Monthly Archives: October 2011

Riding with the mayor


Fort Worth is fortunate to have a mayor who is an avid cyclist and a strong advocate of two-wheeled transport.

Jim and Mayor Betsy Price

Mayor Betsy Price, who was elected May 14 and took office July 12, led 21 days of bicycle rides in Fort Worth to coincide with the running of this year’s Tour de France. And she has continued to lead rides around the city.
The latest was on Saturday — a 14-mile circuit of Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, a sprawling military complex on the city’s west side. About 70 local cyclists showed up to ride with the mayor and two members of the Air Force Cycling Team.
Most of the ride was along the flight line, past lines of cargo aircraft and jet fighters, and on the 1,200-foot runway, which is long enough to handle the largest military aircraft and a Boeing 747 with a Space Shuttle piggy-backed to its fuselage.

One of our hosts

The Space Shuttle Endeavor stopped at the base Dec. 10-11, 2008, as it was being ferried atop a 747 from Edwards Air Force Base in California back to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida.
The peloton of cyclists on Saturday’s ride around the 1,805-acre base was escorted by a team of military police on ATVs who sped ahead and blocked motorized traffic at each intersection.
After the fast-paced ride on a brisk fall morning, we had a chance to chat with the military personnel who helped stage the ride. They said they hoped it would become an annual event.
We hope so, too. Here’s a salute to Mayor Price and the base’s officers and enlisted men and women for making the first one happen.

Mayor Betsy Price with military police and members of the Air Force Cycling Team

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Trinity Bicycles making a move


Trinity Bicycles, which helped create Fort Worth’s boomlet in urban cycling, is moving downtown, to a space amid the restaurants, bars, hotels and condos of Sundance Square.
Since April 2010, Trinity Bicycles has operated at 207 S. Main St., just south of downtown in a renovated 1909 building that once housed the Sawyer grocery store. Its new address will be 343 Throckmorton St. Trinity’s owner, Bernie Scheffler, said he expects the store to open in January or February, depending on how quickly the 1,550-square-foot space can be refitted.

Bernie Scheffler of Trinity Bicycles

“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to move our business to the heart of downtown Fort Worth, Sundance Square,” Scheffler said Monday in announcing the move. “As Fort Worth’s premier shop for bicycle commuters, a downtown location is an ideal fit for us.”
The Throckmorton Street site, just north of Daddy Jack’s restaurant, is currently vacant. It most recently was occupied by a branch of the now-defunct Washington Mutual Bank.
“Trinity Bicycles adds a perfect niche to Sundance Square’s long list of service merchants,” said Johnny Campbell, president of Sundance Square. “This fulfills a need expressed by our customers who live and work downtown. We believe Trinity Bicycles will quickly become a favorite downtown spot.”
Downtown Fort Worth hasn’t had a bicycle shop since Cromer’s Ace Cycle decamped decades ago to Aledo, west of Fort Worth. It went out of business around 2002.
Trinity Bicycles has made a name for itself by promoting bicycle commuting and focusing on practical, durable bikes for riding to work and running errands — such as Dutch commuter cycles and the Kona Ute cargo bike — or for long-distance touring — like the Surly Long Haul Trucker.
The shop also carries fenders, racks, quality lighting systems, Brooks saddles, rain gear, bike luggage, and all the other accessories you need to travel by bike.
Only two bicycle shops in Texas, Trinity and Mellow Johnny’s in Austin, were fitted with showers for the use of bicycle commuters. Trinity’s current South Main Street location is within a short walk of the T&P Station of the Trinity Railway Express, the commuter line that runs between Fort Worth and Dallas. It’s also on a major bus route into downtown.
Scheffler had hoped that a proposed streetcar line along South Main Street, linking downtown with the Medical District on the Near South Side, would spur residential and retail development around his shop in the semi-industrial, sometimes sleepy section of South Main. But the Fort Worth City Council voted Dec. 7 to kill plans for an inner-city streetcar network.

Scheffler working in the current location of Trinity Bicycles as it was being fitted out in the spring of 2010

Scheffler said the new downtown location will not have showers for commuters — at least for the time being. But he said he hopes to expand the shop’s bicycle rental business for visitors who, in the words of the news release on the move, “want to see the city’s iconic red-brick streets and historic buildings from a slightly different type of saddle than the one Cowtown is known for.”
For any readers not familiar with Fort Worth, historic Sundance Square is a 35-block commercial, residential, entertainment and retail district in the heart of downtown. It’s named after the outlaw Sundance Kid (Harry Longabaugh), who frequented Fort Worth between train robberies at the turn of the 20th century to carouse and gamble with his gang, the Wild Bunch.
Frequently cited as a model of urban redevelopment, Sundance Square is comprised of restaurants, three live theaters, an AMC movie theater, Bass Performance Hall, two museums, three art galleries, numerous retail shops and boutiques, prime office space and upscale residential complexes.

