Friday, September 28, 2012

Scenes Along the Road

Late September. I’m not in quite the shape I’d like to be, vis a vis the bicycle.

But I’m a-tryin’. I’m out there turning the cranks as often as possible. And I keep passing interesting things along the way, like the buffalo at right.

There haven't been any wild buffalo in the American west for a long, long time, so far as I know. Maybe a few stray here and there.

The beast seen here is one of a herd off Nelson Road in northern Boulder County, Colorado, not too far from where my daughter takes riding lessons. In all likelihood, this critter is destined to end up as a buffalo burger, or a steak on someone's plate.

The herd was right up along the side of the road when I passed it in a car on the way to my daughter's lesson. But by the time we had her saddled up and I had ridden my bike back, they had moved away from the fence. I didn't have a zoom lens, but I think this picture looks okay.

And how about this sign? I think its most important line is, "we load for you." Yeah, the cow manure is organic. That's very good to know, in this green and golden era.

But, we load for you. Oh yeah. That's what really counts.

Bikes have been on my mind a lot lately. I shall spend the balance of this post writing whatever I think about them, and illustrating it with additional photos that I've taken during the course of one ride or another. I always take along a small digital camera when I ride.

I'm trying to learn some bicycle mechanics, so that I become less dependent on the local bike shop. (The shop I most often haunt is Louisville Cyclery.) Toward that end, I've gone to a few workshops at Community Cycles, a very cool cycling cooperative not too far from where I live.

Just recently, in fact, I took a shifters and derailleurs class there. So emboldened was I, that afterward I replaced the shifter cables to the front derailleur on my guinea pig bike, an old Peugeot that someone gave to me a few years back. Then I changed the brake cables on my wife's bike.

Work like this is small potatoes to those who know what the hell they're doing. It's still a big potato for me, although I almost feel like I know what I'm doing.

Aside from the workshops, my chief inspirations and guides include the web site of the late Sheldon Brown, a bike mechanics guru of some renown. I'm also guided by Lennard Zinn, a frame builder who has written several very useful bike repair books – titled, rather predictably, Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance (and ...of Mountain Bike Maintenance).

For the time being, it's going to be brakes and derailleurs. So far I've limited myself mostly to cables, although I'm fiddling with the brake levers on that guinea pig bike. Someone gave me an old Park Tools bike stand (people keep giving me stuff!) ... so I'll move on to other areas of the bike, in due time.

(I made a post similar to this one early this summer.)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Grain Elevator: Game Over

If I thought anyone read this blog on even a semi-regular basis, I'd probably stop making little posts about the century-old grain elevator in my town.

But I don't think anyone does, so I'll keep on making the posts. What the hell.

Somehow, they've saved the damned thing. Somehow the city council approved a measure to buy and restore the rickety old grain elevator to the tune of 1.5 million dollars – or up to that amount, according to an article in the paper.

So the city now owns it, and must come up with a plan to use it for something. Its previous, private owners had said they would demolish it if that was the only way they could sell the parcel of land on which it stands.

"I'm excited for the community's vision to come together for what we want the grain elevator to become," the mayor said, although exactly what it will become, I think, is anybody's guess.

I've been strangely intrigued by the fate of this building, and have followed developments over the last six months or so. I'm very pleased they've found a way to save it.

On a recent late summer morning I took the picture above. The original was in color, but I saved it as B&W and tweaked the result with editing software.

One vision of what it could become appeared in the local paper as a rather idyllic artist's rendering (left).

I don't know what happens next, but before any sort of restoration can take place the building must be stabilized and "rehabilitated." I get the stabilizing part, but I don't know what "rehabilitated" means. That's what the local newspaper keeps saying, though. Apparently a local firm has backed out of an agreement to fix up the old thing.

After running the same old photograph over and over and over, the way newspapers do, somebody finally dug up another vintage picture of the grain elevator, which I include below.