Friday, August 30, 2013

The Joy of Peddling and Pedaling Bicycles

Recently I have discovered the joy of peddling and pedaling bicycles.

ped·dle - ˈpedl [verb] - To try to sell (something, esp. small goods) by going from place to place. Example, "He peddled art around the country."

ped·al - ˈpedl, [verb] - To move by working the pedals of a bicycle. Example, "They pedaled along the bike pathway."

Prior to traveling, I sold my Trek mountain bike to free myself from placing it in storage.

When I returned from traveling I wanted a bicycle to ride around Austin. I didn't want a new bike that would be a target for thieves. Yes, unfortunately, Austin has a very high rate of bicycle theft. So I ended up looking through for a used bike. To my surprise I was able to find a sweet used mountain bike that was built in the early 90s called a Raleigh M-50... some might call it a vintage bike.

The owner of the bike was the original owner, but no longer wanted the bike because they had not used it for many years and it was in a state of disrepair. I looked over the bike... checked that the components were in good condition, evaluated if the rims were aligned, ensured that there was no major frame damage or rust. After some evaluation, I was satisfied that overall the bike was in good condition and that I could recondition the parts that were in disrepair. I ended up negotiating with the owner and bought the bike for $30. That's right $30! What can one really buy for $30 these days. Answer... a bike on craigslist.

Well... I transported the bike home and started to work on it. First I cleaned the bike with some soap and water and WD40. I dismantled the brakes, axles, cranks and gears and lubricated them. The rims seemed to be a little out of alignment. I watched a video on youtube to learn how to align the rims and I was able to get them back in shape. Both of the tires appeared to be flat, so I disassembled the tubes from the tires and checked the tubes under water. Only one tube had a small puncture. The second tube appeared to be okay. I made a quick trip to the store where I purchased a new inner tube for $5. I reinstalled both tubes and tires and presto... the bike was ready to ride.

I rode the Raleigh for a while, but found that I wanted a little bit larger frame. I reasoned that it would be nice to have two bikes in the house. I could use one for myself and use a second bike for guests. I often have guests stay at my house and riding around on a bike together is a nice way to explore Austin.
I went back onto craigslist and found a second used mountain bike called a Gary Fisher Tarpon. This bike was a more recent model and probably build in the late 90s. It was actually in much better shape and thus I ended up paying $75. 

I still had to clean it and tune it up. Once I prepped it, this bike was actually very comfortable and fun to ride around town.

Now I had two bikes, but I had my eye on a different type of bike.

I had seen postings on craigslist for a bike called a Montague Paratrooper. The bike was designed in Switzerland supposedly for the US Military. The interesting thing about this brand of bike was that the company's bikes were folding bikes. I thought that having a folding bike might come in handy someday if I decided that I wanted to travel with the bike. 

New, these bikes costs anywhere from $650 to $3000 depending on the components. I had seen used bikes like these on craigslist selling for between $300 to $800. However, whenever I saw these bikes for sale on craigslist and responded to the ads, the deals appeared to be scams. Every time I sent an email to a seller, I would not receive a response or I would receive a response asking some outrageous requests. Sometimes this happens on craigslist... Bummer.

Over the summer, I took a vacation to the western part of the United States. 
Upon my return, I saw a posting on craigslist for a Montague bike for $150. I thought that certainly this must be a scam. Why would anyone sell the bike at such a reduced price. I contacted the seller and he actually responded. We arranged a time to meet so that I could evaluate the bike.

I met the seller at his apartment. We walked to his garage where he was storing the bike. He pulled out the bike and I examined it. The bike had dust on it. One of the tires was flat. Each of the rims were a little bit out of alignment. However, the frame, components, brakes, seat and shocks were all in working condition.

I mentioned that I was planning to register the bike with the police and asked if it was stolen. The seller said that it was his bike and that he actually received the bike as a promotion when he bough a new Mitsubishi Montero truck. I had heard about some of these promotions in which this model of bike was given to buyers of some SUVs like Hummers and Monteros. I could sense that the seller was being honest... and that he wanted to sell the bike.

I asked if his price was negotiable. He hesitated a while, but said that the lowest he could offer the bike was for $125. Wow... an instant discount.

I asked if he would accept $115.

He said that the would accept $120.

Deal! I paid the man and was happy to do so.

I was the happy owner of a Montague bike which I had just paid $120.

I took the bike home and went to work on it in my workshop. The issue with the introductory models of the Montague brand was that they were often equipped with cheap components.

However, I had some ideas and options.

I simply swapped out the cheap components for better components from the other two bikes. I switched the handlebars, stem, brakes, tires and pedals. All these upgrades were basically free. I still think that I could upgrade the bike with better cranks, chainrings and a front shock, but these alterations can wait. I added a new tube that cost $5... and I was off riding.

But now I had three bikes... kind of excessive.

Back to craigslist. I posted an ad for each of the old bikes and wrote a detailed description which highlighted the fact that the bikes were vintage mountain bikes. For the Raleigh bike that I had invested $35... I sold for $125. For the Gary Fisher bike that I had invested $75... I also sold for $125. So I sold both bikes for $250, only invested $110, and ended up with a profit of $140. Hey... that pretty much covered the cost of the Montague bike... Nice!

There is something very Zen about owning, cleaning, tuning and riding a bicycle. It is a very physical, manual or hands-on thing. I think that I enjoy maintaining a bike as much as I enjoy riding a bike. However much effort one puts in... one immediately receives back.

I kind of haphazardly stumbled into buying and selling these bicycles... now I plan to just enjoy riding the one I own.

Ah... the joy of peddling and pedaling a bicycle.
Here is a short 3 minute video featuring the Montague bike.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Borrego Stardance... Sweet Time-lapse Under The Stars

Sweet dreams... This crazy combination of amazing steel sculptures and protected sky led to some pretty cool results, as the giant creatures awoke for a midnight "Stardance."
Check out the video

Shot and Edited by: Gavin Heffernan

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