Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tour De BBQ Fundraising Check In.

Howdy all! I am checking in today with my Tour De BBQ fundraising report. You can actually make this author a liar if you donate before you read. That might be fun.

Anyway, here is the report: I'm still the king at $720.00

Top Ten Fundraisers

Tour de BBQ 2011

  1. Justin Husman - $720.00
  2. Carrie Helfers - $550.00
  3. Craig Henwood - $355.00
  4. Stacey Corrado - $245.00
  5. Michael Alexander - $150.00
  6. Niki Fehling - $145.00
  7. Benjamin Andrews - $100.00
  8. Luke Babb - $50.00
  9. Kathy Lung - $50.00
  10. Jonathan Nye - $40.00

Proof here.

Once again, I want to thank everyone who has contributed so far. Notice how I use those two words there - so far. There is still time to make a donation before the ride, so please do if you are inclined to do so. I'm pretty happy at 150% of my initial goal, but would really like to stay in front. If so, I'm going to be an insufferable prick that day, asking everyone, "So, how much did you raise?" and then spiking them with "I'm the number one fundraiser, you know..."

I rode home on Saturday, and man, laying off in the hundred degree heat has been stupid. I couldn't make it much more than 10 or 12 miles an hour, and in fact had to stop once because I was being beaten so badly by the sun. I was OK in July, but I haven't really ridden for most of August - which might have been a miscalculation. I rode some morning rides, and some messing around rides, but that's about it.


I want to close by saying thanks again to everyone who donated so far - I really do thank you all for making any contribution. I promise not to hammer you with this every year (and in fact, next year I am thinking about riding RAGBRAI) and in fact might never do a fundraiser again. However, I am doing it now, and would really appreciate your donation to me this time.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Making Money Riding Bikes.

I'm writing this on Saturday - I had to work today, so I finally manned up and rode in. I'm hoping that this breaks the seal and I'm back on the riding "tip", as they say in the hip hop lyrics. I needed to get back on two wheels anyway, because as some of you might have heard, I'm riding in a big ride in Kansas City in October...

I ride for several reasons; to improve my health, to be "green", but mostly because I enjoy it. I have a secret reason to ride as well; I love free stuff. "Free Stuff?" you say incredulously, "How does one get free stuff when on a bicycle?".

Because people are forever dropping stuff out of their cars, that's why. I was riding my normal commute at the tail end of last summer, and as I was descending the hill near the Plano police department I spotted what looked like an iPhone in the street - and it was an iPhone. I slowed down, swung around, grabbed it and threw it in my trunk bag. It looked like the phone had been run over, as the display was shattered - but when I got to the office and plugged it in, it still powered up and came up in my iTunes. Unfortunately the owner had never filled out the owner info, and I was unable to figure out how to find them. The phone must have been new, as it had no music, photos, contacts, or anything on it. I messed with it for a little while, looked up the "finders keepers" rule in the "playground laws" books that line my office, and then put up an ad on Craigslist. I sold the phone for $100 by lunchtime.

Now an iPhone isn't a normal thing for me to see - actually, it's much more likely that I will find someone doing their laundry in Cottonwood Creek under the high five, as I did this morning.
Laundry Day! 
I know this looks like the famous picture of bigfoot, but it is actually a homeless (I assume) person doing his laundry in the creek. This is in a creek in the center of a very large city, directly under a giant highway overpass. I don't have a problem with this guy, per se, because I have never met him, but I do have a problem with the homeless hang out area on the path; apparently when doing your best hobo boozing, it's tons of fun to smash your empty bottles on the path for the cyclists to find on Monday morning - or Saturday, if they have to work.

Today it wasn't all homeless guys though - I actually found a pair of tickets to the Rangers vs Angels game for Sunday! I rode through an intersection at Waterview and Campbell, noticed them lying in the middle of the  street, took the chance, ran out and grabbed them. I expected to find a pair of tickets to an older game in my hand and then to pat myself on the back for picking up litter, but no, these were still "good" tickets. I finished my ride to the office, where I am such a bigshot that I had one of my lackeys waiting to let me in. (I forget my keys a lot). 

Tickets and lackey in the background
I am a big Ranger fan, but I'm actually going to a game on Wednesday anyway, so I offered the tickets to my lackey, who enthusiastically accepted. What I neglected to tell him was that I also grabbed an envelope out of the street that had originally contained the tickets - along with fourteen others. The tickets I found were seat one and seat ten. So when he goes to the game on Sunday with his found tickets, his seats will be mixed in with the people from the office party, or church group, or MMA fanclub that lost just two out of sixteen tickets. 

