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Tuesday
Nov212006

Positive Thinking

I was watching a story on TV recently about a young female soldier in Iraq who received serious head wounds from a roadside bomb. She miraculously survived, due largely to some skillful surgery by a field surgeon.

In telling her story she started out by saying while in Iraq she got up every morning and thought, “Is today the day I will die or be seriously injured.” That day came when an unarmored truck she was in, was blasted by a roadside bomb.

Even in a situation as fraught with danger as our military faces in Iraq, a person cannot live their life in fear. How is this all relevant to you and me riding our bikes every day? There are no roadside bombs to deal with, but every vehicle that passes is a potential bomb in what it could do to us.

But again a person cannot live their life in fear, and we cannot go out every day and think “Is today the day I will get hit.” Because trust me, hold that thought long enough and you will get hit. That is the way the Universe works, whether you believe it or not.

Most people believe in the power of positive thinking and know that good things come to people who think that way. We should also know that, unfortunately, a negative thought works too. The good news is that a positive thought will always erase a negative one. The danger is in constantly holding on to the negative.

Every time I ride my bike, or even when driving my car in rush hour traffic, I tell myself, “I am safe; nothing will happen to me.” I believe it, and therefore I am protected.

Another way to look at it is, even with all the crazy drivers out there, doing crazy stuff like talking on their cell phones and not paying attention, the chances of that person doing something stupid at the precise moment he or she passes you is still pretty remote. What I am saying is that the odds of you being hit by someone, or not, is in your favor.

It was just about a year ago when Jim Price, of Littleton, CO was riding in a bike lane when a 17 year old who was driving and text messaging on his cell phone drifted over into the bike lane and struck Jim, seriously injuring him. Later that day he died of his injuries.

Even with someone doing something as foolhardy as this and not paying attention to the road ahead, what were the chances that the 17 year old would wander into the bike lane at the precise moment that Jim Price was there? Jim was probably the only cyclist out there on that particular stretch of road for miles.

Had the driver wandered off course a split second earlier or later he would have missed Jim and there would have been no accident; just another close call. I am not speculating why this happened, only asking, what were the odds that Jim Price would be hit that day?

To sum up what I am trying to say here: Enjoy riding your bike and don’t live in fear. Convince loved ones and those around you that you are safe, so they are not holding negative thoughts through fear.

Tell yourself constantly, “I am safe, I am protected” believing it and knowing that the odds of you being hit are remote. Don’t let close calls phase you; close calls tell you the positive thinking is working.

Wear highly visible clothing, place yourself where you can be seen, and be predictable; give clear signals. And remember, shit doesn’t just happen; negative thinking causes shit to happen.

Sunday
Nov192006

KOF: Kind of Funny


I kept seeing the abbreviation KOF on Classic Rendezvous Bike List. Not knowing what it meant I was puzzled when I saw it linked to my name.

So I had to email my friend Dale Brown, webmaster of the CR site and ask, WTF does KOF mean?

Dale emailed back with the answer “Keeper of the Flame.” Referring to those responsible for keeping alive the craft of building hand brazed bicycle frames.

As I retired from framebuilding in 1993 I fail to see how I can be referred to as KOF; my flame has gone out and there is not even a spark to light it.

However, I got to thinking maybe there is another meaning in my case. When I had my framebuilding business in California, I operated a strict no visitor policy.

The reason was simple. Framebuilding is a very labor-intensive business, and when people came to visit, they were not content with the two-cent tour and then leave; they wanted to hang out for most of the day. Result, no work was done that day.

Moreover, if I allowed one visitor I would have to allow everyone, which could amount to several each week. Customers would not be pleased if their order was delivered late and would hardly accept the excuse, “I had a lot of visitors this week, so your frame didn’t get finished.”

Building frames paid the bills; giving tours of my frameshop did not. It was hard to explain this to someone who showed up at my door, uninvited, especially if they had driven a great distance to see me.

I have received hate mail from at least one person who still holds a grudge after he was refused entry to my shop in the mid 1980s. Even though I have since tried to explain the situation and apologized for my rudeness.

So I guess in my case KOF should stand for Kranky Old Fart or maybe Kicker Out of Frameshop.

Thursday
Nov162006

Don Tate: Cyclist


[Click on picture to view an enlarged version.]

When a bike enthusiast emails me I add the name to my “Bike List.” I have 126 email addresses on the list now. Occasionally I send a group email out when I have something to announce. I try not to do this too often as everyone, including myself, gets too much junk email; I have no wish to add to the problem.

I sent out such a group message last Sunday to announce the first anniversary of my Bike Blog. Some of the recipients emailed back to say they enjoy reading the blog. One email in particular from the wife of someone on my list, touched me deeply; here is an excerpt from the message:

"My husband Don passed away Dec 15, 2005 from neuro endocrine cancer. He enjoyed reading your blogs and hoped to ride his bicycles again. Don bought his first "real" bike when he was fifteen years old from money saved from his newspaper route. He always said cycling was in your blood; it became a passion that carried with you through out your whole life. For Don, this was true. Even though he couldn't ride while he was undergoing chemo, he would sit in his bike room (a designated bedroom in our home, "because his bikes were too precious to him to be left in he garage") and plan cycling trips."

Fuso owner, Don Tate had first contacted me in January 2005. Among his collection of memorabilia, he had a copy of a souvenir program/magazine from the 1985 Coor’s Classic Bicycle Race. It had a full page color ad on the back cover for my then new Fuso frame. The ad is pictured at the top of this blog; it featured a picture of the first Fuso (# 001.) built the year before in 1984.

Don asked me if I would sign his copy of the magazine for him. He subsequently mailed it to me and included a very nice glossy copy of the ad for myself. This was greatly appreciated as I had lost my copy of this particular program.

