The following tale was written by guest contributor, Mr. B. Watch for more great stories from him in the future.
Many years ago my nephew gave me an old chrome , probably mid 70’s, Fuji road bike. I kept it in the collection and, as with these older road bikes, they could be fitted with much larger tires than stock effectively turning them into cyclocross bikes, or a real decent city bike that could be hammered pretty good and take it. I cleaned it, put wider bars on and taped them up, new tires, seat, and cables. Meanwhile our son had grown from small to tall, in inches at least 4 higher than me, and had his eye on it.
Forward ahead to University years and our son needed transportation and thought the Fuji to be his choice of ride. I had no issue with this as he had worked hard to save for his education. He loved this bike and rode it everywhere. He took it on the train to a concert one night in a city about 90 km away , and I freaked because I thought for sure it would be gone. But no he hid it, locked it, and it came home. He rode it to his co-op work programs and to see his grandmother in a nearby town along with many places he just had to get to.
Then in November of his third year he went to a daytime event he was participating in with the university. He had locked the bike up along with many others that were on the university grounds. When he returned it was gone. He was heartbroken, and to be honest so was I. A stolen bike is just one of those things that hits deep. This one was his sidekick for 3.5 years of university. I drove around the area for the next week looking up and down streets hoping that it was just a dumb prank but it was clearly gone.
November and December came and went. The bike was still on our minds but it was pretty well a done deal, this bike was gone. Along came early January, it was -20 degrees Celsius a Friday night. Our son called and his exact words were “You won’t believe what I’m standing beside right now”. My answer was “Your bike?”. It was now in the downtown core of the city he was living in frozen in ice 2 cm deep. However, it looked (so he thought) as though it had not been all that abused. It was locked and he couldn’t get it free. The local law enforcement wouldn’t help, even though he had the serial number, very disappointing. After a back and forth and his freezing he was told to go home and try and get some sleep.
Over the weekend I was trying to figure out what to do. Come Monday morning I decided to go down and have a look. I took a battery operated grinder with me and all the bike documentation, and old photos that matched the bike, even in it’s state of rust. The bar tape, bottle cage, and tires were still the same, plus I had the serial number.
Once downtown, and seriously cold, I found the bike, had a look at it, and decided it was coming home with me. I parked my truck, got out the grinder, and just as if I owned it (which I did) cut the lock off in broad daylight and took it back to be restored and returned to its REAL owner, our son. Within 10 minutes maybe less the bike was in the back of my truck and on its way back home where it belonged. Saved from most likely being one of those bikes that everyone sees in a downtown core shackled to a post with no wheels, seat, handlebars twisted and everything else just broken. Its next stop would have been the dump if the by-law guys ever had the opportunity to cut it free.
Now that its home, I got a good look at this poor beast. It almost seemed too be back with friends and it needed to be fed and watered, as it was clearly neglected. The chrome frame, now a rust frame, in fact rust everywhere. But the bones were still very good. Nothing bent or damaged mechanically.
It was now a complete three week, after work tear down and rebuild project. Once I saw that the chrome could be (almost) brought back to its pre-stolen luster I was inspired.
I could have laid tons more photos out, but the derailleurs front and back were packed with corrosion. However, the frame and various parts, even the sprockets, all were polished back to life. The bottom bracket and headset were a bit hard to release but those, along with the freewheel, were all removed and rehabbed and as can be seen below. The finished product with new tape, chain, outer and inner cables, waxed, and lots of TLC is ours/his again. A success story that rarely happens.
No matter how well you protect things, if someone wants them without your permission, it will happen. When you park the bike, shift the bike once stopped or removed the chain from the front sprocket. If a would be CRIMINAL tries to get away fast they won’t, as the gears will clunk and bang throwing the steeler off his game and with no front chain, he/she spins while you come out of “that store” and politely ask if they need any help (with their sore nose). Better yet don’t resort to physical action because the thief usually comes out on top by charging you for protecting your property, another sad fact of life.
Try to carry a good lock, and use it.
Words and photos by Mr.B.
Made the trip up to The Pines for the first time this year for the WCC Open House and Demo Day. Lots of bike for test riding available from Giant, Specialized, Norco, Kona, and a spread of bikes from the guys at Outspokin Cycles and Pedal Power.
Two bikes that really caught my eye were the Specialized Fatboy and the new Specialized Fuse 650b+ bike. I took the Fatboy out for a ride lap of the Red/Green trail and was impressed. This is a fatbike that rides more like a 29er, nice and fast. Makes my Nash feel like an overloaded lumber wagon. Very light weight too, could be a 4 season bike easily. This will be a bike on my radar in the future. Specialized rep says they are coming out with even more model of the Fatboy next year. The new Fuse 650b+ (27.5x3" tires) looked awesome but was not available for test rides, more of a "for your eyes only" kind of showing. Looks promising.
I also spent some time at the Outspokin Cycles display and convinced the owner Russ to let me take his full suspension Salsa Bucksaw fat bike for a quick spin. Wow! Unreal ride, it just eats everything you can point it at. I was rolling over rock gardens with ease and catching air on several occasions. Super light weight too, it was lighter than my 29er skinny bike. Heck, its even lighter than my CX bike.
All in all it was a great day. I managed to get in 2 laps of the Red loop, with a handful of black trails thrown in. I also did a number of green laps on the demo bikes. A good time. I even got to catch up with a few people I have not seen in years while out there. Thanks for the great time WCC!
