IN A CLASS BY ITSELF
And here's how it all started
My bike collection started with Ol' Boomer. Boomer, the second bike in my life, came to me in 1970 in its original form and was re-born as you see it here in 1996, 47 years after I got my first bike. All I intended to do to Boomer was fix it up a little, but as the project progessed something happened and I became hooked on doing a more thorough job. Read on.
How I acquired Ol' Boomer
Ol' Boomer was in my father-in-law's shed when I first met my wife in 1950. Its history prior to 1950 as well as its manufacturer is lost to time. I was given Ol' Boomer by my Mother-in-law in about 1970. The condition of the bike was deplorable but it worked. Evidence of previous damage was obvious in the rather sloppy weld repair around the tubes at the bottom bracket. In addition, the forks were bent back several inches at the dropouts, and the frame was covered with rust. All I did in 1970 was replace the seat and tires, and straighten the forks by removing a wedge from each blade, and welding them back together again.
How Ol' Boomer was named I rode Ol' Boomer for a few years in the mid 70's, mostly on Sunday evening rides with my Son and Daughter. Our route was a hilly one consisting of a steep, short downhill into a flat section that led to a brutally steep uphill of about a quarter mile in length. After hoofing it up this hill there was a moderate downhill grade of at least a mile which brought us to the final hill within a quarter mile of home. My Son's bike was a silver Schwinn Manta Ray,(no, he wasn't a fat kid or a bully as one popular book on Schwinns describes Manta Ray owners) and my Daughter had a bright, new, yellow, girls 3 speed Schwinn Breeze. In spite of the fact that Ol' Boomer was a shabby wreck I could easily out coast the kids on the long downgrade to the final uphill. My Son made reference one day to my breaking the sound barrier on that long downhill run and Ol' Boomer's name was born.
Ol' Boomer's metamorphosis In 1994 my wife and I began wintering in Florida at an RV and mobile home retirement resort. I soon learned that almost all RV'ers ride bikes. Feeling left out that first year, I was determined to have a bike when we returned the next season. At that time Ol' Boomer had been lanquishing in the loft of my garage along with the kid's Schwinns for some 15 years, but its abandonment was soon to end. In the summer of 1996 I embarked on a refurbishment of the old hulk and got carried away. I stripped the frame and repaired all the dents and sloppy welds. Then my son primed and painted it in dark metallic blue and a pink color that is hard to describe. My son the artist, also worked his magic with a striping brush and added the bikes name on the top bar and some fancy work on the abbreviated fenders and head tube. Not being satisfied with a single speed coaster brake hub I built new wheels and installed a Shimano 3 speed hub. For brakes I mounted calipers front and back. To complete the metamorphosis I installed: a new gel seat, new cruiser bars and grips, a computer, bottle cage, seat tube mounted cable lock, quick release seat tube clamp, alloy side stand, and pedals.
Here's how it turned out The finished bike far exceeded my expectations. Ol' Boomer is a Cadillac among Geo Metros. The ride is smooth, the handling neutral. Everyone who has ridden it has been impressed. I rode it daily during our winters in Florida in 1996, and 1997.
Here we go again, or if 3 speeds are good, 7 are better
In the summer of 1997 I decided to add a few more gears by replacing the Shimano 3 speed hub with a Shimano Nexus 7 speed hub with roller brake and thumb shifter. This modification made a good bike better, in that there are some gear choices between the gears of the previous 3 speed and low gear climbs a little better. The biggest improvement however is in the rear brake. The Shimano roller brake is the best I have ever used. It is smooth and progessive up to the point of lockup. After using the rear roller brake for the past two years I find myself using it most of the time. The brake is not affected in the least while riding in the wet. Another advantage is that maintenance is a thing of the past since the brake is packed with a special waterproof grease. It is so good I am tempted to install a Shimano front wheel roller brake. Shifting the 7 speed is a delight. The dual paddle progessive shift lever is very convenient to use and Shifting can be accomplished while pedaling without reducing pedaling force, although I don't shift under heavy load. Boomer is now a little heavier,(the 7 speed rear wheel weighs 3 pounds more than the 3 speed version), which is somewhat offset by replacing the steel rims with ones made of aluminum alloy.
I use Ol' Boomer in Florida when we ride on rough pavement, gravel roads, or whenever I want to take a leisurely ride around the resort. I prize Ol' Boomer a great deal not only for its present qualities but for the memories associated with many years of riding and owning it.
I hope you enjoyed looking at Ol' Boomer and I welcome your comments.
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