Dave Moulton

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Monday
Jan212019

Update on Fast Eddie Williams' track bike

Ever since the untimely passing in August 2016, of New York’s Legendary Bike Messenger, Fast Eddie Williams, I had wondered what had happened to his bike. Not having direct contact with Eddie’s family, I had no way of knowing.

So imagine my delight when David Perry, one of Eddie’s mechanics since the late 1990s, emailed me to say the bike was in his keeping, being safely held until Eddie’s immediate family decided what to do with it.

Last fall, a curator for the Museum of the City of New York came by inquiring about objects to loan for an upcoming exhibition: “Cycling in the City—A 200-Year History,” from March 14 to October 6, 2019. The museum has chosen to exhibit Eddie’s bike.

Since David Perry is not the bike’s owner, he had to get written approval from Eddie’s family to loan the bike to the museum. That happened this weekend, and David was kind enough to pass the news on to me.

I hope this bike will remain safe in the future, never refinished but left as is, a working bike. Possibly find a permanent museum home, where all can see it as a memorial to Fast Eddie.

 

Click here, then scroll down to read previous articles about “Fast Eddie”

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Monday
Jan142019

They called me Don Dave

When I left my bicycle business in 1993 I went to work for a company that manufactured bowling equipment. The company was located in the City of Orange just south of Los Angeles in Southern California. The workforce of about 100 was almost entirely Mexican.

The following year the owner of the company decided to move the business to Springfield, Oregon. The State of Oregon, along with the City of Springfield gave him large tax breaks, low rent, and other incentives to move there because of Oregon’s high unemployment rate.

All employees were given the opportunity to move with the company but only about 15 of the original workforce including myself decided to move. When we arrived in Oregon we immediately started hiring. My position with the company was Welding Production Manager so I did some of the hiring. 

We were not necessarily looking for skilled workers, we were prepared to train people. We didn’t drug test anyone which may have been a big mistake, most of the people we hired it seemed had been unemployed for so long, they had lost any desire to work. One man I remember started work at 8:00 a.m. I showed him how to do a simple assembly job with a wrench. He worked until 10:00 a.m. when we took a break, he left and we never saw him again.

Another man I hired lived near me and I gave him a ride to work each day because he had no car. He quit after two weeks and stole a box of bronze bushes from the company worth several hundred dollars and sold it for ten dollars to a local scrap metal dealer. How do I know this? I found the bill of sale from the scrap dealer in my car some days later. As fast as we could hire these local workers, they quit. We didn’t fire them, they quit. We may be found two or three workers we could hang on to.

In desperation the owner contacted some of his original Mexican workers from Southern California and offered them a job. A few of them came and soon the word spread and others followed and by the end of that first year in Oregon our entire workforce was once again almost all Mexican. The company had really tried to give locals the jobs but had failed through no fault of our own.

I found these Mexican workers a joy to work with. You could take someone who had never welded in his life before, spend about half an hour showing him how, and by the end of the day he was welding with the speed and quality of someone who had been doing it for years. The Mexican has a work ethic like you wouldn’t believe having been taught to work hard from a very early age. In their own country they don’t work just to get by, they have to work hard in order to survive.

If one of their group was not pulling his weight for example the others would say to me, “Juan is lazy.” Not behind his back but to his face. Juan would become embarrassed and we would all have a laugh. He had been shamed into working harder by his fellow countrymen.

They called me “Don Dave,” in a somewhat lighthearted manner, but never-the-less a mark of respect they didn’t even extend to the owner of the company. Being an immigrant myself helped, but I believe I got that respect because I treated them with respect. I treated them as I treat everyone, as an equal, neither above me nor beneath me. I learned a few words in Spanish, enough to instruct them on their daily task. They made me look good with the company, because of the quality and quantity of work they produced.

Mexicans would not cross the border each day in their thousands if there were no jobs. People hire them not because the Mexican National is cheap labor, but because they work hard, do a good job and often an employer can’t find others to do the work they do.

