The following is the hierarchy for Univega in 1978. The serial numbers on these bikes should begin with the letter G.
Children's: (These are aimed at different audiences rather than a hierarchy)
When someone you love is crazy about bikes, it is always a great place to start when it comes to gift buying. So here are some ideas for buying gifts for the bike lover that you love!
The much coveted Brooks saddle. Many riders find that saddle comfort is always an issue and simply give up and ride uncomfortable saddles. Yet, many riders agree that Brooks's saddles are the ultimate in comfort. Brooks's saddles are not cheap, so many riders don't splurge on them, so they can be great as gifts. The B17 is the traditional saddle and really the go to for a gift (for a woman, choose the B17 S). This saddle is for touring/comfort, but there are quite a variety, so check them out if you have the time. This saddle is simply great for any casual rider, tourer, commuter, etc. They also come in a variety of colors to match any bike! If you're loved one is looking to do short races or save weight at every corner, it might not be for him/her.
Hint: Save money by buying them used on ebay!
New bar tape/grips. I featured Fizik bar tape here as one example of a quality bar tape, but bar tape and grips wear and sometimes riders keep putting off replacing them. Buy them some new tape and give their bike a whole new fresh look! They didn't replace it because they didn't want to spoil themselves, not because they didn't want the new tape.
Hint: Changing colors of tape can change the whole look of the bike so choose carefully!
Wine rack. For reasons that I don't entirely understand, bicycling and drinking seem to go hand and hand. This is one of the more popular wine racks, but there are others as well. There are also beer holders and bottle openers. Help your loved one celebrate their alcoholism with any of these gifts.
Hint: Make sure that the bike in question has a horizontal top tube and that the cable doesn't interfere with the rack mounts.
Valve caps! Not quite as fun as spoke beads, but a cheap stocking stuffer that can add a touch of fun to anyone's bike! Again, I am not sure that you want to put a skull and cross bones on the loved one's professional racing bike, but for almost anyone else, these can be fun.
Hint: Remember to make sure that your loved one's bike has Schrader valves and not Presta (they should look like the ones on your car tires, not weird skinny ones).
A bicycling magazine. Well, it doesn't need to be a bicycling magazine, but riders miss their bikes during the winter so anything that will let them enjoy their love for bikes in the off season. A magazine, a book, even a framed picture of their bike.
Hint: If they do ride throughout the winter then just buy them something warm instead because it is brutal out there!
The Gran Turismo was usually Univega's second from the top of the line of their grand touring bikes. It was a triple with 5 and then 6 gears in the back. I have seen a couple for sale from the late 1970s, and may have been the top of the line at the time. I know the 1977 was hi-ten 1024 butted steel, and that they were woefully without any water bottled bosses. They came with suntour barcons, Sakae Randonneur drop bars, Sakae RG cranksets, Suntour SL front derailleurs, Suntour V-GT Luxe rear derailleurs and Dia-Compe center pull brakes and brake levers. Araya aluminum wheels featured Sunshine hubs with 36 spokes. These bikes featured a chromed fork, a head badge, a Selle Italia saddle suede saddle and MKS AR-3 quill pedals, and even came in a mixte. The 1970s bikes are identifiable by serial numbers that start with an A-H and the older style logo with the wide "V". They also seem to lack braze-ons for cable routing and featured safety brake-levers.
I am fairly certain by 1980 (I estimate 1979 to actually be the turn-around) these bikes were definitively second from the top behind the Specialissima. At this point, they were straight-gauge chromoloy frames with a single settle of water bottle bosses and a fluted seat post. The reason I think they may have stepped down to second in the hierarchy at this point is because they were now straight gauged, instead of the V-GT Luxe they now featered V-GT rear derailleurs, and instead of bar-end shifters, they now featured down-tube shifters. Other than that, they were almost exactly the same with the
Though not a major change, I will note that in 1981 (at the very least), Univega made several bikes in a unique orange color
The next major change seems to have been in 1982 when the Gran Turismo got cantilever brakes and upgraded to the Suntour BL (blue line) front and rear derailleur. Additionally, a second set of water bottle bosses were added along with rear-rack braze-ons. This year also seems to feature a wonderful brazed-on slap guard. At this point the frame was double-butted as well.
By 1987 the Gran Turismo was replaced by the Gran Touring and was no longer manufactured in Japan, but instead in Taiwan.