Don’s statement that cycling is in one’s blood is very true; it is something intangible deep within the psyche of the cyclist. We can’t explain it but we all know it is there. Because we share this thing, whatever it is, we feel connected in some way.

It is more than just a group of people sharing a common interest, like playing golf, or collecting Baseball Cards. Although we could never describe what it is we experience when riding, we automatically know that another bike rider knows, and that creates a bond between some of us.

I say some of us because this is something different from a runner’s high, which is an adrenaline rush, newcomers to cycling do not always get it right away; a few never get it. Wrapped up in the materialistic, they see the bike as an art object, or thing of beauty; never realizing that the true beauty is in the ride, not just in the metalwork and paint.

There is a definite physical connection between rider and the bicycle; the machine becomes an extension of the rider. Then there are psychic connections not only to the bike but also to the elements like the wind, whether it is a head wind or tail wind. There is a connection to the terrain also, uphill, downhill, or even a fast stretch of smooth, flat road.

I never had the privilege of meeting Don Tate face to face, shaking his hand, but I feel I knew him. I knew of his connection to his bike and to cycling. Because he also rode one of my bikes, and because there is a part of me in every frame I built, I felt an added connection, which is probably why I was so deeply touched his wife’s email and its content.

Some of us believe in a Heaven, or afterlife; I believe this journey we call life has to lead to something. Maybe it will include cycling, or maybe the feeling we get when riding is what we will feel all the time.

That would be Heaven.

Tuesday
Nov142006

Where have all the Fusos gone?


As well as starting this blog a year ago, it was also in November 2005 that I started tracking my bikes and frames for sale on eBay.

In the first ten months of the year there was never more that a week went by that there wasn’t one of my products up for bidding. Mostly Fusos, but a few John Howard and Recherche marques.

Only two custom ‘dave moulton’ came up; one track bike sold on the UK eBay, and a frame sold in September. Both of these were built in England in the 1970s.

Now the flow has stopped for whatever reason there hasn’t been one on eBay for two months; September, 17th was the last.

In the twelve months I tracked sales, there were only a total of 37 up for sale; a mere drop in the bucket when you consider I built close to 3,000 Fuso frames, 200 or so John Howards and just over 200 Recherche frames.

So were have they all gone? I hope a lot of them are still being ridden and enjoyed, but I suspect a lot are sitting in garages and basements, neglected, unloved, and their owners have no idea what they have.

I recently heard from a young man who bought a complete John Howard bike for $6; the components were corroded, the chain rusting, and the tires were shot, but six bucks?

I told the young buyer he could have turned it around on eBay as it was for $200-$300. I’m pleased to say he decided to keep it and ride it.

Where have all the Fusos gone?
Long time passing,
Where have all the Fusos gone?
Long time ago.
Where have all the Fusos gone?
They rust in basements, one by one,
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?


With apologies to Pete Seeger, (Peter, Paul and Mary.)

Sunday
Nov122006

Happy Birthday Dear Bike Blog


Dave’s Bike Blog is one year old today, how time flies when you are having fun.

I have posted 45 blogs; that’s a little under one a week for the year. I started out slow, averaging only two or three new posts a month to begin with, but in recent months that has increased to as many as six to eight a month.

One of the reasons for the slow beginning; when I started I had three blogs going, which proved to be hard to keep up. As the Bike Blog seemed to have the most support, I dropped the other two and kept this one.

I have come to realize that in order for a blog to be successful and have a following the blogger needs to post something new on a regular basis, and try to keep it interesting. That can be a challenge.

My writings are of course aimed at the bike enthusiast, but I try to write in a way that a person outside the sport would find the piece interesting, informative and entertaining. So if you ever feel that I am “dumbing down” an article remember that there are some out there who are new to this wonderful pastime of ours.

I have always believed in writing in simple, uncomplicated terms anyway; some people can get way too technical about bicycles. The bicycle is one of the simplest and yet most efficient machines ever invented; you push one pedal down, and the other comes up. How can you get over technical on such a simple machine?

Why do I blog? Several reasons. Writing is what I do now and just as building a lot of bicycle frames improved my skill as a framebuilder; a writer needs to write on a regular basis.

This blog allows me to post random thoughts and other writings without cluttering up my website; although I will admit my website gets neglected at times because of time spent writing blogs, when it too needs updating regularly.

Earlier this year I added advertisements to the blog, but removed them after only a week or two. The reason; I realized we are all bombarded with too much advertising and I did not need to be cluttering up my blog with more junk.

This blog is of course a form of self-promotion, to make others aware of my current creative endeavors. There is no point in creating anything if no one knows about it

When I came to the US in 1979 I was an unknown framebuilder. Even though I had a solid reputation in my native England; I was relatively unknown in America. The way I became known was by articles in various magazines like Bicycling and Velo-News, and after that it was steady word of mouth.

Now I am a relatively unknown writer with a novel called Prodigal Child; it too sells largely by word of mouth. This blog is a two way street; if I can manage to inform, entertain, and occasionally amuse you with my writings, hopefully you will become a regular reader and tell others of this blog and thereby perpetuate the word of mouth thing.

I appreciate and encourage your participation by way of comments and suggestions. Some of you don’t want the hassle of signing up with Blogger to post a comment, but you can always go to my profile page where you will find my email and contact me directly if you have a specific question or suggestion for a blog.

Sometimes I am swamped with emails and it takes me a while to answer them all, but I am not at the point yet where I cannot handle the personal contact. When it gets to that point it will be nice to have a wider audience for my writings, but for now I like the way it is; I feel I have a small but very elite following.

But then bike riders are, for the most part, an elite bunch anyway.