 

This article was first posted in 2016. Immigration is a topic that is now even more current, not only in America, but in the UK too. It is one of the reasons for the mess known as Brexit. Often a thinly veiled form of racism. When the company was raided by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. (INS.) in 1997, only those of Hispanic appearance were  questioned and deported. I was not asked to show my Green Card. (Even though I have one.) Several white Mexicans of European appearance, and one black Mexican (Of African heritage.) were also not questioned, or deported.

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Monday
Jan072019

The significance of a decade ending in nine

I came to the United States in January 1979, exactly forty years ago. For me it was a life changing move, an act of truly starting over. It was sometime in the years that followed I realized there had been a significant, often life changing event that had occured in my life, every decade on the year ending in nine.

This could be traced back all the way to September 1939 when I was just three and a half years old. It was the month WWII started and my father left to go to war. I have absolutely no memory of this, but just two weeks later my mother gave birth to my sister, and my elder brother and I went to stay with my aunt and uncle for a couple of weeks.

I have a vivid memory of this visit, in spite of my age.  My uncle was a chauffeur for Lord Farringdon. He lived on the estate of Buscot Park, in Oxfordshire. He and my aunt lived in a flat (Apartment.) above the garages were the Rolls Royce’s were kept. The estate is now open to the public and the Garages are now the ticket office where visitors start their tour.

I never went inside Buscot House (Below.) but walked by the front steps and explored the whole park with my brother and cousin. We went fishing in the lake there, and I remember catching a small fish. I remember a rose garden that sloped down to the lake, with a sundial in the center.

When WWII ended in 1945 and my father returned, he had a hard time keeping a steady job, and we moved every year. This played havoc with my schooling. In 1946, 1947, and 1948 we lived in different places often hundreds of miles apart.

Dave 1949By 1949 I was 13 years old and we moved to Luton, an industrial town just 30 miles north of London. My mother finally said she was through moving and we settled there. I caught up with my education, got a scholarship to an Engineering Technical School, which lead to an engineering apprenticeship.

Luton was also where I started cycling. Joined a club and started racing at 16 years old. It was where I met Pop Hodge and started dabbling in framebuilding, and look where that lead. Luton was definitely a life changing move.

In 1959, now 23 years old, an adult and able to make my own choices. On a quite sudden whim while in between jobs, I decided to move north the Nottingham. It was there I later married in 1964, and we had two daughters. 

In 1969, still unaware of this ten year itch thing I had going, we upped and moved to Worcester. My original intentions were to find a simpler lifestyle in rural Worcestershire. A better environment to raise two small daughters.

As it happened Worcester was in the West Midlands, just south of Birmingham, and a hot bed of British cycle racing. This got me heavily involved in cycling and framebuilding again. Once again a life changing move.

Dave 1979In 1979 aged 43 I moved to America. My marriage had ended and it was a good time to make a complete break.

I later remarried.  Nothing happened in 1989, except my second wife left, so I guess that is significant, but not altogether life changing. Anyway I was aware if this ten year cycle thing by now.

I left the bike biz in 1993, moved to Eugene, Oregon in 1994. Met my wife Kathy there and married in October, 1998. Now I could have waited a few months and married in 1999, but you can’t manipulate fate, and for what other reason would I do that?

We moved to Charleston, South Carolina in 2001. We are still here and nothing significant happened in 2009. However, here we are on the dawn of 2019 and we are considering moving inland. Charleston is a beautiful area and we love it here, but the secret is out and there are getting to be too many people. Traffic is horrendous, and it will only get worse.

We are looking at rural areas near Greenville, South Carolina. Listed as a bicycle friendly city by the League of American Wheelmen. It could happen this year, but not be to fulfil some prophecy, but because the time is right. It will just be a coincidence that it happened on a year ending in nine, which is how I feel it has always been. An interesting coincidence.

 

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Monday
Dec312018

Gear Table

Bike stores used to give away gear tables as promotional or advertising material, it seems I hardly ever see them anymore. If I talk to a newbie bike rider about gears in inches they have no idea what I am talking about.