Understanding steel tubing can be a real mystery challenge. A secret decoder ring would really go a long way in this matter. Until someone is kind enough to manufacture that specific cracker jack prize, let me do my best.
To start, you need to determine the tubing of your bike. Usually bikes will have stickers on the seat tube that indicate its tubing. When these are absent, you can sometimes guess based on the weight of the bike.
Unlabeled tubes: Usually these are made of a mild steel that is very low quality and hence very thick and heavy. It could be the case though that the sticker was removed/painted over though, so this is not necessarily the case.
High tensile steel (hi-ten steel): This is the lowest quality steel, and so manufacturers generally make up for its low quality by making its tubing particularly thick. This makes for a heavy bike. Often time people use the derogatory term "gas pipe tubing" in order to indicate its low quality and heavy weight.
High carbon tubing: These are a step up from hi-ten steel, but are still relatively low quality. They include Columbus Aelle, Reynolds 500, and Valite. I have little experience with riding or even seeing these tubes.
Steel alloy tubing: These are the next step up in tube quality and include Reynolds 853, True temper OX Platinum, and Columbus Foco.
Chromium-molybdenum steel (chromoloy or Cromo/CrMo): This is the term for a variety of lighter steels that have the numerical designation of 4130. Generally, these are the highest quality steel frames. Reynolds, Columbus, Dedacciai, and True Temper all make chromoloy tubing, but higher quality tubes are made by Ritchey, Tange, and Ishiwata.
Be aware, that many companies now try to disguise the quality of their tubing by giving it a clever name. Do your research and google the name to determine if it is quality or just a clever name for hi-ten steel.
Another important detail often found on the frame sticker is how much of the bike is comprised of Chromoloy. Sometimes, the sticker will read "three main tubes" or something similar that shows that the fork is actually hi-ten along with the chain stays etc. This doesn't make the bike bad, but it is important to be aware of the true nature of your frame.
The final consideration is the butting of the tubes. Butting simply means that one of the tube is made thicker than the rest of the tube. Or, to be more precise, the entire tube is made thinner, except at one end. This allows the bike to be both lighter and more comfortable (as it is more flexible). Usually only the main frame tubes are butted. Additionally, some bikes are double, triple, or even quadruple butted. This of course saves more and more weight and makes the bike increasingly more flexible/comfortable.
In general vintage road bikes can be grouped into three types: racing, touring, and sport. I'm not counting track bikes because they are meant for tracks, and I'm not counting upright bikes as they clearly different
A racing bike is one specifically meant for speed, responsiveness, performance, and short periods of time in the saddle. To attain maximum speed, racing bikes are light and have a geometry that lends itself to speed. This often translates into lightweight frames that are butted, components made of lightweight alloys (remember we're talking vintage bikes), and smaller more compact frames that lack the frills of eyelets and excessive braze-ons. Unlike touring bikes, racing bikes have fewer gearing options and a saddle meant less for comfort and more for putting the rider into a powerful riding position. This means that there is a double in the front and a narrow selection of gears in the rear cassette.
A "sport" bike is just that; a bicycle meant for sport. It is a casual bicycle for someone to ride for exercise. It has a more comfortable geometry than a racing bike and is generally made with lower-end components and cheaper tubing. Often a single eyelet can be found on the rear stays. These bikes are generally the most affordable and are often converted to the purpose of commuting.
The touring road bikes are aimed at people who are more interested in taking long trips on their bikes. Often these are pictured with a couple crisscrossing the country on their bikes, which are fully loaded with their gear. Touring bikes have a more relaxed frame geometry with more flexible tubes for a comfortable ride (even if it generates slightly less power). Their frames are also sometimes longer to avoid conflicts between luggage and pedaling. Often the wheels have more spokes to support more weight, and these bikes usually come with a greater number of braze-ons so as to accommodate racks, panniers, fenders, etc. Additionally, the saddles are shaped a bit differently in order to provide greater comfort on a longer ride and sometimes the handlebars are shaped differently for increased hand comfort and position variety. These bikes are generally equipped with a triple in the front and a wide range of gears in the freewheel/cassette so that the rider can tackle a wide variety of terrains.
