriguing news.  We met up, both so he could hand off the gear and so we could spend some time taking nature photographs together.  It was a few days before I got a chance to really look at what he'd given me, but it was quite the haul!  I'll probably save the details for another post, but suffice to say it was a significant number of film SLR bodies and lenses, along with other miscellaneous accessories.

Now here's where we come to an intersection of sorts. Another friend and I had reconnected via Facebook some years ago, so I knew he was an avid photographer, and had a fondness for film.  Faced with a pile of cameras, and knowing that realistically I wasn't going to use them all, I reached out to see if he might be interested in any of them, or at least looking at them.  So we arranged to meet for lunch, the first time we'd seen each other since the early 80s.  We had a great time catching up, and my friend Dave was very happy to take the hand-off a few bits of camera gear.

Since then, I've gotten more excited about film photography again, and Dave has been a huge help with advice, and even some hands on time showing me how to process b&w film.  I had been shown many years ago, once by my dad, and again by a high school friend, but it was good to get a refresher from someone who does it all the time.  And as my film gear collection has grown, Dave and I now have a recurring (if sporadic) "show and tell lunch" routine started that is great fun.  

 Now, there's certainly the chance that he and I would have connected in person eventually, but it was the gift of Phil's camera gear that put the pieces in place.  The funny part is, while we all grew up in the same town, and went to the same high school, Phil and Dave don't know each other at all.  But this intersection of the three lives has been a really wonderful new part of my life these last couple of years.


Monday, January 8, 2024

If anyone had ever told me... (first in a series)

... when I was in elementary school that I would one day end up in theatre, and even on stage, acting, I would have thought they were crazy.  For that matter, I'm pretty sure my family was shocked when they saw me on stage and later building a career in the performing arts.  My ultimate path took me off the stage and behind the scenes, but early on, I actually considered a career as an actor.

 This is the first of what I hope will be a short series of posts, all about aspects of my life that have turned out in ways I wouldn't have expected at an earlier time.  I'm using it as a tool to get my writing revved up again, as that's something I really want to do this year.  And while this blog has been sputtering for a while, it seems like it might be a good tool in my toolbox to get that going.

So, here goes...

How the heck did I end up on stage?

To start with, I should explain I was a VERY shy kid.  To this day, I'm pretty much the classic introvert, preferring my own company and MAYBE the company of a few select people, preferably no more than two or three at a time.   In elementary school, I was the sensitive kid, the kid who loved to read, didn't really do sports, and was quiet and shy, to the extent that one teacher seriously suggested my mom take me to see a child psychologist.  Thankfully, mom chose to ignore that, and other teachers and students saw aspects of me that helped bring me out of my shell a bit.  Still, I was definitely in the "quiet" category at the start of junior high.

Then one day I got a phone call from my best friend Peter, saying "the drama club is covering flats tomorrow, and I'm going to help, do you want to come?"  I had NO idea what any of that meant... I didn't even know there was such a thing as drama club at that point, let alone what "covering flats" was, but it was my best buddy asking, so I went.  I quickly learned what a flat was and a lot more about putting on a show, and found it fascinating and fun.

I was happily discovering the whole new world of the "backstage" side of theatre when somehow or other, I ended up auditioning for a part in a play.  I think the faculty advisor (oddly enough, a science teacher) talked me into trying out.  Much to my surprise, I ended up landing a pretty big role, as a detective in a murder mystery who turns out to have been the killer.  After that, I tried out again, for yet another "murder mystery" which was more of a farce, where yet again, I was the killer.  This time though, the victim was a mouse and my character did away with him with a mouse trap and piece of cheese.  Hey, it was junior high, we were NOT doing the classics by any means.

Now, how did a shy kid find the gumption to step onto a stage in front of an audience and not just utterly freeze in terror?  It's a funny thing, and I know a lot of actors over the years have said this, but if you succeed in getting yourself into the head of the character, and the reality of what is happening on stage, the audience loses its threatening nature, and you don't really worry about them.  And luckily, our drama club leader was very good at teaching us about being in character and other acting skills, for which I will always be grateful.  It really was a major step in my life, giving me confidence I never had before.

Starting high school, I discovered that not only was there a drama club, but a series of three drama classes you could take, and I took all three years.  Starting out with small roles, I worked my way into playing a few lead roles in both comedies and dramas over the three years of high school, including the hysterically funny "The Mouse that Roared" and the far-too-weighty-for-high-school-actors "The Heiress", in which I struggled to portray an overbearing father who was slowly but surely dying of consumption or something like that.  In the midst of all that, I also got a chance to branch out into community theatre, in the role of Prince John in The Lion in Winter.  This did a lot to improve my confidence, acting alongside adult actors with a lot more experience than I had.