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Giving life to old photos


“A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.”
— American author Eudora Welty, 1909-2001

Jim’s Bike Blog hasn’t getting a lot of my attention of late. For that, my apologies.
My excuse is that I’ve been distracted
by another of my hobbies — photography.

Self-portrait with a Nikon F, circa 1969-1970

During more than four decades as a journalist — including 16 years as a foreign correspondent in Moscow, London, Johannesburg and Nairobi
— I snapped thousands of photographs. Most of them were shot with black-and-white film. Some of them were disseminated by The Associated Press, my employer at the time. Many others were shot simply for my own amusement.
The negatives have lain dormant for more than 40 years in files that I’ve hauled with me in moves around the world. Now that I’m retired, I’ve decided to sift through the negatives to see what I have.
I bought online an inexpensive scanner, an Ion Film2SD. It’s a small, desktop device into which you insert a photo memory card. You feed the filmstrips or slides into a side slot at the bottom of the device and an image pops up on a small screen. If you wish to save the image onto the memory card, simply click the OK button. You can then insert the memory card into a computer and use a photo-editing program to manipulate the images.
The results have been far more satisfactory than I had imagined. The images on many of the black-and-white negatives appeared to be gray and flat, but have been brought to life by manipulating light and contrast. The colors on many of the Kodachrome slides faded over the years, but can be enhanced on the computer. I’ve been using Picasa 3, free from Google, and elements of Adobe Photoshop.

Changing film in Japan, early 1970s

Some of the images have a bit of historical significance, such as those shot on the first Earth Day in New York on April 22, 1970, or during 3 1/2 years in the moribund Soviet Union during the early 1970s. Others, shot on travels to such places as India, Egypt, Japan and Afghanistan, are simply reminders of long-ago adventures. Still others would be of interest only to my immediate family. Many of those I’ve e-mailed to my three far-flung sons.
So far, I’ve made only a small dent in the pile of images. I’ve posted some on my Facebook page and also on Flickr. The Flickr account is linked to this blog, and the images appear on the right-hand side of this page under “Flickr photos.” Clicking on any of the photos will take you to my Flickr home page, where all of the photos can be viewed.
I hope you derive some satisfaction from looking at them. I certainly have by bringing these old negatives back to life and sharing them with others.
As Ansel Adams observed: “The negative is the equivalent of the composer’s score, and the print the performance.”

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Rusty treasures for a few bucks


Don Currie had a problem with hoarding.

Don Currie

The longtime Fort Worth auto parts dealer first took a fancy to Model A Fords and started collecting them. Then he took a shine to bicycles. So he started a collection of classic examplars of two-wheeled transport — thousands of them.
Mr. Currie died earlier this year. His collection lay gathering rust and dust in a storage facility on Fort Worth’s soutwest side. Until today.
Don Currie’s son, Jim, who says he didn’t inherit the collecting gene, staged a sale of the bicycles and automotive memorabilia. It drew bicycle aficianados and collectors from far and wide, including some of my biking friends, who picked up treasures for just a few bucks.
I expect to see some of those bikes restored and back on the road before too long.
Born in Jackson, Miss., in 1943, Don Currie moved to Fort Worth in the early 1950s. He was a 1961 graduate of Polytechnic High School. Jim Currie said his dad owned and operated Woodway Auto Supply in Fort Worth’s Wedgwood area and was a neighborhood fixture for more than 30 years.
“He loved flea markets. He loved garage sales. He loved collecting cars and bikes,” a flyer for the sale said of Don Currie. “You are experiencing the fruit of his work today. Please enjoy your treasure hunt. This is the type of event he would love.”
I’m not very adept at restoring old bikes, so I didn’t buy any. But I took a few pictures. Here are some of them, set up as a slideshow.

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A Texas showcase


Mark your calendars.
The fourth annual Texas Custom Bicycle Show
is being held this year on Oct. 15-16 at the Austin Convention Center at 500 E. Cesar Chavez St. in downtown Austin.
“The bikes get better and better each year,” says friend and neighbor Jeremy Shlachter, owner of Gallus Cycles in Fort Worth.
Gallus Cycles will be among the 23 exhibitors of this year’s Texas Custom Bicycle Show, which began in 2008 at the Superdrome in Frisco, a far-north suburb of Dallas.
Tickets are $5 at the door and good for admission on Saturday and Sunday. One dollar from each ticket sold goes to support the Austin Cycling Association.
“It takes a lot for me to be impressed, and I’m usually my hardest critic,” says Jeremy, who has exhibited all four years at the Texas Custom Bicycle Show. “But I am really looking forward to the show this year because I’m bringing some stunning bikes to show off.”
Jeremy will be exhibiting the stainless randonneur bike that he built for himself for participation in the Paris-Brest-Paris race in August, an all-rounder road bike, a classic mountain bike and what he says is “the most complex bike I have built to date” — a belt-drive fixie.
The diversity of Jeremy’s showpieces reflects the variety of bikes to be on display at the show — road, mountain, city and track bicycles built with such materials as steel, titanium and carbon.
This year’s show also features component and accessory manufacturers homegrown in Texas.

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