Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hermes

(Twelfth in a series of stories about every bike I've ever owned.)
Those lucky enough to be granted "Friends of the Shop" status at American Cyclery in San Francisco in the late '90s were welcomed to hang out after hours, explore private areas of the store, drink beer and even smoke joints in the repair shop. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time at the shop and had some great times there.

Their basement had a mythical feeling to it. After ducking your head under the "Friends of the Shop Only" sign, you were treated to a visual sea of bikes. The labyrinth of cave-like rooms was filled to overflowing with old and new bikes in every state of repair and disrepair.

One evening while exploring the contents of the basement, which often required climbing or squishing past piles of bikes, I discovered an ancient Dutch ladies cruiser with a dramatic swooping top tube and an aluminum chainguard with HERMES cut into it. I fell in love with it and begged to buy it.

Henry, my friend and mechanic, gave it a tune up and painted it orange for me. It has 28" wheels, features a coaster brake and a tricky 2-speed internal rear hub that uses centrifugal force. As soon as you reach 10 mph, it changes into the harder gear. You do a quick kickback to reset it to the easy gear.

I recently put new tires and a Brooks saddle on it. It's quite a sporty little showboat, so I'll probably ride it on the Tweed Ride on April 1st. If you live in Portland, mark your calendar for this ride! We'll meet at 1pm at Kenilworth Park and ride about twelve flat miles. Ride your prettiest bike and dress to the nines. We'll enjoy a high tea mid-ride and a party at the finish with free beer, a photo booth and live music.

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