I'm sure it will be a great game! Go Rangers! 

Friday, August 26, 2011


Once again, I am blogging at my "Pro" gig, so I am short on time here. I have been working on my final "Why I ride to fight cancer" post, but for today, I have to talk about PIP auto insurance. Sorry, but that means you guys get a little less of me today.

Is it good or bad to have less of me? The twelve of you who read will have to decide among yourselves.

Obviously, one doesn't come to blogging skillz like this without reading other blogs and stealing where it is appropriate. This list doesn't represent the entire list of blogs that I read, but it's a good portion.

I'll start with Bikesnob - his blog is the only one I check every day (aside from this one) and he is THE bike blogger. Funny, insightful, and more than a little absurd. I'm a big fan.

I'm on the "masthead" of Biking in Dallas, and check in there once a week or so. I haven't written anything for them in a while, but I have a kickass new speedometer that might just be appropriate for the site. Stay tuned.

Bike Friendly Richardson is a site I check in with weekly - David is a great writer, and he is all over the city on his bike, advocating for us cyclists. His Flikr accounts are also very worthwhile.

I do still check in with the Fat Cyclist now and again, but he does lots of running now, which leaves me cold. He is a fundraiser par excellence, and supports Livestrong with a lot of passion, but anytime he is writing about being in a marathon, I am out.

I check in with the Rat Trap Press occasionally, and have found some great deals thanks to his blog; he posted a link to some cycling luggage at a steep discount once, and for that I am forever thankful.

Dave Moulton was a custom framebuilder both in England and America, since retired, and his blog is great. His stories about the old days in cycling as well as his perspective on cycling issues today are both great reasons to spend some time on his blog.

Finally, I love the blog DFW Point to Point. Steve is a great writer, a hardcore commuter, and apparently some kind of physicist, because his blog often involves maths, diagrams, and equations.

There are some other blogs in my wheelhouse, but none are regular visits like these. I'm off to blog about Dallas Auto Insurance for the rest of the day, so feel free to check in over there if you can't handle not having my words in your eyes.

Once again, thanks to everyone who donated to my fundraising efforts - I really do appreciate it, and want to remind you that the time to donate to my cancer fundraiser is not over.

Comfortable cruising

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Number ONE!!!

Top Ten Fundraisers

Tour de BBQ 2011

  1. Justin Husman - $565.00
  2. Carrie Helfers - $550.00
  3. Craig Henwood - $355.00
  4. Stacey Corrado - $245.00
  5. Michael Alexander - $150.00
  6. Niki Fehling - $145.00
  7. Benjamin Andrews - $100.00
  8. Luke Babb - $50.00
  9. Jonathan Nye - $40.00
  10. Aaron Huffman - $35.00

Proof here

Thanks so much to everyone. The time to raise money is not over yet, and I still plan to keep asking for donations until the day of the race, but for now, my fundraising victory is sweet. Please still do make a donation if you can (especially since I am winning by such a narrow margin). I want to thank everyone who has donated so far; as I said, I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to raise any money, as last year I was doing well to raise $75 to participate in the Wish 100

Really, thanks to you all that donated. I appreciate it so much. 


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

If you want the minimum to be 37...

Thanks to a large donation from one person, I reached my original goal of $500 - and thanks to everyone else, I am over my original goal by $20. Which is awesome, because no one wants to do the minimum, right?

Like your prettyboy over there
So now I come to a new discussion with you, dear reader. Before, I was worried about not being able to reach my initial goal of $500. Now I have a different request. While still continuing to raise money to fight cancer, I want to kick Carrie Helfers out of first place on the list. There, I've said it. Currently she sits $30 ahead of me.

Just $30.

1.Carrie Helfers - $550.00
2.Justin Husman - $520.00

Who is Carrie Helfers, you ask? Well, she works for the Kansas City Sports comission, and is actually on the board of directors of the Tour de BBQ.

So I want to raise more money to fight cancer than she does. Period. Here she is, miss fancypants "Grassroots Liason", with her fancy "college degree" and "job title". Then what happens? Some dude from Texas comes up into her town and raises more money than she does for her own event.

And looks this good doing it.
Just think about it!