What is toe overlap? Toe overlap is when a rider's feet are at 3 o'clock and he turns his handlebars, and the back of the tire hits the front of his foot. This is more of a challenge with bikes that are shorter and more compact in length. Generally, on an upright city bike this is more of a problem because riders make more sharp turns, and so must turn their front tire more drastically. Yet, even on a road bike this can be a problem. This problem can also be exacerbated if you have fenders on the bike.
Unlike many issues on bikes, there is no adjusting things to get rid of this problem. This is simply something that must be dealt with (other than getting a different frame or removing your fenders). Instead, a rider must learn to cope with this and alter his technique. This means keeping the pedals in an up and down position when turning. This takes some getting used to, but it is also really the only way to cope with this problem.
Most people start biking on bikes that have flat handlebars. Because of this, when we get on our first road bike, we try to ride the "tops" (see top right picture below) of the drop bars and look to have our hands on the brake levers while we do it.
However, when riding the tops one can't reach the brake levers, and it can send a new road bike rider into a place of fear and uncertainty. During the bike boom of the early 1970s, many new riders were on bikes that they didn't quite fit correctly and so "safety levers" were introduced as a secondary method of braking. These were essentially bent pieces of metal that facilitated braking from the tops of the drop bars.
These are convenient and perhaps do add a level of safety to riding with drop bars, but they also have developed a bad rap. There are stories of some braking leading them to be nicknamed "lawsuit bars" or "suicide bars". They also have the derogatory nickname of "turkey wing brakes" because of their physical appearance. Whether they are unsafe or not, they have become indicative of lower-end bikes. For this reason, when I am looking at a photo of a bike for sale, I almost always skip over bikes that have safety levers. This is not to say that a bike with safety levers is no good. Flower's Univega Viva Touring is equipped with them and yet it is a light-weight chromoloy touring frame with cantilever brakes. My Panasonics both had them, but also had double-butted chromoloy frames.
Eventually, this technology was improved and decent/safe ones exist. However, today bikes are instead often equipped with interrupter brakes, which are small brakes that look like they belong on flat bars. The brake cable is fed from the aero levers through the interrupter levers to the brakes.
To talk about a "fixie" in cycling circles is to invoke an emotional response. To talk about a "fixie" in certain social circles is to invoke an emotional response. To talk about a "fixie" in almost any other circle is to raise eyebrows of confusion and elicit an "eh?".
At its core a fixie is a fixed gear bike. Once upon a time all bikes were fixed. This means that the rear wheel is fixed to the cog that the chain sits upon. Eventually, this became replaced by the freewheel. Freewheels only spin in one direction. This makes it so that when you pedal forward, it propels the bicycle. But when you pedal backwards, nothing happens. With a fixed gear bicycle, pedaling backwards propels the bicycle backwards (were one to have better balance than I have!). Of course if the bicycle is in forward motion, and one resists the forward momentum, then the bike slows. The two major effects of this is that one must always pedal when riding a fixie (there is no coasting) and one has very little need for brakes (especially the back one) because one can simply slow the bike by resisting the forward momentum.
For those outside of bicycling, this probably warranted little more than an "oh." Perhaps even a "that's weird." So the next question is "why all of the emotional reactions?" The answer to this revolves around an urban subculture. The members of this subculture, sometimes called "hipsters" (rarely in a flattering way) are the main riders of fixies. The riding of fixed geared bikes became popular with bike messengers who were looking to gain control of their bikes in the tight urban environment of big cities. The fixed gear bikes also offered them simple bikes that were easy to maintain.
So how did a bunch of hipsters end up with these bikes? This I cannot entirely answer. Trends spread, especially in urban environments and within subcultures. For whatever reason, fixies have become popular in the this subculture and even beyond. Not only do people ride fixed gear bikes, but they make them fashion statements. They are often repainted or powder coated bright colors or a matte black. In contrast various components are often bright loud colors. It is not uncommon to see brightly colored cranks, handlebars, chains, wheels, saddles, and more. These make for wonderful simplistic works of art. However, this of course augments the notion that these riders are more interested in making a fashion statement than riding a fixed gear bike.
Fixies also lend themselves to stunt riding (riding backwards, skid stopping, etc.) and can have a bit of a learning curve for new riders. This leads to the occasional blunder as riders fail an attempt at a "cool" trick or forget themselves and attempt to coast at an inopportune time. This of course garners annoyance and subsequent ridicule from drivers and pedestrians (not to mention other riders). Hence the emotional reactions begin. Many bicycle enthusiasts see fixie riders as wannabe hipsters who just want to ride (or perhaps just own a bike) to be cool and hence degrade the hobby that the enthusiasts love so dearly.