Cycle touring had always seemed interesting to me when I was a younger lad exploring the woods by bike. i was sure there would be alot to see on the road as well. In June 2011 I embarked on my first little tour, three days around Norfolk and Brant County. It was a fun time and I learned alot. Having a young family means that I have not had a chance to tour since but will be able to start again in their teenage years.
Read about my first bicycle tour here:
The Norfolk - Brant Historical Plaque Tour
What a fantastic weekend it turned out to be. The forecast of thunderstorms never did develop and things have been warm and sunny for the most part. I managed to get two early morning rides in on Sunday and Monday. Both times I was on the trail by 6am for a nice sunrise ride all with the trails all to myself.
Sunday was Turkey Point, trails are in excellent shape as per usual thanks to the TPMBC. Its been a dry spring and some sections are getting a little loose and sandy, we could use a rain to be honest. I did a nice loop of the park trails, over to the West Side, back along the Ridge Trails, rode the members only section (get your TPMBC membership to enjoy) and back through the park. A fantastic 2.5 hour ride.
Monday was a short road trip to Brantford for the Hardy Rd Trails. Starting from Powerline Rd and working my way along the Grand to Hardy Rd. The trails were riding nicely, although its getting a little overgrown now that May is in full force. The trail is an April, then October - December kinda place. Very overgrown in the summer months. Riding the floodplains of the Grand is great, lots a plants and wildlife, and the trail snakes along the lowlands where it is nice and cool. Being the first person on the trail and being overgrown meant that I was the unofficial spiderweb clearer for the day. I was pretty well covered in webs and spiders by then end of the ride. I'll be back for some more Hardy Rd once October comes around.
Nice after work ride on Monday. Rode the West Side trails from Eco, not another soul out there. West is riding great right now, no bugs but I predict they will be biting in the next couple of weeks. West Side becomes unrideable in the summer months from blackflies / mosquitoes. Worked my way to the East Side and caught East Ridge to Rum Runner, then Big Mike. Thought about a loop in the park but decided to cut it shorter with Saudwinder to The 226, out Planet of the Apes, and back to the West Side. I didn't have much time and I was missing the wife and kids after a hard day of work. I really need to work on my self-timer shots.
When it comes to bicycles I always love shiney new parts. What better way to please your inner crow than to take that ugly old beat up aluminum frame and give it a new lease on life? With a bit of chemicals and alot of elbow grease you can get the poor old sad looking sap back to a stallion-esque sexiness with a mirror-like shine. I've done a few of these over the last decade and will attempt to walk you through it.
Please Note: Polished Aluminum and Ball Burnished are two different things. Polished aluminum is polished, obviously. Ball Burnished is a process that is basically a frame secured in a giant dryer drum with lots of brass ball bearings that impact and compact the outer part of the aluminum and give it shine.
What you need:
Ok. You have all your gear. Lets start.
First off, hang your frame in the garage, cover the floor under it with a sheet of cardboard. Put on your gloves and glasses, pour some paint stripper into a dish and start applying it liberally with a paint brush. After covering it the paint will blister. Let the stripper do its magic for about 20 minutes then brush it off with the steel brush. Repeat this step a few times if needed.
Now most of the paint is off and you have a hell of a mess. Use the steel wool to get into the crevices and clean out all the paint. It has to be 100% gone.
Once the paint is gone, grab your rag and wipe the frame down good. Grab more rags and clean the shop floor.
Now get your aluminum polish and go at it. Expect to do this for a couple of hours doing a bunch of coats of polish, wiping the frame clean between coats.
Now you're getting somewhere. Don't stop. More polish. Your fingers should be stained black by now.
See the surface scratches? Steel wool with coarse, then medium, then fine. Now polish it again, all over. Did I mention earlier that there would be alot of polishing?
Once you finish your last coat of polish, use some Neverdull wadding and treat the entire frame. Now take a fresh clean rag and wipe the entire frame down, it will brighten up when you do it. You may have to go through a few rags on this step.
Keep at it and you will end up with something GORGEOUS! Much better than any paint job.
Congrats, its as easy as that. You will need to keep it polished once a month so its does not oxidate (dull out). Don't use clear coat, it won't stick to the polish and it will show ALL the scratches, leave the frame bare. In my opinion, a polished aluminum frame is the best looking aluminum frame you can get.
Check out the gallery below for some of my polished aluminum projects.
Had a great weekend of riding, weather was A1. Saturday was a mountain bike ride at Turkey Point. I rode all the park trails on the East Side, then headed over to the West Side for a nice zip along West Ridge and around Eco. Trails are so dry its getting dusty out there. May is shaping up to be a better month for me than April was, hopefully my luck keeps on flowing.
Sunday was a nice one down the Lynn Valley Trail to Port Dover with Little Bric in tow and Mr. B joining us for the ride down. Little Bric had a blast and really enjoyed seeing the fish and ducks at the pier in Dover, he especially liked the Ninja Turtle action figure that Mr.B brought him. The Lynn was busy, lots of foot and bike traffic in both directions. Little Bric and I need to get out on a few more of these rides with Mr.B. Good times had by all.
The Bric...._ mountain biker, road rider, heavyweight gear abuser. Built like a brick sh*thouse. No bike is safe.