I can do it, if you DONATE. Even if it's only $5 or $10, I'd appreciate it. Sure, part of the reason I'm still asking for DONATIONS is to feed my ego; I love to win stuff. But more than anything else, I want to raise money for the University of Kansas Cancer Center and help to put an end to cancer.

I've been trying to bring you plenty of content lately in hopes that you will find some value here and consider making a donation as a result. As a good salesman, I rarely take "no" for an answer - and I always ask for the sale more than once, so I'm going to ask you one last time to make even a small donation today. It is tax deductible, goes to a good cause, and could help me beat someone I've never met in a competition she may not know she is in.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Adios to a different kind of bike.

Before I got back into bicycles, I rode motorcycles. I've had a motorcycle for years now, pretty close to 6 or 7 - I can't remember, to be honest. Altogether I have owned 5 motorcycles in the past few years, but I have been riding my current motorcycle less and less; I think I put maybe a hundred miles on my BMW over the past twelve months, while I've put a few thousand miles on my bicycles.

Unfortunately motorcycles rot when they sit, and with a young daughter I rarely have extra time to be out motorcycling - and when I do have extra time, I am generally riding a bicycle. This being the case, and not wanting my beautiful BMW to rot, I have decided to "get out of the business", and sell her.

So sad this place wasn't open. On the way to Tupelo. 
I rode her around Dallas quite a bit, and managed to get one long solo trip; in the summer of 2007 I took a week long road trip to Birmingham AL to see The Barber Museum, five floors of motorcycles. I squeezed the trip in before my daughter was born, and I'm glad I did, because things went exactly as I expected them to, and my time became too precious to waste out on the road. The trip to Barber was incredible; it was my first long solo trip on a motorcycle, and I had a great time. I rode the back roads of Texas, Arkansas, and Alabama, camping the first night in a little town in Arkansas called Lake Village. Lake Village contributed many boys to fight the war of Northern aggression, but their proudest day was when Charlie Lindbergh had to make an emergency landing on the local golf course. At least it was what everyone told me when I asked why I should remember Lake Village.

Civil War Memorial, Lake Village AR. 

I camped in Arkansas then bugged out towards Birmingham - but as I once starred in a production of The Glass Menagerie (as the gentleman caller, of course) I thought I should stop a Tennessee Williams' boyhood home in Columbus, MS. I stopped in Columbus for a nice lunch and probably the only tour of the home by a sweaty biker (at least I think so because of the way the old ladies running the museum stared) in the last decade, at least. 

Tennessee Williams' Boyhood Home

After Columbus it was on to Birmingham - where I spent at least 3 hours caught in Birmingham rush hour traffic. Once I made it out, I did make it to the museum and had a great time - especially since the first motorcycle you see at this incredible museum is mine. First one, right off of the elevator. 

In front of the museum - you see the same bike inside.  
Now, even though I live in Texas (or perhaps because I live in Texas) I love a rainy overcast day, and during my three hours at the museum the skies got cloudier and cloudier and my chances of camping out grew smaller and smaller. As you can see in the picture above, there were not a ton of people there that day - in fact, I am pretty sure it was just me and the other guy, who was finishing up his tour as I entered. The coolest thing about the Barber museum, in my opinion, is the track that is behind it. Apparently the racetrack on the museum campus is a world class facility, used for MotoGP and other racing series. On my private overcast day at the museum the track was being used by a Ferrari driving school, and the scream of the engines being put through their paces was incredible as I examined a hundred years worth of motorcycles, including plenty of antiques that are more bicycle than motorcycle. 

I spent my rainy night in a hotel Birmingham, then made my way to Tupelo in the morning. This wasn't my first trip to Tupelo, and aside from the Elvis connection I really do love the town. It's so small and southern it's hard not to like. After the obligatory snaps at Elvis' birthplace and the hardware store where his first guitar came from, I hopped on the Natchez Trace and rode up to visit some guys I was doing business with at a Harley dealership in Lawrenceburg, TN. 

Elvis' boyhood home
Where it all began. 

I really enjoyed the ride up the Natchez Trace, and would love to do it on a bicycle someday; it's a great road with speed limit restrictions and limited entrances and exits, and it was just an incredibly beautiful ride. 

Looking over the Natchez Trace. 
I met with my dealership contacts and spent my last camping night of the trip in nearby David Crockett state park. The state park is the site where Davy Crockett established a powdermill, gristmill, and distillery. When the small industry he created there was washed away by a flood, he went on to politics, got fed up with that (of course) and then to the Alamo. I spent the night in the campground drinking beer with a riverboat pilot who was camping in the spot next door. He was a very nice guy, and despite our different backgrounds we had a great conversation about life, the road, freedom, and family.

