Friday, February 21, 2014

Battle scars and Beausage

This June is the Surly's fourth birthday. It's been my only bike for 2 of those 4 years, and in that time it's been chained to every type of available surface in Austin, fallen over, been dropped, shoved into the trunks of cars, run over potholes, jumped curbs, carried passengers, ridden over rocky trails.... to say the least, I have not babied it. It looks it's part - every inch of my bike is covered in the signs of usage. Even sparkling clean, it no longer looks like a shiny new bike.

That got me thinking on the topic of "everyday" bikes and beausage. "Beausage" is a portmanteau to describe the beauty that comes with usage. Everyday bikes don't stay pristine by any stretch of the imagination, but there's nobility in the abuse because these are bikes that have JOBS. These are not the glamorous road-racers or elegant vintage restorations. These are the blue collar factory workers of the bike world and similar to their human counterparts they don't get a lot of glory.

So today is the day we celebrate the bumps and bruises of real life - let's show off some scars.

Up first, this is Aleisha! And this is her bike:

It's an old Roadmaster mountain bike. She's upgraded the tires for the street but that's about it. It's mostly a "for fun" bike right now, though she sometimes rides it to work or where ever else she needs to go. Here are it's scars.

It's got a broken pedal.

A chewed up saddle.

The brakes have the double-distinction of being both rusty, and a bit bent from falling over. Though there's nothing visually wrong, occasionally I'll hear a "KA-THUNK" when she shifts in traffic, especially if she's trying to outrun a car.

And this is her brother, JJ and his sound-bike. It's terrifying and awesome, this bike. Also, REALLY easy to find in a crowd. JJ rides to work (and everywhere else) - I've only seen him drive a car once, and the car belonged to me.

Yes, it has a home-made rack-mounted sound system. Riding behind JJ is always a party.

But seriously, check out that mount. That there is good old fashioned home-grown "That'll work" fabrication. 

And that speaker, held on with that bracket, is mounted to a rack that is attached to the bike with....this. 

A confusing tangle of bungee and god-knows-what-else. Apparently this came to be after the titanium bolt previously attaching the rack to the dropout broke. However, because titanium is harder than a steel drill bit, it's apparently impossible to drill out said bolt at the moment. But because this is an everyday bike, the show must go on and so JJ came up with this as a solution.

It also features a home-made LED lights and even better - they change colors!

This bike also features one of the more insane cockpits I've ever run across - bell and light, sure. But the rubber-band mounted cell phone is just special.

And that brings us to the Surly - my everyday ride. While there are a LOT of pictures of my bike on this blog, they're usually from pretty far away and are not intended to really show off the extent of the abuse I have wrought upon this poor machine. I spent a couple hours yesterday cleaning my bike and found an astonishing array of "injuries." Multiple deep gouges in the paint, a bent spoke on the rear wheel, the tail light has been bashed, the fenders are totally shithoused, one of the shifters is bent, the rear derailleur shows evidence of a number of falls, the kickstand never seemed to end. So, here she is as of this afternoon.

And here are it's injuries.

This happened after the bike fell over in the garage - the front end of the fender bent back on itself 180 degrees. So I just bent it back with a pair of pliers and called it a day.

A small selection of the nearly innumerable scratches.

Your eyes do not deceive you. My shifters are cockeyed. This is the bike's third bell, and I only replaced the prior two when they completely stopped working.

After....whatever happened here, the tail light no longer works. It turns on-ish, then inevitably flickers and turns off. So I have a borrowed tail light mounted on the seatpost until I can replace the rack-mounted one.

Bent, gouged, bashed, and dented, all in one photo. The rear fender came to look like this after a few spills but what really sealed the deal was when another bike hit me square in the rear wheel.

These bikes aren't really beauty queens but to me there are few things better than a bike that actually gets used. And for all their battle scars, these are cherished objects made all the more special by the story created in the process of earning those scars.