Sunday, October 26, 2008

On the Ridge

My favorite stretch of road.

The colors aren't as intense this year. Clinton County had light rainfall in August and September, but the view from the ridge road was still as beautiful as ever.

I work for Penn State's College of Ag Sciences, and I am constantly amazed by the breadth of topics that are covered in our education and research. Marc Abrams in Forest ecology, and Cooperative Extension's water resource specialist Bryan Swistock sum it up nicely in terms even a marketing director can understand. Now if they could only tell me how to get that tapping sound out of my valves, my day would be perfect.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Better Than I Deserved

The bike has served me well this summer.
It's time to return the favor.

A summer of riding is beginning to take its toll on the bike. The maintenance I’ve been putting off is starting to mount up and it’s becoming not a matter of if, but when. When will the clutch cable go? When will the tires stop holding the line? What is that pinging? Is it getting louder? It is. I’ve noticed spots on the garage floor that were not there before. I suspect the oil pan gasket—or a squirrel with a serious bladder infection.

I’m not mechanical by nature, but I am curious. This is why I bought a vintage bike—to take it into the garage in the cold months and tinker. To fix what I can and leave the heavy lifting to the pros. The trick will be not to turn it into a basket case.

Last June, my friend Tom gave me some advice. Only do one thing at a time and keep it ridable. Finish small, manageable projects instead of taking the whole thing apart at once. Keep the frustration level low. As a master at half finished restorations, he’s right.

Old projects like this haunt all of our dreams. The ’72 Ford pick-up with the missing heads. The vintage Chevy tarped up in someone else’s garage. Several baskets of parts that at one time made a Carmen Ghia. We’ve all been there.

For me, it started when I took apart my first bicycle during a snow day in the fifth grade. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and summer was months away. Getting it back together? That’s another story.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Don’t Pick Up the Phone

Living within twenty miles of your father means you can never sleep late again.

October has arrived and with it the last of the warm days. The days that remind me why I bought the bike in the first place. I should be riding. Instead I’m on the mountain cutting wood with dad. He likes to start early.