After my last night of camping, I made my way to Memphis via backroads and spent the morning kicking around Graceland. I'm not sure if you picked up on this or not, but I'm a bit of an Elvis fan, and in fact this was my third visit to his house. I did the mini tour of Graceland, had lunch with a few other motorcyclists that I had hooked up with on the way in, took some photos, and split to find Sun records. 

In front of Graceland

I found Sun, took my photos there, decided that I was done with riding the backroads and hopped on the superslab to take me home. 

Sun - notice the kid staring at the bike and not the building. 
I was just outside Hope AR and thinking that I would just pin back the throttle and push all the way through to home when the sun started to go down. I wasn't too worried about it, and was actually enjoying the sunset when I saw a deer run out from the growth at the side of the road. He was just a shadowy form, but he couldn't have been much more than 50 yards in front of me, leaping onto the highway, trying to regain his footing, then taking off for the other side of the road. Not being stupid, I decided to pull over in Hope and spend the night, rather than being killed by a deer. Luckily for me, Hope fit right into my theme, as it was the birthplace of President William Jefferson Clinton. 

I pulled the motorcycle into the lobby of the only hotel in Hope, paid for my room, and then became a member at the bar connected to the hotel - my $10 membership fee was good for a year, though I never used it again. I had a long talk about gas prices with a trucker and his wife (who I think was a mail order bride, because her Russian accent was cartoonish), drank a few beers, and ended up turning in so I could leave early and get home. I made a quick stop by Bill Cinton's boyhood home, took a snapshot, and then barreled home to my wife. 

Clinton's home
This isn't the only trip I took with my motorcycle (and these are just the highlights of this trip, it was a great adventure)  - my brother and I went to ROT one year (and I wish that I had photos from that, trust me), my wife and I went and camped at an outlaw club rally one weekend, I ate at Mom's famous pig roast along with a bunch of  Banditos and their prospects, and spent more than my fair share of time talking bikes with other bikers. The bike took me and my wife on many dates, it once helped me to find my lost dog, and it took me all the way up over 100mph on more than one occasion.

I'll miss owning a motorcycle, and I'll miss long trips and all of that, but I think most of all I will miss my early morning grocery runs on Sundays - I do them on bicycles now, but the motorcycle rides to the store in shorts and a T-shirt might be what I will miss the most - the wind in my hair, my pipes quietly burbling as I slip through the cool morning air. I did sell the bike with the provision that if he ever decides to get rid of it, I'm the first call he makes.  Maybe five or ten years from now you'll read another post about this bike. I hope so. 

Adios, baby. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Another Fundraising Check in.

Thanks to a couple of donors, I'm still in the top 3 fundraisers - and very close to my goal. However, I am not all the way there yet, and ask you again to help by donating something - even $5 or $10. Remember that this ride benefits the University of Kansas Cancer center, so it will be a worthwhile (and tax deductible) donation.

Top Ten Fundraisers

Tour de BBQ 2011

  1. Carrie Helfers - $550.00
  2. Craig Henwood - $355.00
  3. Justin Husman - $295.00
  4. Stacey Corrado - $245.00
  5. Benjamin Andrews - $100.00
  6. Michael Alexander - $100.00
  7. Niki Fehling - $70.00
  8. Luke Babb - $50.00
  9. Jonathan Nye - $40.00
  10. Aaron Huffman - $35.00

Proof here.

Stacey Corrado is nipping at my heels, so if you are looking to donate a couple of bucks to a good charity, please help by making your donation HERE. Make sure that you click on the "Sponsor Me" box underneath the graphic to make your donation. 

I will be back with some more stuff soon, but right now I'm blogging about Dallas Renter's Insurance at my "pro" gig, so it may be a day or two before I put something new up. 

In the meantime, please do make your DONATION to fight cancer now. This blog has gotten a lot of new traffic over the past few days because of interest in The World's Rarest Univega and because of a link from Biking in Dallas. I hope some of you have been hanging around and poking into the archive (such as it is) and like what you see. I also hope that some of you will see it in your hearts to make a DONATIONThen when you read my sure to be riveting hundred part account of my Tour De BBQ experience you won't feel so much like an outsider. 

Some things are hard. My ride will probably not be this hard. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

The world's rarest Univega.

