Can't believe it took me this long to find (or even look for) a bike forum, not to mention one with so many active users. I sometimes reside in Austin, TX, and other times in Conway, AR.
I've been riding bikes my entire life, learned when I was five or something, but only seriously got into it about 2 years ago. The first bike I bought myself was a Maroon Panasonic DX-2000 at an estate sale ($45) around that time. I bought it for exercise and as a nice alternative to cars during fall. However, like many attempts at developing a physical habit, this faded after a few months and I rode probably once or twice a week, if that.
Fast forward to May of '06, and I found myself pissed off with cars to no end. I received a ticket for speeding on Memorial Day, my first ticket in 4 years. I brought out my bike and began to ride it as much as I could stand it. As summer started, I found myself wasting away and remembered something called the "Austin Yellow Bike Project" that a few of my old friends had talked about, and decided that bicycles might be a way to get me enthusiastic about life again. So, one week night in early June, I walked into a warehouse on our defunct airport and found it filled with hundreds of bicycles, thousands of parts, all "free" to those who donated their time to support the promotion of the project. Needless to say, I soon fell under the spell of bicycles and allowed building, riding, and fantasizing to consume my life.
Over the next 3 months, I received two more speeding tickets; one on the fourth of July and another sometime mid-May. I had wanted to sell my car and rid myself of that lifestyle for at least a year, so I took this as a pretty strong sign that I had been thinking on the right track. I sold my car and began riding my first fixed "conversion". I put conversion in quotes because absolutely nothing on it matched another piece; "frankenbike" might be a better term for it. A teal, mid-80's Schwinn World Sport with a random orange Fuji Fork, Weinmann Rims, Flip-flip Formula Hubs 16t fixed, 17t freewheel. 165mm Bulletproof cranks, 48t unidentified chainring. Random seat tube, head set, stem and handlebars. Logic saddle. Sometimes Iíll put on this nice dual-pivot Shimano 600 brake on it if Iím riding in heavy traffic. A nice fixed to begin with. Spent a bit too much money on it, especially considering a good deal of it was found at Yellow bike.
These days, although Iíve got a car againóan old Dodge Dakotaóitís being used to haul stuff around for the Conway Bike Collective that Iíve started up here. Itís still in its infant stage, but weíve built up about 15 bikes, and given a total of 30 or so away. Lotsa fun stuff. Besides the rest of the community bikes (somewhere around 30-40, and more coming every week) Iíve got 4 personal bikes, and my latest is an ItalVega Nuovo Sport conversionóanother Yellow Bike find. Itís white with the black stripes down the seat tube and has a random front wheel and fender. I carried the stem, seat/seatpost, and rear wheel over from the Schwinn but took some old 3-speed handlebars and flipped them for this one. The original crankset was a cottered steel Nervar set that I had absolutely the most difficult time replacing. Eventually, I found another Nervar set, but these are 170mm, 3-piece aluminum cranks with a...get this: 54 tooth chainring. Iíve had the lectures before, so donít bother unless you can help me find something that fits a long-obsolete French bolt pattern. It took me months to find something that would fit, and I eventually ended up putting a Stronglight spindle in the bottom bracket that gave me the correct chainline. A whole lotta elbow grease and guesstimating has been put into this ItalVega, and it essentially cost me no money.
Future plans for the ItalVega are to build up a pair of red-label Fiamme tubulars (another Yellow Bike find) with the Miche Primato Pista hubs, and somehow figure out what size/threading the bottom bracket is and replace that whole assembly. The bottom bracket has by far been the most difficult thing on the bike to fix.
So yeah, thereís my bike story in a nutshell. I think Iíll be posting mostly in the bicycle mechanics, singlespeed & fixed gear, and classic/vintage forums, so you can find me there.