So in writing this I am not sure if I am dealing with a subject that most of my readership will already be aware of, or do those who don’t know even care? I’ll assume you do care and there may be some little snippet of information you will find interesting or useful.

Why do we talk of gears in “Inches?” For that you have to go all the way back to the Penny Farthing, or High Wheeler.

It was the diameter of the big wheel. A 60 inch or in other words 5 feet diameter wheel was a 60 inch gear.

This only became widely used when the chain driven bicycle came on the scene.

It became necessary to advertise these as having a similar 60 inch gearing, or higher or lower. A new buyer could compare that with what he was already used to.

The formula for calculating any gear is simple. Divide the diameter of the rear wheel by number of teeth on the rear sprocket.

Then multiply this by the number of teeth on your chainwheel. Assume the rear wheel is 27 inch for a road bike, this is not a precise measurement, but rather a comparison.

For example if you are using 50 chainring, with 18 tooth sprocket, you are in a 75.0 inch gear. (27 divide by 18, times 50 equals 75.) If you drop down to your 36 ring using a 13 tooth sprocket you are in a 74.8 inch gear. Close enough to be the same gear.

Back in the day we used to train on gears in the 60s or 70s, and race on gears in the 80s and 90s. Today on level terrain I ride around 69 or 70 inch. It allows me to pedal at around 72 to 75 rpm.

We used to spend hours studying gear tables, trying to find the ideal gear range. Possibly today’s bikes with 10, 11, and now even 12 sprockets on the rear hub, you are pretty much covered in any situation. Whereas, we only had 5 or 6 cogs on a freewheel, and it was necessary to choose each sprocket carefully depending on the terrain you planned to ride.

For a leisure rider today he has the luxury of more gears than he needs at the top or bottom of the range, and a rev counter to tell his cadence, so it really doesn’t matter what gear he is using. I think I have just answered my own question as to why the gear table is obsolete.

Hope you enjoyed the history aspect. May I take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year? Be safe and stay healthy. A special thanks to my regular readers who have sent donations. These have helped tremendously to offset the cost of maintaining this blog and my Registry. Your kind help is much appreciated.

 

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Monday
Dec242018

Christmas 1941

I came across this Christmas Greetings message sent to me by my father in 1941.  It depicts a cartoon Santa, on a camel. With a “V” for Victory on the camel’s side. Mailed from somewhere in the Sahara Desert, North Africa. It is amazing this scrap of paper has survived all these years, still in its original envelope, addressed to "Master D. Moulton," as was customary.

Christmas 1941 was a historic date in time as America had just entered the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th. Britain and the rest of Europe had been at war with Germany since September 1939.

It was within a week or two of the declaration of war that my father had left. He went straight to North Africa where he remained fighting with the British 8th Army, and finally defeating Rommel's German army. A campaign that lasted almost five years. He came home briefly, early in 1944, before leaving again for France during the Normandy Invasion.

I was only 3 ½ years old when my father left in 1939 so I remember little of him before that date. This Christmas Greeting measuring 5 x 4 inches, appears to be a photo copy of a much larger sheet. The hand written message is so tiny, a magnifying glass is required the read it. The message said:

“From your loving father, to my ever loved son David. Merry Christmas, and may God keep you safe until I return home.”

His concern must have been genuine in those early dark days of WWII. Germany had overrun the whole continent of Europe, and was poised on the coast of France just 25 miles away across the English Channel. The threat of Britain also being invaded was very real.

My father, Edward (Ned) Moulton 1941 I was nine years old when the war ended. Sadly the promise of a loving relationship that this Christmas message conveyed, did not materialize.

My father must have gone through six years of absolute hell. He never spoke of it.

When he was in a good mood, he was extremely generous. He gave out cash in lieu of affection.

He bought me a lightweight racing bike that must have cost him a month’s wages. If it hadn’t been for him I never would have got into racing.

This of course led eventually to framebuilding. My father defined who I am today more than any other, and for that I am grateful.    

May I wish you a Joyous Christmas, or whatever it is you celebrate this time of year. 

 

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