About a year ago, I was riding a lot with my neighbor, Chris, and was extolling the virtues of having an old steel framed bike to turn into a singlespeed, beat around on, etc. I had finally talked him into it (of course, offering my mechanical services, as I am wont to do) and I was on the lookout for a nice steel bike for him when I saw an ad for a "Univega Race Bike" on Craigslist. Reading the ad, I got very excited, because it said nothing about the bike other than it said "Univega", "Prestige", and "Ultraleggera" on it, and that it was white. The ad was coupled with a terrible photo taken in a dark garage, and I was the first person who emailed the seller. He was shocked at my response speed and agreed on a meeting time. His asking price was $120 and I didn't try to bargain over the phone at all, which I find pretty rare as a seller, so I assume he appreciated it. When we hooked up to make the exchange, I took one look at the Dura Ace STI levers hanging off of the weird Profile triathlon bars, gave him his money and went on my merry way. I did have to ask why he was selling it so cheap, and he told me his roommate had bought it, rode it a bit, then moved out and left it behind. He had stored it for years, had lost contact with the ex roommate, and decided he'd looked at it for long enough. Incredible.

Unfortunately Chris (my neighbor) didn't end up with this bike as his "beater".
Sorry Dude. 
After letting him down easy, I examined my treasure and immediately found $20 in the seat pouch. Laughing to myself at my rebate, I took the crazy handlebars off and tried to fit a set of drop bars I had in my parts box to the Cinelli stem - only to find that this stem was one of the ones that was larger sized than your standard drop bar. I farted around with cheap bars and shims cut from beer cans - I got plenty drunk making shims, but had no luck with getting my bars to stay in place while I rode until I put some roof flashing in as a shim - but I was not pleased with the result. The bars had a black finish near the stem, but it had been beaten pretty bad during the shimming process, and they looked terrible. This bike deserved much more.
In the midst of trying to fit bars. 
This photo shows the original Flite titanium seat and Dura Ace pedals, both of which have been since removed and sold - bringing the my total out of pocket cost on the bike down to $20, which is really amazing.  I was never satisfied with the stem/handlebar arrangement, as it looked cheap, so while I did ride the bike, it didn't make me happy, and I didn't ride it very often. Finally a set of bars and a stem came up on craigslist that fit and were perfect - a set of 3TTT Anatomic bars with a 3TTT Evol stem. The price? $30 and a drive to Rowlett.

That stem is sexy. 

When I installed the new stem and bars, I went ahead and did a complete tune up on the bike with new cables and a a quick regreasing all the way around. Since making that change, I have ridden a ton of miles on the bike, and I love it more each time I ride it. The bike weighs in at a svelte 20.5 lbs at 58cm, and I'm sure that's mostly because I put a relatively heavy saddle on it - but I love my Selle An-Atomica and would never change it. 

The bike is constructed from Tange Prestige oversize MTB tubing (details here), and is actually fillet brazed, which is a much less used but very fine construction method.

Clean lines at the headtube

There is also a graphic that says "Oversize 858" on the top tube, and I assume that it references the type of tubing, but can't find any reference to it anywhere on the web - except for things that I have written. The only serial number I can find on the frame is a number "50" stamped under the bottom bracket. The dropouts are rare Shimano forged models, both front and rear, with adjusters on the rear. 

Rare Shimano forged drops

The bike was fitted out with the full Shimano Dura Ace 7400 gruppo, including the headset and pedals (though I did get rid of them because I am a speedplay kind of guy), and it is a beautiful, very functional setup. The gears change with a solid "click", and it functions like a Swiss watch. Or, like a Japanese gruppo, if you prefer.  

The brakes even had the protective plastic on the label. 

I have actually been in contact with someone who worked for Univega, and he informed me that this was an exceptionally rare bike - and it makes sense that it would be so. It would be odd for someone to buy the full DA setup and hang it off a "Univega"  - while Univegas were solid bikes, they didn't sponsor racers or teams, and it would be hard to justify putting such a high end racing group on a frame that wasn't a marquee brand, so the frame must have come with the full DA setup. I have manged to find one other Ultraleggera out there on the interwebs, and though he bought his as a frame and headset only, that headset was indeed DA 7400 series. The Dura Ace is what makes me think that it is from 1992 or so - the 8 speed STI setup debuted in 1991, and I assume that the frame was built to showcase the new group.

