Monday, May 9, 2011

The Donut Lover's Guide to Bicycle Commuting: The DiamondSchwinn's Debut

After littering the floor of the welding room with slag and spending time with a variety of brake and shifter bits I had this:


For readers just joining us: the bike you see above is (or rather, was) a 1991 Diamondback Sorrento which is the latest in DIYBIKING.COM's Saved from the Scrapheap series. I thought I'd take an bike that was in bad shape and make it worse/get welding practice by cutting in half and welding it back together with the top tube and bottom tube from separate Schwinns. As I discovered, cutting a bike in half can be very traumatic for the bike.

However, the operation was a complete success. Once I had joined the bike together I set to work on the front shifter that had failed, and in this instance 'set to work' is euphemism for 'replaced the old push-button shifter with an even older one.'


The variable shifter is hooked to the front derailleur and worked like a charm. Considering I rarely use a front derailleur shifter no matter how reliable it is, this seemed like a good option.

You'll also notice I've attached a temporary mount for my Garmin Edge 205 bike GPS. My DiamondSchwinn may look ugly, but it isn't leaving the house without knowing where it's going or how fast it is getting there.

In addition to the derailleur problem, I replaced the shift and brake cables that were worn or rusted through. Since my mountain bike project gave me the skills for that, it wasn't too much of a problem (but I do not own the proper cable cutters, so I was forced to use tin snips with varying degrees of success).


I know that the cables are pretty but the welds are rather ugly. When I carried the DiamonSchwinn up the stairs, I could hear slag that had made its way into the top tube rattling around.

I did have faith in what I made. So much so that I decided to ride it to work. Seven miles round trip can't be faked, and for those of you who know Stamford's roads, there are a lot of bumps which would test the integrity of my work.

Keen to get as much speed out of the bike as possible I attached an aerodynamic top tube bag I bought from  Pacific Swim Bike Run to put some quick fix tools in. The better bike box was reserved for my Day Planner.

And, of course, donuts.

I thought it would be a triumphant ride: Straight through Stamford, up Bedford Street and stopping at the Bedford Street Diner for a couple of donuts before continuing on to the office. I figured that would prove that the DiamondSchwinn had what it took and that I wasn't as terrible at welding as I used to be.

Since I had a long day at work ahead of me I left early. The bumps were rough. The frame was stiff. The stares were frequent. But I rode without incident and made it to the Bedford Street Diner around 6:40. The Bedford Street Diner, which is the home of the best donuts in Stamford I've found so far, is also the home of the 'One Dollar Cone' but now it just said it was the home of the 'One' so I didn't know if they were in the process of changing the sign or were going to host a screening of The Matrix.


But I couldn't puzzle over that (nor was I wondering why the pictured ice cream cone in the sign looks like little mushroom cloud) because I had donuts on my mind. I stepped to the register and made my order.

Unfortunately, I was given bad news: the donuts weren't made yet. Yes, the Bedford Street Diner has a 'donut window' much like the Space Shuttle has when it needs to land.  I was disappointed but I got over it somewhat when I bought a couple of oatmeal raisin cookies instead.

When I left the diner, something else was about to disappoint me: the weather. Rain was starting to trickle out of the sky, so I knew I needed to get to my office fast to avoid an unexpected downpour.

On the rest of Bedford Street, the DiamondSchwinn went fast and surpassed 20 miles an hour in places. I managed to make it to work before the rain really started to come down and rolled the bike into an absent co-workers cubicle before starting my workday, at my desk, with my oatmeal raisin cookies.

At the end of the day, the weather had cleared up and became sunny, so I got ready to ride the DiamondSchwinn home.



The bike was again stared at from some of the motorists, but it was holding together and moving a lot faster than most of them. Some of the bumps and potholes really did make me miss my suspension fork and Cane Creek Thudbuster seatpost on my other bikes, but on this day, I didn't mind.When I got home, I carried the bike into the porch with a smile on my face.

On this day, I learned two important facts: first, the Bedford Street Diner has a donut window, so if you want to get donuts there, try not to do it before quarter to seven in the morning.

Second, I can weld bike frames.

(Follow me on Twitter at @michaelknorris)

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