All this time I had also continued my work back stage, primarily in the set construction side of things.  I wasn't ever really a "wood shop" kind of kid, and my dad wasn't one of those classic fathers who built things in the garage all the time.  Now I found myself wielding saws and hammers and learning an awful lot about how to make something realistic looking from wood, fabric, and paint.  I honestly found it as rewarding and fun as acting was, and in some ways a lot less stressful.

When it was time to pick a college, I focused on schools with good theatre programs, and thanks to an academic scholarship, I landed at Towson State University in the fall of 1979.  For the first year or so, I worked a double track of acting and technical theatre, and found both really fun and challenging.  Over time, however, I began to think about the reality of just how many people end up chasing a very small number of paid acting jobs, versus the number of people needed to do all the rest of the work.  I had already started slowly leaning toward the backstage side of things when the head of that program nudged me, telling me I really needed to decide which path I wanted, if I was going to succeed at either.

As much as I enjoyed acting, I knew I was good, but not exceptional, in a field where exceptional people often end up waiting tables to make ends meet.  I had also discovered I truly loved lighting design, and the art and science of technical direction was becoming more and more fascinating to me.  So I made my choice and through the end of college, I followed that path.

Graduation came, and I already had a job at a community college, running the backstage operations for visiting performance groups and helping out with the theatre department shows.  This was followed by enrolling in an MFA program in Technical Design and Production at the Yale School of Drama, where I really learned what it took to make a show happen from the backstage side of things.  It was an exhausting and exhaustive three years, leaving me with knowledge, memories and friendships I will always cherish.  If some people look back on high school as the "best" part of their lives, I would have to pick the three years in New Haven as, if not best, the most pivotal time of my life.

After grad school, I held a number of jobs as a technical director at both professional and academic institutions. I taught for about a dozen years, passing on  my knowledge and I hope my love of the work onto another generation.  I worked in tiny theatres, huge theatres, small state colleges, and prestigious private universities widely known for their theatre training programs. I helped mount so many shows I've long ago lost count, and there are a lot of them I look back proudly on.

On the other hand, the hours and generally lousy pay, coupled with the stress, ultimately got to me,  driving me out of the field, but that's a story for another day.

And it all started with a random, chance phone call from a friend.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

My new cat buddy - Chester!

Chester, napping in his heated cat bed at the shop.  He likes his new life!

Chester joined my household and the crew at BIKES@VIENNA just after Thanksgiving of 2022, and most days we're open, you'll find him here, at least until we get to the season where we keep the doors wide open.

So, how did the little guy come to me?  Well, that's an interesting story.  On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I drove up to Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania, to stay in one of their cabins.  It's become something of a regular thing for me, a nice escape during the slow season, with simple, comfortable cabins and very few people around.  Plus, the park is convenient to the Great Allegheny Passage trail, Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, the town of Ohiopyle, and lots of good hiking as well.

First sighting!
Monday morning I was sitting on the porch of my cabin, sipping some hot coffee, when I suddenly saw a small, grey shape hop up onto the picnic table at the next cabin.  At first I thought it might be a raccoon, but quickly figured out it was a small tabby cat!  There were no other people in that part of the campground, which is the "pet friendly" area, so I knew he didn't belong to a current camper. Eventually, he vanished around the far side of the other cabin. 

At the edge of my porch.
I soon decided I couldn't just ignore him, so I opened up a can of tuna and put it in a bowl and set it by the porch of the other cabin.  I returned to my cabin, and waited.  Sure enough, he eventually came out of hiding, and started eating, now and then stealing glances my way.  Over the next couple of days, I kept putting out tuna, and gradually moved it closer and closer to my cabin, and then onto my porch.  

Wednesday came, and it was a cold, wet morning, and no sign of my furry friend.  I waited until around noon, and then decided I'd get ready for a hike, as the weather was clearing.  Just as I was all packed up and ready to go, there he was, at the edge of my porch, eating the tuna.

Crossing the threshold.
The next two hours were all about refilling the dish, gradually moving it closer and closer to the open door of my cabin.  I stayed inside, sitting on the floor, watching him.  Ultimately, I brought it inside the cabin and waited.  He was cautious, but did eventually come in and eat, while I kept my distance.  Once he got to where he started to look around the cabin a bit, I quietly went to the door and closed it.

In the top bunk.
His first reaction was to run to each of the windows to look outside, then racing up to one of the top bunks, where he just lay down looking very unsure.  He stayed there a good long while, so I went to the park office to find out if they had any missing cat reports.

Now, at this point, I have to add an interesting twist to the story - exactly one year earlier, at the same park, in the same group of cabins, another cat appeared.  So this wasn't my first experience with luring a cat into a cabin with tuna.  That cat had a collar and tag, so I was able to reunite her with her family, who drove all the way up from Lynchburg, VA, the moment they got word their Brigita had been found.  She'd gone missing on a camping trip Memorial Day weekend, so the dear little girl had been out there for six months!  I was so glad to be able to reunite them.