Artsy shot

I used the bike on my trainer over the winter, and when we had the snow days this year, I spent several hours detailing all of the pieces of the bike, so I know that in addition to being the rarest Univega in the world, it's also the cleanest. 

Downtube - that says "Prestige" 
Unfortunately mine has a few paint chips, most likely because it was in someone's way for 5 years before I bought it - I'm sure it got moved around in the garage plenty before he had had enough and decided to make his $120. While the paint looks white in these photos, up close it is a pearly white with very gentle pink undertones - it reminds me of cherry blossom time in Japan, and I'm sure that was the intention. I'd love to fix the chips, but I think that a hacked together patchjob would make them look worse, not better.

Chips from a frame pump

Here you can see the worst top tube chips

I love rare things; in my life I haven't owned a ton of them, but I do love them. I would certainly qualify this bike as probably the rarest thing that I own. The irony is that while this bike is exceedingly rare, it's not very well known, and as such has little value aside from the components on it. Such is my life. I have cool stuff, but I'm the only one who knows how cool it is. Hopefully this indepth examination will change that.

Not a bad $50 bicycle

If you are reading this because you own a Univega Ultraleggera, please do post in the comments below; I would also ask that you post your serial number if at all possible - you can email it to me if you would prefer. 

This is the bike that I will most likely be riding in the Tour De BBQ this year, though I am giving serious consideration to riding my 1973 International, mostly because the ride is actually on my birthday and the bike is the same age that I am.  The only thing keeping me from doing that is the fact that I'm not entirely sure if I want to rock the 10 speed downtube shifter setup in hilly Kansas City for 60 miles. 

I'll close this with one more plea for you all to DONATE to my fundraising campaign for the tour. I am raising money to fight cancer, and the funds raised go directly to the University of Kansas Cancer Center and will do good things, I'm sure. As of this writing I am 45% to my goal of $500 raised, and I for sure would love to be at 100% before I have to start the ride. I'd like to be at 110 or 120% even more, but I won't get into that until I reach my first goal. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Another reason I am riding to fight cancer.

Despite my seemingly effortless prowess on two wheels, it was not always so. As many of you know, I came back to bicycle riding in my thirties, after I had my daughter. After spending an hour playing with her as an infant (or "infink", as Popeye would say), I realized that I was in terrible shape for a 70 year old - and I was only 34 at the time.

Casting around for a way to get in better shape, I landed on running at first, then moved right past it. To tell a personal secret, I don't even really like to walk, much less run.  Deciding that I should choose a form of exercise that I wouldn't necessarily hate, I ended up on cycling for a couple of reasons; it appealed to my mechanical self, and I thought it might be a nice way to get to know my brother in law Reed Hickok a little better. I started my cycling experience with an old gas-pipe ten speed that I bought off of craigslist (and still have in the attic) and I converted it from stem shifter ten speed to a bike with mustache bars and bar end shifters. Reed was impressed with my mechanical skill, and was amazed that I had done all of the work on the bike myself.

Looking at it now, not too bad. 
After I had ridden this bike for a while and felt like I wasn't going to make a fool of myself, I approached Reed in December of 2008, told him my plan, and asked him to ride the Waco Wild West Century with me in September of 2009. I rode and trained that year, and Reed rode - a lot more than I did. He called me one Saturday and told me that he had ridden a century that day - and that he hoped I was ready to ride in September. He rode the Triple Bypass that year, in fact, and had a pretty respectable time. However, toward the end of the season, Reed was in a peloton and crashed - pretty badly. It would be one thing if that crash had kept him off the bike for the rest of the season, but this was much worse; you see, Reed had a condition called "Gardener's Syndrome". He had a large tumor in his intestines, and somehow the crash either uncovered an infection in the tumor or caused one.

Now, I knew that Reed had been dealing with Gardener's for a while, in fact shortly after my wife and I were married, Reed had to go through chemotherapy to battle the tumors that came with his disease. Gardener's Syndrome comes with an increased risk of cancer, and Reed dealt with all of that with aplomb. Even when he was going through the roughest of treatments he was always gracious and poised, and it all seemed like an inconvenience to him more than anything else, and I always felt like he'd be ok, even after the crash. I knew that he was getting treatments, and I never believed that he would be anything other than fine, so I treated him as I always had, assuming that he would pull through this episode and be just fine.  

Reed's tumor killed him on April 1, 2010. 

