Sunday, November 27, 2011

Making a Stand on Black Friday

I love the day after Thanksgiving. But I don't like Black Friday. Maybe because I don't understand the logic of losing three to six hours of sleep to save $20 on a product while inhaling the body odor of other sleep-deprived, ornery shoppers. I don't know what an hour of my time is worth, but it's worth more than anything I could do or buy at a mall before sunup.

If you were one of those individuals who spent this past Friday amongst the people who carry pepper spray with them when they shop for a flat screen TV, take note: you don't have to do it next year. Instead, you can do any number of things, such as going to Bluff Point State Park. That's where and when I took the picture above.

You also don't have to wait for Small Business Saturday to support a small business. Avoid the nightmarish universe of the big-box store and visit any number of small towns to check out independent shops, such as Niantic Bay Bicycles in Niantic, Connecticut. Run by a very nice husband and wife team, they have, among other cool things, a used Easy Racers tandem recumbent for sale. It didn't leave Niantic with me, but some might-be-useful-someday Yakima chainstraps and cycling socks did.

In addition to going on a peaceful bike ride and buying something at a small business, you can build something bike-related with a parent or relative on Black Friday the Day After Thanksgiving. It's probably far better together time than the line at the cash register in front of a national chain store. Case in point: soon after I got back from 11 blissful miles at Bluff Point, my dad told me he wanted a bike storage solution in his garage, which doubles as his workshop. He wanted something that would allow him to get to the bike easily, didn't involve lifting it and didn't involve leaning it against anything. If we could build something that involved using some of the scrap wood lying around – and in his shop, there's plenty of that – all the better.

It didn't take too long to come up with a solution. The vision was something that would hold the back wheel firmly in place, so to start we took the front wheel off his bike and set it on the workbench. Since the front wheel is the same size as the rear, it was the perfect stand-in to figure out exactly how far apart the pieces of wood needed to be so the wheel would eventually sit comfortably on the floor without rolling anywhere. My dad and I used two different sized pieces of wood to make this stand: a 2' length of 2X10 and several 2X3s of various lengths.

Once I figured out the lengths we needed, my dad cut them to the right size and we fitted them together. It helped to have some long clamps on hand to squeeze the pieces together so we could pound in the metal plates to make everything solid.

Once we had the base of the stand made, I placed the wheel inside (I did that all throughout the build to make sure it would still fit) and thought that the vertical part of the stand needed to cover as much of the back tire as possible. My dad had all of the metal braces we needed, but we also put some long screws in from the bottom to make everything as stiff as possible. Before long, we had this:

At least once during the build, I went around to where his bike was to make sure the rear rack wouldn't interfere with the design. The fears were unfounded, because it worked like a charm. All in all, it was a fun thing for us to do. So if you don't want to wait until the next Black Friday Day After Thanksgiving, you can go on a ride at Bluff Point State Park, support an unknown bike store or other small business, and build a bike stand with a family member anytime.

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