Brigita at my cabin in 2021.

So, when I went to the park office, I explained that I was "the guy that found the cat last year" and we chatted briefly about Brigita.  I then told them I had yet another cat in my cabin, and they were understandably surprised and amused.  They checked for missing cat reports, and came up with nothing, so I asked if they knew where I could take this cat to get scanned for an ID chip.  Well, it turns out the park has a scanner, which they loaned me as I headed to a store to get cat food, a litter box, and litter.

When I got back to the cabin, he was tucked into a far corner, where I couldn't easily get to him, and meowed sadly now and then.  He came out for food, but then returned to his corner. Since I couldn't get him to come out of his hidey-hole, I finally went to bed after leaving some food out for him.

Around two am, I was woken by VERY loud meowing, and got up to find him by the front window, very agitated about something outside.  My best guess is a raccoon, but when I looked, I didn't see anything.  He seemed to calm down, and when I sat down on one of the bunks, he hopped into my lap!  Before long he was curled up purring, and eventually fell asleep.  I managed to slowly reposition myself to a position in which I could sleep, and we both fell sound asleep.

After that, he clearly decided I was okay, and hopped into my lap at every opportunity.  I was concerned he might try to get out, so I was very careful going in and out of the cabin.  As it turns out, whenever I went back in, he was comfortably curled up inside, and made it very clear he had no desire to be out in the cold again.

Hanging out on the cat tower at home.
When the time came to leave, I packed the little guy up in a carrier I'd bought the day before, and loaded him in the car.  There was some fussing and meowing for the first hour or so, but he ultimately settled down comfortably for the rest of the ride.  After a check up at the vet, a basically clean bill of health, neutering, and a chip implanted, we got him settled into the shop.  After a lot of thought and input from others, I finally settled on the name Chester Proudpaw, a play on a character name from the old radio version of Gunsmoke.  And his nickname Chessie is reminiscent of the mascot for the C&O Railroad many years ago, a tabby by that name.   Over time, I introduced him to my other two cats, Jinx and Zero, and they all get along great now.

Minding the front counter at work.

So now Chester commutes with me, and is very mellow about the whole thing.  Unlike my other two cats, he does not fuss about getting into the carrier, and seems to genuinely like being at the shop during the day.  He and my other cats play and groom each other at home, and Chester gets lots of attention at the store.

Next time you're in the area, why not come by the shop and say hi?  He's a very sweet little boy, and generally very friendly with strangers.  It might take a minute or two, but he generally warms up quickly.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

My "new" 1980s Vitus 979


Vitus 979 as purchased.

Some of you who have been following me for a long time or know me, either in person or through the internet cycling world, might be looking at this and thinking "Wait a minute, isn't that ALUMINUM?!?!?!?  I thought you were a steel frame fan!"

 Well, both are true.  The vast majority of bikes I have owned and ridden have been steel framed.  Many years ago I owned a mid-80s Cannondale road bike, but found it very responsive to hard pedaling, but also really stiff and harsh on anything but the smoothest surfaces.  Granted, it was an early Cannondale, back when they were still figuring out how best to create good riding frames with oversized, welded aluminum tubing.

A contemporary of the early Cannondales was the Vitus series of aluminum frames, but they were built in an entirely different manner.  Using tubing of the same outside diameters typically used in steel frames, Vitus chose to use cast aluminum fittings and adhesive to join the tubes together.  This resulted in a very light frame that had a lot more "give" than the Cannondales had, yielding a more supple and comfortable ride.


At least, that's what I've read and heard.  I've actually never ridden a Vitus, even now after buying one.  I've almost never bought a bike without at least a short test ride, but the tires on this bike were so rotted out there was no way to give it a try.  But the price was right, and I have wanted to try one out for a long, long time, so I figured it was worth the gamble.  If what I've heard about the bikes is true, I'm pretty sure I'm going to like it, and it will be different enough from my other bikes to be worth adding to my collection.  Worst case scenario, after I fix it up and get it rolling, if I don't like it I'm pretty sure I can make my money back selling it.

So, what are the details of the bike?  I'm not sure what year it was built, as the information I've found about serial numbers is a bit confusing.  I THINK it was most likely built in September of 1984, which would make it a 1985 model year frame.  The components, on the other hand, seem to date from 1986, so either the frame was sold through a bike shop and built up to a customer's specs some time later, or for some reason it sat around the Vitus factory for a year before being built up.  If I were to guess, the former seems more likely.  I've got another bike, my Mercian (see "Beautiful British Bicycle") the frame for which was built in 1977 and shipped from the UK factory to a shop in California, where it was eventually sold with a group of components dated 1981.