Those who resent fixie riders for social reasons are usually part of the same subculture or one in close contact with it. Part of this subculture is the need to constantly be original and differentiate oneself, and of course conforming to fixie riding is grounds for sanctions as a conformist. Of course those who aren't part of the subculture probably see it as a badge for that subculture and may resent fixie riders for the same reason.
While there are a couple of waves of biking popularity in history, the "bike boom" really refers to the explosion of 10 speed adult bikes with derailleur drive-trains from about 1965-1975. The wave of popularity peaked in the early to mid 1970s.
Before the bike boom, in the 20th century, bicycles were generally seen as kids toys. With the boom this all changed. The cause of the boom was a convergence of baby boomers becoming adults who were looking for bikes for recreation and exercise and an increased environmental awareness. There is also contention over whether the 1974 oil crisis was a factor, however the boom was in decline by this point, so while it may have prevented the boom from ending earlier, it seems not to have been a cause.
At first bicycle companies were overwhelmed by demand. English and French companies ruled the American roads. Companies like Raleigh and Peugeot produced bicycles that Americans flocked to. Japanese companies were making quality bicycles at the time, but they didn't understand the American market. Because of the incredible struggles Japan faced during and after World War II, many Japanese people were considerably smaller than Americans of the time.
Eventually, with the help of the Boston importer Eugene Ritvo, one Japanese model started making inroads in the American market. He helped Fuji to realize the size and weight difference of the average Japanese rider and American rider, and they started building larger stronger bikes. With the Fuji S-10-S, Japan started to take American road bicycling by storm.
Like what Japan later did to the American automotive market, the Japanese bicycle manufacturers built better more reliable bikes than the Europeans were making. While most European bikes were still cottered and used weak cotton tires, Japanese bikes were cotterless with new stronger nylon tires. Additionally, the S-10-S came with a leather seat, aluminum wheels, and aluminum handlebars. Japanese brands started to dominate the market and continued to do so until the late 80s when the dollar dropped in value and Japanese bikes became too expensive for Americans. At this point (about 1987)manufacturing was moved to Taiwan where labor and production was much cheaper.
These Japanese bikes are some of the best from the era (with perhaps the exception of high end European bikes). While all brands had entry level models as well as high end models, the following is a list of Japanese brands from the era.
American Eagle (Became Nishiki) **Bianchi (This is an Italian brand, but some models were made in Japan in the late 80s) *Bridgestone *Centurion Diamondback ***Fuji *C. Itoh (A Bridgestone name) Kabuki Kuwahara *Lotus Maruishi Matsushita (Panasonic's Japanese mother company) Mikado **Miyata **Nishiki **Panasonic (Matsushita's bicycle company. It also made bikes for some other companies including Schwinn. Schwinn's "world" bikes and Le Tour model) **Peugeot (These are French bikes, but some Peugeot mountain bikes were made in Japan in the mid to late 1980s) **Puch (This is an Austrian model, but some were made in Japan) **Raleigh (This is a British brand, but during the 1970s, some models were made in Japan) Rampar (Subsidiary of Raleigh, some of which were made in Japan in the 1970s) *Royce Union Soma ***Schwinn (Panasonic and Bridgestone both produced bikes for Schwinn) Sekine ***Shogun ***Specialized Suteki **Takara Terry (Some were made in Japan) ***Univega (Starting in the early 1970s up until about 1986, these frames were made by Miyata in Japan. After this, they moved production to Taiwan).
The asterisks indicate how often I see these in the Boston area
* I see one around every once in a while ** I see them around from time to time *** Throw a stone; you just hit one!
I've been nervous to commute on a road bike that I love throughout the winter. If I rode a multi-speed bike, I'd need to lock it to the bike rack and leave it to the mercy of the heathen students, or I'd need to luck it up two flights of stairs. I also had to deal with large black streaks on my pant legs. Because of this, I'd been riding my Jamis Beatnik, but its incessant clicking and the poor fit of the fenders on it drove me crazy. I also worried about it not being the best choice for icy and snowy roads. With this in mind, I starting hunting for a vintage mountain bike that I could do a drop bar conversion on and leave out in the jungle...that is, the bike rack. I finally found a worthy candidate with this inexpensive 1990ish Specialized Crossroads Cruz. While it is more a hybrid than a mountain bike, it had a triple in the front, mountain bike derailleurs and tires, and cantilever brakes, so I knew it'd be perfect for the job.
