Happy Anniversary to the Velveteen Rabbit

It hardly seems that long ago, but it was just last Memorial Day that I took what I thought was going to be the last long ride on my old Trek 620 before I sold it. I tentatively dipped my toe into the blogosphere with Velveteen Rabbit post. I could never have predicted that one year, 318 posts and 101,665 page views later I would still be publishing thoughts and photos from Over the Bars in Milwaukee. I still have that old Trek, but even more amazing is that anyone would still want to read about the random ruminations that pop into my head while pedaling around the Cream City.

On the Friday Eve of the one-year anniversary of Over the Bars in Milwaukee, I want to thank all of you.  By reading this, you provide a socially acceptable outlet for my thoughts and keep me from talking to myself on my rides.  I was going to plan an anniversary ride for this weekend, but the weather report does not look favorable.  My ride last year was warm and sunny. I am bone tired of the slop mother nature has been throwing at us this spring. Monday might be nice, and if it is I will join the Ronsta Ramblers for part of their ride when they hit Hoyt Park around 10:30 am and call that my anniversary ride this year. If you are interested in hooking up with me Monday, let me know via comments below.  I will post my plans Monday morning if the weather looks nice.

Velorbis Dannebrog, or…
the Pashley Britannia?

With that, I head to Chicago today with Linsey help her choose a new Pashley Britannia, Velorbis Dannebrog or some other cool bike. I get almost as much pleasure helping someone else buy a cool bike as I do buying one myself.  

We will be hitting as many Dutch and Dannish bike shops as we can this afternoon.  I will of course have my camera with me and I will report on that shopping trip at a later date. 

As far as thoughtful posts, since I am furloughed today, all you get is a rerun.  Thanks again to everyone for reading and especially to those who comment.  I love to hear your thoughts, even if you disagree with me. Here’s to another year!

Memorial Day and the Velveteen Rabbit

1984 Trek 620

The 620 had been the Man’s go-to Sunday ride for the last couple years. The Man bought it after he really quit racing and training and wanted a comfy bike for long weekend rides. The 620 had carried the Man to countless family gatherings at the cottage on Lake Tichigan, to the in-laws home at the RacineKenosha border, to work and back, as well as long slow summer day rides to nowhere in particular, all without a flat or a breakdown.

Sure it had a few scratches and nicks, but the Man had not cleaned or tuned the 620 since last summer, even though the 620 saw the other bikes being taken out for Sunday rides many times this Spring. The 620 could understand, but it seemed the Man had tired of riding his beloved touring bike. So the 620 hung in the basement and waited. The 620 waited in te basement a long time, and as it waited, the air went very low in its tires and it became a bit shabby.

Then a few days ago the Man came down to the basement, pulled the 620 off the hook and put it in the stand. The man cleaned the 620 better than he ever had in the past. He lubed it, pumped up the tires and carried it out to the back yard. So clean and shiny, the 620 was proud to be choosen from a stable of such noble steeds. But more, the 620 was happy to that the Man wanted to ride together again.

But when the Man put the bike outside, he started taking pictures of it. After the Man had taken many photographs of all the parts of the 620, he put it in the dark basement again. The 620 was confused and sad. Then the other bikes told the 620 this means the Man was going to sell it. The 620 would not believe this lie and thought the other bikes were jealous because of the fabulous tune and cleaning it had just gotten.

But days went by and the Man came downstairs to take other bikes out for rides. The 620 hung quietly on the hook and began to believe it was going to be sold.This had happened once before, but only after the other Man had grown too old to ride a bike and his children put the 620 up for sale. But this was different. This Man was still riding other bikes. How could the Man not love it anymore after they shared so many pleasant rides, now just memories?

But it was precisely because this was such a great bike that the Man thought he should sell it. He was not riding the Trek 620 very much lately, and he thought it deserved to go to the home of someone who would give this slightly worn but stout bicycle the attention and appreciation it deserved, as the previous owner who had it before had done for this Man.

So the Man gave it a super cleaning and tune-up and I posted it for sale on Craigslist for $750.

