Back in 2015 I received a Milwaukee road bike:
It quickly became probably my most-ridden bike, and it spent time as sort of a gravelly all-rounder:
A be-fendered rain bike (though what other kind of rain bike is there?):
And I even raced it in the park once or twice during my brief comeback:
Most recently, my elder son has been riding it, since it’s an ideal bike on which to learn the Ways of the Road:
I’ve acquired and dispensed with varioius bikes over the years, but the Milwaukee is what you call a “keeper” because it has certain attributes that are becoming increasingly rare. Specifically, it’s a sporty road bike, which in itself is not particularly remarkable, but it’s also steel, it has bosses for downtube shifters if you’re so inclined, and it takes not only rim brakes, but medium-reach rim brakes:
In a sensible world most sporty road bikes would have come with medium-reach brakes, and even Bicycling was touting them as recently as 2016, shortly before they sold out to disc brakes and gravel bikes and forgot versatile classic road bikes with rim brakes ever existed:
And yes, they call them “long-reach” there, but they mean medium, since short reach-brakes eventually became standard so anything more than that seemed long. You wanna see a real long-reach brake? This is a long-reach brake:
Anyway, so yeah, racy-yet-practical non-disc frames like this are disappearing. You can’t even get them from Surly anymore! The last time a Surly pulled up next to me I heard the squealing discs before I saw it, and when I turned around I saw some high-falutin’ thing I just figured was a custom steel garvel biek until I got a closer look at the branding.
Et tu, Surly? Et tu?
Besides possessing the attributes I prize as a traditionalist who still appreciates racy handling from time to time, the Milwaukee, while lacking lugs, does have some aesthetic flourishes:
Including this irreverent headbadge:
Unfortunately, it also has an unlikely bubonic situation happening on the top tube, probably due to my highly corrosive sweat:
Obviously I am a dirtbag, as evidenced by this top tube, which Lob forbid I should ever wipe down after a hot summer ride once in awhile. Given this, I could have kept on riding the bike like this indefinitely. (No, steel-haters, even a rusty top tube is not going to cause a frame to fail in your lifetime.) However, since I like the bike so much, and since it merits not only preservation but also an interesting color, I’ve arranged with Ben’s Cycle (longtime blog sponsor and of course the purveyors of Milwaukee Bicycle Company) to have it refinished.
Of course, dirtbags are often lazy to boot, and I’m no exception. So I’d been putting off stripping it down, boxing it up, and sending it off. But yesterday it finally snowed and so I figured that was a perfect excuse to finally get to work:
Here it is, ready for its new clothes:
But I still needed some packing stuff, so I figured I’d head out to a nearby office supply store named after the small bits of metal you use to fasten papers together. (Not paper clips, the other thing.) But first I needed to properly seat that boutique tire, so inspired by this comment I squirted some foaming hand sanitizer all around the bead and inflated the fuck out of it:
When I wiped away the foam I found the tire had seated itself nicely, so I guess it turns out hand sanitizer is good for something after all, go figure.
Next I repaired the punctured tube I had previously replaced using this whimsical patch kit from Rivendell:
In addition to containing communist propaganda about not being wasteful…
…it also features a variety of patches, including a glueless one in case the tube of glue dries up (and we’ve all been there):
The glue itself also featured handy warning labels, though an additional one about not going to the bathroom after using it would have saved me considerable embarrassment:
Let’s just say it’s rather adhesive.
In any case, stay tuned for the BSNYC Patch Kit Shootout:
Once I was done, I added the Rivendell patch kit to my burgeoning tool roll:
Ideally you should only ever need three tubes total per bicycle–two in the tires and one in the saddlebag. In theory, the cycle goes like this: get puncture, swap tube, repair punctured tube later and keep as spare, repeat for eternity or until there’s no more room for patches, whichever comes first. Alas, in practice dirtbags like me just make giant inner tube piles they mean to patch and never do, then they write columns about how it’s okay to throw them out to assuage their own guilt. But at least I’m going through the motions.
After I’d finished repairing the tube I headed out to the office supply store, but not before going 20 miles out of my way and heading down to Central Park via the Henry Hudson Greenway:
Please note that I am officially watermarking all my photos now:
Sadly I don’t know how to watermark them digitally so I’m forced to do it in real life. I’m not sure what I’ll do when there’s no snow, but I guess I’ll just carry around a can of spraypaint.
There was some snow on the northernmost end of the Greenway as always, but nothing I and my boutique ballet slipper tires couldn’t handle:
Soon after that I hit The Salting Line:
Basically, the city salts the shit out of everything on the Greenway south of like 191st street, and above that you’re on your own.
Further down, I came across this ghost bike:
I was not immediately familiar with the story behind this particular bike; unfortunately it’s very difficult to keep track of all the tragedies here, in both the practical and emotional sense. I also don’t know what “Zellers” means here. However, on the off-chance someone does I’m sharing the number that follows it:
I’m not always successful, but I try to remind myself to be grateful for every pedal stroke and enjoy the path for as long as I’m on it:
Finally I made it to Central Park, where they were singing “Imagine” across from the Dakota as always:
The park was mercifully empty, and even most of the roadies seemed to be sparing their Fred Sleds from the road salt:
Or maybe they were, like, working or something, I hear that’s a thing some people still have to do in New York City.
Speaking of New York and not working, you could devote your life to studying the bicycles you find locked up all over town. Here’s a compelling pair:
The battle-worn Klein speaks for itself, but I had to study the silver bike for some time before figuring out its origin. I knew it must have come from a bike share fleet, and at first I suspected Citi Bike, but a closer look revealed it started off as a Lime:
Here’s what it presumably looked like before it went astray, or was liberated, depending on how you look at it:
I’ve usually got no tolerance for bike theft, though the way some of these venture capital-bloated bike share companies just scattered their wares about all willy-nilly makes it difficult for me to disapprove too strongly of anyone who might have appropriated one of them to their own purposes.
Here’s another bike that drew my eye–an old Schwinn with a bit of a Riv treatment:
I think those may even be Choco bars.
And here’s something far more common but perhaps of interest to those of you who don’t live in New York, that being a the standard-issue food delivery e-bike:
Of course I use “standard issue” as a figure of speech, since nobody issues them; the riders are responsible for their own bikes and pretty much everything else. This “every man for himself” approach is in part to blame for the city’s recent rash of battery fires. It also results in shitty working conditions in general, obviously. The Smuggies have long pointed this out, and the city was talking about opening charging stations for them on city-owned property, which is kind of infuriating when you consider this is something the food delivery apps should be doing with their own fucking money. Indeed, so far the only company that has made even a token effort to accommodate delivery people in New York is a popular chain of chicken restaurants:
But you’ll barely about read that in the Smuggie media, since they don’t like the chicken restaurant’s politics, go figure.
Oh, here’s another common sight in the city:
They’re always courteous enough to leave something under the car when they do this, though I suspect it’s less about that than it is about being able to get their jacks out:
I’ve seen all sorts of things left under cars like this, from cinder blocks to milk crates–and yes, milk crates can support a late-model crossover vehicle, though they do buckle quite a bit.
Anyway, if you want to own a car in New York and deal with the hassle that’s your business. However, if you insist on doing so I would strongly recommend not buying a Honda, since from what I can tell there’s no make of car in New York that’s more plundered than Honda. I’ve had a couple myself over the years and it seemed like people were always pulling the emblems and bits of trim from them. Also, if you zoom in, you’ll see the calling card of the notorious Egg Gang:
I do think that’s an egg though.
Anyway, after all that, I finally made it to the office supply store:
Sure, I coulda taken that train you see up there, but what fun would that have been?