I took it home, road around the block, and reveled in my mountain bike glory by popping little wheelies on and off of a couple curbs. I hadn't ridden a mountain bike since middle school, and it was the last type of bike I'd ridden before my decade bicycle hiatus. I found it to be heavy and sluggish, but I didn't much mind, it was kind of fun. I rode it to school, locked it to the rack, and road it home.
Of course on the way home I flipped over the handlebars and landed on my face. That's right, after a year of riding road bikes, my first fall came off a slow moving mountain bike on my daily commute. When I tell people that I fell off my bike, they always ask how, and the truth is that I'm just not really sure. Maybe I just didn't notice, or maybe the smack in the face knocked it out of my mush of a brain, but I simply don't know for sure.
I know that I remember hitting my face on the cement and everything hurting. I remember desperately trying to get up before anyone could notice, but a lady in a van came around the corner and asked if I was ok. I want to describe her as a "nice lady" who asked me if I was ok, but for some reason the way I remember it she seemed less compassionate and more like she was implying that I was a moron. Maybe that was because of my humiliation or my head injury or maybe she saw what happened and knows something that I don't. But one way or another, I claimed I was fine and fumbled back up off the ground.
I tried to get back on my bike, but I quickly realized that the cantilever brake was jammed under the rim (the cause or the effect of the accident?). I tried to wrestle with it,but ultimately had to remove the wheel to fix it. I then started to pedal as quickly as possible towards home. At this point I noticed my handlebars were bent too. That certainly cemented my decision to convert to the drop bars. I ached with pain as I pedaled the flat tired lead Flinstone-mobile home. As I rode each wound took its turn aching. I could see out of the corner of my eye that I'd torn up my cheek (and the visor of my helmet). My teeth ached. The inside of my knees ached. My wrists ached. Everything was hazy. I hurried home.
After a day of being a bit muddled in my mind, I finally was clear-headed. At the insistence of my special-lady friend, I'd applied ice to many of my wounds, and it really helped the swelling to subside. But at this point, the back pain set-in. In fact, everything felt better, but my back suddenly ached. Moreover, so did my teeth. Immediately after the accident I thought my mouth was full of blood, but after I spit, there was no blood in it. I tried wiggling my teeth, but they weren't loose. What could possibly be the problem? Well according to the dentist I most likely cracked one of them. This of course didn't show up on the x-rays which made me feel insecure and unsure about myself. But with a week having gone by, I am fairly certain it must be a crack.. The treatment? A root-canal :(
I was so entranced with how fun cyclocross looks that I really thought it would be cool to give it a shot. Granted a race looks way too scary, but puttering about on and off the road looks fun. I really just wanted to roll onto a race course after the race is over and ride it a couple times. Regardless, I was painfully aware that I was deficient in a cyclocross bike. This of course could be a good excuse to go out and purchase another bike, but I am a bit inundated with bicycles, so I have to make do with what I have.
Cyclocross began as a way for riders to stay in shape during the off season, so the first cyclocross racers rode road bicycles with knobbier wheels. Over time bicycle manufacturers began to make cyclocross specific bikes. Of course these do not come cheap. Nashbar offers a clearance cyclocross bike for $399 and this was by far the cheapest bike I found. In reality, $600 is more of the starting point for a cyclocross bicycle. Seems like a lot of money for a bike that I don't know anything about and will most likely ride once, find really hard, and give up on.
So what does a cyclocross bike need to be?
1. Small and light - they need to be lifted and mounted and dismounted easily.
2. Thin knobby tires - they should be thin enough to race on, but knobby enough to survive some off-road excitement
3. Wide tire clearance - mud needs to be able to move easily under the fork and seatpost stays.
4. Cantilever brakes - again, mud needs to be able move under the brakes, so cantilever (and now disc brakes) are a must
5. Cable housing on top of the top tube - So that the cables don't interfere with the lifting of the bike and to keep them out of the mud as much as possible.