Then came Memorial Day and the Man decided to cycle out out to meet family and friends at the father-in-law’s cottage on Lake Tichigan for swimming, brats, steakhouse potato salad, watermellon and margaritas. The ride was to be about 28 miles on mostly rolling rustic roads. The Man went into the basement to look through the rack of bikes hanging in wait. The custom Waterford called to him “Ride Me, I can take you anywhere.” The flash carbon USPS Trek called out “Ride me, I am faster.” The little folding bike squeaked, “Ride me, I can fit most easily in the car if you want to ride back with your family.” But the recently cleaned up 1984 Trek 620 just sat quiet in the repair stand waiting to be sold.

The Man looked over the many bike hanging from the hooks and suddenly turned to the repari stand, looked at the 620 thought “Maybe I should give this one more ride to make sure everthing works. I haven’t ridden it since last summer and I want to be able to tell any interested buyers that it still rides well. ”

Together for one last ride?

So the Man hauled the surprised 620 outside, hopped on and the two of them headed out the driveway as they had done so many times in the past. The 620 knew the best route and it virtually sung the whole ride. Every shift was smooth, and the fat 28mm tires and long wheelbase smoothed all the bumps. The Man was grinning from ear to ear the whole ride, even though it was 90 degrees and they had a headwind the whole way.

They stopped for lunch in a nice park along the way. As the Man sipped his iced coffee and ate the colld venison steak he had packed, he marveled at the bike leaning against the tree next to him. He was having one of the nicest rides he has had all year on the bike he was planning on selling.

When the Man got to the cottage, his smile muscles were more tired than his leg muscles, and all thoughts of selling the 620 vanished. “This bike is SWEET!” the Man exclaimed. “I love this bike. I can’t sell it,” he said while admiring the now happy 620.

And that is the story of how I fell in love with my Trek 620 all over again today.

When I first got it, I converted the bike to 700c wheels from the original 27 inchers so I could more easily swap wheels, tires and tubes with other bikes in my stable. While I was at it, I built a front wheel with a Shimano generator hub with a Lumotec Oval Plus headlamp. I also added Nitto Noodle handlebars, a Nitto Pearl stem, Planet Bike Cascadia full fenders and a third(clam-on) bottle holder.

This bike has a short 56cm top tube and a 57.5 CtoT seat tube. That geo combined with the long 46cm chainstays and 28mm tires and Nitto cockpit make for an all day sucker kind of ride.

The half-step gearing makes me wonder why anyone would ever want a ten speed cassette. Half-step with a 50-45-26 front chainring combo makes for some of the smoothest shift transitions this side of SRAM Red. Rather than sit in the same front ring and running through your 10 speed rear cassette, half-step shifting allows you to make fine shifts in the front ring. This allows you to find the near perfect gear for mildly rolling terrain without the need of a million chainrings.

About Dave Schlabowske, Deputy Director

Dave was the first full-time staff member hired to open the Bike Fed's Milwaukee office 15 years ago. A former professional photographer and life-long Milwaukee resident, Dave likes wool, long rides, sour beer, and a good polar vortex once in a while.

14 thoughts on “Happy Anniversary to the Velveteen Rabbit

  1. Happy Anniversary to Over the Bars! Thanks for keeping things going, I look forward to many more of your wonderful and insightful posts. Be sure that your efforts are making a difference well beyond Milwaukee. We love you over here in the Driftless Region!

  2. Definitely happy anniversary! I’ve been very much enjoying the blog since I discovered it, and always am looking forward to updates. It’s nice to have the well thought-out posts, information, and well-taken photographs as well. A great combination!

    And on a side note, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one sick of this “spring”. I just thought I was just being “weak” to find frustration with the wind, wet, and cool. Well, mostly just the wind and wet.

  3. Happy Anniversary
    Keep um coming Dave. Your blog has become as much a part of my morning routine as riding to work.

    And I more than second the lousy Spring. Although I’ve really developed a Love/Hate relationship with the wind. Hate it on the way to work and Love it going home.

  4. Happy, happy big A, Dave. Have thoroughly enjoyed your year’s work! Do keep it coming. Especially news about new facilities around town. Thanks for a great year.

  5. Can you list your brake calipers/process of setting up a 700c wheelset on the trek 620?

    am about to spring on a 1984 620 frameset myself, and am super curious about any roadblocks concerning a 700c wheelset (if there are any, even)


    and nice bikes!

    • Chris, I really didn’t have any trouble with the brakes. I kept the original calipers and only had to readjust the pads slightly to accommodate the 700c rims. Go for it and happy touring!

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