Reed Hickok 1964-2010

Those numbers under the picture certainly don't tell Reed's story at all. Reed was Kansas City through and through, and whenever we went to visit him, we were guaranteed a great driving tour of the city, and probably  a meal in a restaurant that only the locals knew about - and I will promise you that whenever we went somewhere to eat, someone would come up to us and say hello. Reed was the kind of person that people wanted to know, and everyone would go out of their way to say hi if they saw him about. Whenever I was with him in KC, I felt like I was hanging out with a celebrity. Reed was very charitably involved, and was a big contributor to Ronald McDonald  house as well as several other charities and foundations. He was also active in the arts, and knew how important it is to support artists, and was in fact a member of an art investors group called "The Collector's Fund" that shared world class art among several private homes. Reed was also a great dad, friend, and family man, and the kind of human being that I will always aspire to be. I am barely touching on the surface of who Reed was, but he was really someone special. I always felt like a goon around him, because he had been such a good friend to my wife, and such a good husband to her sister. As the guy who was married to Reed's sister in law, I was held up to some pretty close scrutiny by the family, and he was a heckuva guy to live up to. My great tragedy? Once I decided that I was really the only one comparing myself to him and coming up short and decided to make an effort to become better friends with him, the time he had left was too short.

I still haven't ridden the Wild West, and I don't know when I will. I chose the Tour De BBQ this year mostly in memory of Reed. Kansas City really is Reed's town, and I would have loved to do this ride with him, because Reed knew good eats, and he really knew Kansas City. I'm very sad that he isn't here to do it with me, because even though he would have made me look slow, he would have made it a lot of fun, and given me a great personalized tour along the way. I'm riding the Tour De BBQ to spend some time with my brother in law, if only in spirit.

Reed's bike at his wake. 
So this post wasn't about some comedian that I enjoyed and that most of you haven't ever heard of; this post is about someone who meant a lot to my family - and to a lot of other people that you will never meet. I'm riding in order to try to prevent the world from losing more people like Reed. Me? I'm just some blogger who can't stick to theme in his blog. Reed? Reed was a guy who made a difference in lots of people's lives, many of whom he never met. And because of cancer, he can no longer make that difference, he had too many years  stolen from him - and from his wife and daughters.

I'll ask you again to DONATE to my fundraising drive today. I know that I'm just shooting to raise a few hundred dollars, but I have to start somewhere, and as you can see, I have reasons for wanting to raise this money. Maybe the ten dollars you donate is the straw that will break the cancer camel's back. 

Please, DONATE today. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Oho! You thought there would be some real content!

Just another fundraising check in - thanks to a couple of generous donors, I land in the top 3.

Top Ten Fundraisers

Tour de BBQ 2011

  1. Carrie Helfers - $550.00
  2. Craig Henwood - $355.00
  3. Justin Husman - $190.00
  4. Benjamin Andrews - $100.00
  5. Michael Alexander - $100.00
  6. Luke Babb - $50.00
  7. Niki Fehling - $50.00
  8. Chad Helmer - $25.00
  9. Titus Fehling - $10.00

This is as of this posting - proof  here.

Thank you to my two largest donors, I appreciate the help. As most of you from the area know, the weather has finally broken, and as such I can see myself riding again soon. My weight is ballooning, because those maple donuts aren't going to eat themselves.

I feel like I haven't ridden in forever - even though it's only been a few weeks. The last time I tried to get in a good ride on my Univega, I had a flat not too many miles in (due to tube blowout) and then my spare tube was rotten, so I blew through all of my co2 on a bad tube and ended up sitting on the side of the road waiting for some good Samaritan to stop by and help. I had one woman stop and tell me that she "only had 3 co2 cartridges" and couldn't spare any.  Thanks for stopping then, lady.  

I finally had someone stop and have what I needed, I fixed my tire, and fled home. Sadly, my planned 50 miler turned into a ten mile ride with about an hour of sitting in between five mile heats. Once home, I hung up my bike and pretty much forgot about bicycling and focused on the heat. 

Now I'm raring to go again, and looking forward to working my body a little tomorrow on the way in to work. 

In the meantime, please DONATE a couple of bucks to my cause. I'd love to be halfway to my goal by the time September rolls around, and if you enjoy my blog, at least throw in $5 or $10.  

I'm thinking that my next post will be an indepth article about my Univega, so look for that soon; it's an exceptionally rare bike, and really something special. 

Thanks again to everyone who has donated so far. 