600 cranks w/Biopace rings
The drivetrain and brakes are all from the Shimano 600 SIS group from 1986.  This was the first generation of the 600 group to have indexed ("click") shifting, with six sprockets in back and two chainrings in front.  Speaking of chainrings, this was the age of Biopace, an oval chainring configuration that was claimed to improve power transfer through the rotation of the crank.  It's an idea that has come and gone from the bike industry a number of times, but it never seems to catch on for very long.  I might keep it on the bike to start with, just to give it a serious try.  I've done short test rides on bikes with Biopace over the years, but never long enough to really get a good feel for it.  I might like it, or I might not, but it's worth trying.

600 rear brake.

The wheels are Shimano 600 hubs laced to Mavic GP4 dark anodized rims for "sewup" (also called tubular) tires.  The GP4 was probably one of, if not the most popular such rim in the 80s.  Strong and light, it worked well for training and some levels of actual competition.  As mentioned in other posts, this type of tire is a bit trickier to mount and deal with, as they are glued to the rims.  I have a couple of other bikes that currently have sewup wheels on them, and for now at least, I'm going to keep these wheels the way they are, but with a new set of tires.  The bike came with Panaracer Practice tires, but I could literally put my finger through large gashes in the sidewalls see the back side of the base tape.  At this point I'm looking at putting some Vittoria Rally tires on the bike, which are pretty basic but good tires.

In addition, the handlebars and stem are Nitto, a brand I really like, so I'll be keeping those.  They had "aero" style bars bolted on, but I'm taking those off, as they really aren't appropriate for the riding I like to do, and frankly look ugly to me.  Pedals are and old set of Speedplay Zeros, which I will swap out for something compatible with Shimano SPD cleats, since that's the "clipless" pedal system I use.  Finally, the saddle is some old, somewhat worn suede-over-plastic model that will be replaced most likely with a Brooks saddle of some kind.

You can learn more about Vitus 979 bikes here:

Light & Legendary: Vitus 979

 And my Flickr album is here:

1985? Vitus 979

Sunday, November 20, 2022

1963 Witcomb update

 Well, it's slow going, as I don't have a huge amount of spare time, but I'm chipping away at cleaning up and overhauling that Witcomb track bike I shared a few weeks ago.  It's pretty remarkable how well it's cleaning up.  It seems there was just a fine layer of filth over a bike in otherwise great shape.

I stripped all the parts off the frame, and gave it a good washing, first with diluted Dawn dish soap.  For the more stubborn bits of grunge, I used Simple Green, and in a few spots, a bit of denatured alcohol.  I had to be very sparing with the latter, or it would take up paint.  For the chromed parts of the rear triangle and front fork, I used Quick Glo, which works really well for cleaning up chrome and making it shine.  You can see the results below.



I've also cleaned up most of the components, and have unlaced the wheels, since I won't be using the original sewup rims.  The front rim had a nasty dent in it, so it had to be replaced for sure, and since I was going to have to re-lace at least once wheel, I figured I'd swap out to clincher rims.  Clincher tires are just easier to deal with, and less expensive too.





One odd thing I discovered is the bar tape was originally blue, and appears to have been two different shades of blue.  I never would have guessed this from what it looked like on the bike, but as I stripped it off the original colors were revealed.

There were a few paint chips, and rather than try to find a good match, I decided to just cover the bare steel with clear nail polish.  I'll be waxing the frame with Meguiar's carnauba wax, and then the next step is to start putting it all back together again.  I need to lace up the wheels of course, using the original hubs, new spokes, and a set of Mavic MA-2 rims a friend is sending me.  One oddity is that the bike has 32 spokes in the front, 36 in the rear.  Most bikes of this era had the same number of spokes in both wheels, but the British did things a bit differently sometimes.  It does make sense, as the rear wheel sees more stress than the front.

Stay tuned for more updates as things progress.

Photo album, with new additions:

1963 Witcomb Track Bike

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

A teaser...

 ... of a post to come.

Vitus 979, on the roof of my VW.

Vitus 979, on the roof of my VW.

Just picked this up today, and I'm looking forward to fixing it up and getting it rolling.  Something different for me - a bonded (aka glued) Vitus 979 from the 80s!  

I've been curious about these since they were first introduced in the late 70s, and ridden by a number of pros, probably most notably Sean Kelly of Ireland.  This one showed up locally on Facebook, at a price that seemed reasonable, in a size that will fit me.  The tires (yet another bike with sewups!) are completely shot, so I couldn't take it for a test ride, but I've heard enough about these that I figured it was worth the risk.

Stay tuned for more news on the bike as I get a chance to start working on it, and then riding it!

Light & Legendary: Vitus 979