6. STI or bar-end shifters - I'm sure this is a good reason other than convenience....I'm sure...
7. Drop bars - because straight bars are for amateurs
Well, I knew I only had two bikes with cantilever brakes so that would largely narrow down my choice for what bike I could convert to a cyclocross bike. It was between my new Univega Specialissima and my Univega Gran Touring. I really though the Miyata 914 would be an excellent choice as it is already equipped with STI and is a smaller triple-butted frame. Unfortunately, it has caliper brakes and barely any clearance. It also already has 700c tires making it impossible to put smaller tires on it to increase the tire clearance.
I just got my Specialissima, and it is my dream bike, so I would never risk its life. So it all fell on the shoulders of the Gran Touring. I went out to the garage and looked at it. It is small (but still fits me) light (triple-butted), equipped with cantilever brakes, and has large tire clearance even with its larger 27" tires. I also don't think it is the most beautiful bike, so I wouldn't be heart-broken if it got scratched a bit. So now it just needs two things: cyclocross tires and STI shifters.....oh, Miyata 914! I'm coming to get you!!!
When I asked one of my students what type of bike he has, he told me a Shimano. While I have heard that Shimano made bikes at some point in the past, I was certain that my student didn't have one. Instead he probably had a bike that had a Shimano sticker on it because it had Shimano derailleurs on it. I tried to explain to him that almost all bikes come with Shimano stickers now. This got me thinking about Suntour. So many of my vintage bikes have Suntour components, and I really like them. So whatever happened to good old Suntour?
It seems that Suntour hit is peak in the late 70s and early 80s. It made some great components and sold them at a reasonable rate. Ironically, this business plan may have lead to its reputation being tarnished and people assuming their products were low-end.
I think there is an ongoing argument about whether Suntour or Shimano made the better components in the 80s, but by the 90 Suntour was clearly failing. From what I can tell, come the mid-80s, Suntour was skimping on R&D and the devaluing of the Yen (which crushed many Japanese bike brands) also hit Suntour hard. Of course this hit Shimano hard, too but Suntour's reluctance to transfer manufacturing to cheaper Taiwan and their limited funding of R&D were to cost them dearly.
Then it all came down to indexed shifting. In 1985 Shimano introduced the Shimano Indexed Shifting (SIS). By the time Suntour released their answer to SIS (the Accushift), Shimano could afford to insist that manufacturers outfit their bicycles with complete SIS systems. Suntour, desperate for orders at this point, couldn't afford to make such stringent requirements. As a result manufacturers mixed Accushift components with others which hindered their correct performance. This caused further criticism of Suntour's Accushift system and eventually led to the company's fall. It seems unlikely that any of my students will ever mistakenly think they ride a Suntour.
The Beatnik has started to click. At the five o'clock position each revolution, the bike clicks. It is so incredibly annoying. Mike's Club Fuji used had a clicking problem at one point. We read online that it was probably a loose crank arm. We tightened his crank arm, and viole! The clicking was gone.
So when my Beatnik started clicking I suspected the same problem. I tightened the crank....and....nothing. So I removed it and greased it....and....click, click, click. I tried changing pedals and...click, click, click. I tried to remove the bottom bracket, but couldn't get it open. I didn't have the tools, so I put the crank back on. Then I tried flipping the rear hub: converting it from fixie to single freewheel. I started riding and then....no clicking! It was great...for ten minutes. Then, a double click started. I have since sunk into a deep depression :(
Drivers can be monsters. It certainly isn't all drivers, and many are actually quite nice and let me go at intersections even though it isn't my turn. Nevertheless, I have developed an intense defensiveness towards the cars that go by me on the road. It isn't about their driving, though I am sometimes a bit frightened when a car zips by and shows no regard for my space on the road. What really upsets me and makes me paranoid are the obscene things people yell out the window at me. The heckling drives me crazy.
Whether they're making assertions about my sexuality or sarcastically telling me that they like my bike or helmet it all makes me go into a rage. I have made it a personal mission to ride them down and yell things back at them, but usually they speed by thinking they're cool because they yelled something as they drove by. It all peeked the other day when someone threw a can of "Monster" energy drink at me. How insulting. An energy drink? I suppose I can't blame them for tossing that canned vomit out the window, but how stereotypically trashy to be drinking that crap.
