Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Skunk Works

Here are some spy photos from the Skunk Works deep in the bowels of GCC where Luke and Gary weave their magic (well, OK, the pix were taken in my kitchen, but the bike was born at GCC):

This baby is so cool, even the fish want to try it (I guess a woman really does need a man, since these fish need a bicycle).

It's my old 2002 LeMond Zurich in its third incarnation. First it was a heavy but reliable road racer that took more than its share of punishment while I learned the ropes (some of you, if you're mean, will remark that it was in vain). I raced it as a cat 4 and 5 for 3 years.

Next it was a heavy but reliable TT conversion which saw precious little action as I moved up to Cat 2, since time trials don't like me, and the feeling is mutual. I felt bad for the trusty steed, like I had sent it out to pasture or like it was being punished for something it had no power over.

Its final incarnation is as a heavy but reliable fixie, and you can tell it is totally psyched for the job. OK, the pedals and the headset are a work in progress--my aim is to strip off anything black except the fizik saddle and the gatorskin tires, and add as much old school chrome as possible.

The rear hub is pure genius: a White Industries eccentric hub made for use on vertical dropouts,
so you can tension the chain as it stretches or you change gear ratios. And it's beautiful, to boot.

Gary built the wheels with Kswiss rims and White industries hubs with 6mm hex nuts. The stem and bars are the brightest Nitto Cromoly steel you can get--it shines like a pimped St. Louis ghettocruiser. The chrome bar tape is pure over-the-top genius (shouts to Luke who pulled it out of his boneyard).

OK, it has a front brake, but I'm hoping it won't stay for long. I've never been on a track bike before, so I figure it will take some time to figure it all out, and the tire clearance only allows a 700x25, so there's not much rubber to skid off for a quick stop.

Now for all the poser accusations in advance: I raced as a junior for a short while in the 70s, and when Phinney and Carpenter took to the track, I lusted after their track bikes and swore I would have one some day. That day never came because a couple things intervened, like college, marriage, med school, internship, residency, and private practice. Still, my love for track bikes came decades before the current fad.

I don't plan to ride this on the velodrome, since the BB is too low and the cranks too long. Besides, the track is an hour away in light traffic, and I can't even get in time for weekday training rides at home. This baby will be for training and cruisin'. I've been carrying the messenger bag as a briefcase for years; now I have the bike to go with it.

BTW, the Skunk Works is a division of Lockheed Martin that is responsible for a number of famous aircraft designs, including the U-2, the SR-71, the F-117, and the F-22. I think my flyer rates a nod. Shouts to Luke and Gary at the Skunk Works, AKA Granite City Cycles, who did most of the work, not to mention keeping a pretty even temper despite my best efforts to annoy them to death over this project.

DOC'S ADVICE: old racing bikes never die; they just get fixed.


commuter13 said...

Going up and over the alp on a fixie is good stuff!

Nice bike!

Doc said...

Yeah, this one is a 48 x 18, so pounding up the Alp in a 72 inch gear will put me at about 50
rpms. Since I'm kind of allergic to opposing gravity, I'm actually looking forward more to the 30 mph or 160 rpm descent!