Or donate, if you haven't. See what I'm doing below. This is from a couple of years ago.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hubbard's Fuji Redux

I'll stop hammering on you to DONATE to my fundraising drive today and tell you a little bit about Hubbard's Fuji S-12. If you click through to the links, you will see that Hub bought this bike for $45 at a thrift shop - and he scooped me on this bike by mere minutes. As I walked in he was standing at the counter with his cash in hand, ready to buy the bike that was supposed to be mine. I cursed him under my breath and walked out, foiled again on a bike I planned to "flip" - at $45 I was looking at making an easy $100 on craigslist after a clean and tune up.

Strangely enough, a few days later I saw the very same bike on a blog that I had been reading regularly. Cursing under my breath again, I offered to help Hubbard learn to repair his own bikes, we met in person not too long after, and have been friends since. I still curse under my breath when I think about him scooping me, but the curses are not as personal - I'm mostly over it. Mostly.

Rat Bastard
As Hubbard and I became better friends, he got to know my more modern bikes with STI shifters - and was impressed. Like me, Hub came back to cycling later in life (though a little later than me...) and was unfamiliar with the modern running gear. I happened to have a set of Sora STI levers that I had installed on my Falcon,  (since removed), and thought that they should end up on Hub's Fuji. I thought that for a couple of reasons; they are 7 speed, which means that he didn't have to buy new wheels (just a 7 speed freewheel), and because the bike was already a Frankenbike, with Huret front derailleur, Shimano rear, Suntour downtube shifters, even a Kinesis aluminum fork. The person that owned this bike before it was donated to the thrift store obviously was into upgrades - so this bike was practically screaming for the new shifters. 

It took a while for Hubbard to get the bike and the parts I needed over to the oven that is my workshop this time of year, and longer for me to acclimate myself to working in approximately 900 degree temperatures. However, the switch is now made, I'm a couple of pounds lighter from sweating, and the FrankenFuji now has a modern 7 speed indexed shifting Shimano totally integrated system. As I expected, the bike rides like a champ, and in this humble blogger's opinion, is a better bike for the conversion. If you have an older bike with a 7 speed freewheel, I'd suggest that you keep your eyes open for a set of levers like these; there were only a few 7 speed STI's made, so they are getting harder and harder to find, but they are a very worthwhile upgrade for an older bicycle, in my opinion. No need to stretch the frame to fit a new set of wheels, just slip a new freewheel on. 

Blurry photo of 7 speed shifters
Finally, the full on bike pron.

Blurry again. Should be mine, blurry or not. 
I'm looking forward to getting Hubbard out on the real roads on this one, and having someone to draft for a change; I generally ride the back roads alone, and he is more of a path guy. Fish gotta swim and bikes gotta ride; I hope that this one gets to fulfill its FrankenFuji purpose.

That's all for now - like Channel 13 I'm going to get back to begging you to DONATE to my cycling related charity with the next post, so be ready. I'm now at $140, and my sincerest thanks to everyone who donated me up to that, but that is only 28% of my goal, so look for more pledge drives in the next few weeks. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Quick check in - fundraising.

So, the story about my favorite comedian moved my readership not a bit, eh? Very well. My next post will be much more personal. I have mentioned the subject here once before, but what is coming should be much more comprehensive.

First, I want to thank the people that have donated so far - I appreciate it. Because of you, I am still in the top 5 as of this posting

Top Ten Fundraisers

Tour de BBQ 2011

  1. Carrie Helfers - $525.00
  2. Craig Henwood - $355.00
  3. Michael Alexander - $100.00
  4. Benjamin Andrews - $100.00
  5. Justin Husman - $90.00
  6. Niki Fehling - $50.00
  7. Chad Helmer - $25.00
Proof here

I wanted to assure you that if you decide to DONATE that you won't be getting spam email - the fundraising isn't done through Livestrong, but instead through eventunited, who hasn't sent me an email yet. if you are not donating because you are worried about spam, then please, donate. Eventunited hasn't spammed anyone who has donated yet, so I think that excuse is removed.

Please, donate something - I'm competitive, and I want to stay in the top five - but also, I want to raise some money; be the pro from Dover who rolls into town, rides the shit out of some miles, eats he hell out of some barbecue, and raises a bunch of money in the process. 

Keep in mind that I don't HAVE to raise this money to ride - I want to raise some money. I am a charitable person, but I've only ever given to things like this, I've never attempted to raise the money. 

Help me (and help cancer research) out. 

Please, sir?