Anyways, why do drivers feel the need to yell out the window at riders? It seems to be their natural bullying tendencies. Much like the internet, drivers can anonymously pick on people who can't do anything about it. Riding late at night does sometimes save me because there is less traffic on the road, however it also sometimes leads to crazy late night drivers yelling at me. I realize it is nothing serious or personal, but it drives me crazy, and I am counting down the days until I yell something back and get in a fist fight with a pick-up driving redneck from Norton.....while wearing lycra.
When I ride, I often encounter random wildlife. This is especially true at night. Just last night I saw a mystery animal crossing the road. I was pretty certain it was a cat, while my brother thought maybe it was a raccoon. The very fact that we couldn't tell which one it was, helps to illustrate another point. At night it can be quite challenging to see and avoid animals.
I also saw a deer grazing in the field on our ride last night. However, last fall, I saw a deer directly in the center of the road one day. That certainly caused me to slam the brakes on! I have seen a spattering of deer on my rides, during both day and night. I think what I see most often are cats. During both the day and night I see them roaming the streets, though more often at night. However, what the night really brings out that the day thankfully lacks is a legion of meandering skunks. This is another animal that I saw on my ride last night. Slowly crossing the street right across my lane. I gave it a wide birth: a very wide birth.
Perhaps the most fun animal I see on my trips are the occasional flock of turkeys. These are fun! And far less frightening than the bats, skunks, and raccoons, from which I only have a bell to defend myself.
So finding the wildlife can be fun or frightening, but they are certainly a fact of riding....especially in Norton and Rehoboth.
As I went for a ride today, I decided to add a couple miles by extending it into Rehoboth. Rehoboth, which is a little behind the times, seems to have chosen to save taxpayer money by not having any streetlights whatsoever. It was a treacherous ride deeper and deeper into darkness. I desperately sought my turn unable to differentiate a driveway from a road and certainly unable to read the street signs. I occasionally tried to peer at the map on my cell phone, but it was so blindingly bright in the dark that it made me totally lose my bearings. Luckily, I squinted my way into finding my turn, pulled over, and cross-referenced it with my cell phone map. As I traveled back towards Attleboro, I realized that the side streets were somehow darker than the pitch dark main streets.
Eventually I saw a very bright light off in the distance. I thought it was a headlight, but it wasn't getting any closer. Then I realized it was just an incredibly bright lamp post that a house had in its front yard. What a relief! I could see for a few seconds! I saw up ahead that there was another house with a much fainter light on the side of their house. Now I was quite pleased that I might be able to have several pools of intermittent light to guide me back to Attleboro. My eyes, of course had adjusted to the pitch dark of the ride, and they darted all over the road as I tried to see anything and everything that I could. After all I didn't want to hit a pot hole (if you've ever done this, you totally understand why) and I wanted to ensure that I stayed on the road.
As I approached the second light I thought I saw a shadow move out of the corner of my eye. I looked closer as I started to approach it, and realized that it was something moving quite rapidly towards me in the dark! A black shadow moving in the shadows rapidly right towards me. A shock of fear ran through me as I realized that this was most likely a dog charging me. I also couldn't help but notice that I saw no fence whatsoever. I sped up, only to hear a fierce barking up ahead of me from the same yard as the black shadow, but a different location. At this point I blurted it out.
"HOLY CHRIST ALMIGHTY!"
I now had two very angry-sounding dogs charging me. I quickly tried to determine how fast a dog could run and how fast I could bike. Even with my many years of training dogs and my careful monitoring of my bike rides and their speeds, I only knew that dogs ran really fast, I biked relatively slowly, and that I had the fear of the devil in me. I biked as fast as I possibly could. I realized that perhaps there was an invisible fence, or perhaps the dogs just wanted to protect their property and wouldn't follow me, but I pedaled as fast as I could and looked over my should to see if I'd see the black shadows gaining on me. Each time I saw....blackness......pure unadulterated blackness.
Eventually, I came to some lights (thank you Attleboro!) and looked over my shoulder to see if the shadows would transverse the pools of light in their blood thirsty pursuit of me and my precious Univega. At this point I realized that there was little chance that the dogs had decided to stop barking and ride two miles from their home simply to pursue a none-to-fun chew toy of steel on wheels. Nevertheless, I was a bit shaken and decided not to take the extra long trip through Norton and instead head home to the safety of the protection of my own guard dog.