Here’s a letter I got a couple of days ago.
We live in a small world. I have a request - but I need to explain, so bear with me. My mother is in a nursing home. I visit her every day and in the course of my visits have come to know some of the other residents and I regularly visit with a number of them. I met a new resident in the hall some weeks back and we have been greeting one another and exchanging a few words. I could tell from his skin color that he was a cancer patient, and I have since learned that he is. He is very sick, Stage 4 prostate cancer. Two weeks or so ago I saw him in the hall and he was wearing a MUSA shirt, but he was tired and we didn’t talk. Last week he was riding a recumbent in the parking lot with his son watching - wearing MUSA pants. I asked him about the pants and he told me he was an old Bridgestone fan. He wasn’t feeling well, but as I was walking away his sister rode up to visit on a beautiful RB2 that he had bought for her. Tonight he showed me his trike that he has stashed on the 2nd floor of the nursing home. He rides it for therapy. The short(er) story is that he and most of his family members ride Bridgestones from your era. His name is Nick Cassell, and he has one of each Bridgestone model, I understand he locally raced an RB1. I talked with him tonight. He remains a big fan of yours, back problems have kept him from buying a Riv, he has been on recumbents for some time, but enjoys the MUSA gear and admires the Riv bikes. He said he has chatted with you in the past. I want to get him something for his room and thought a big Riv pennant would be nice. If I buy one will you write a “best wishes …’ or something and sign it? I know he would appreciate it.
Robert C. Barr
The pennant is easy, the pennant—done. What would you do? Can we/you do more? Nick has Stage Four prostate cancer. It has spread around, and there is no Stage Five, and I think thre’s no recovery, which rules out get well cards and “You’re in my prayers.”
What does it not rule out? — from strangers—us here, although we have spoken, it has been years; and you out there. Don’t go away—-in a minute or so I’m going to offer up a good, easy idea that any of you reading this can pull off without a chance of offending, with no awkwardness, with no even dread-of-doing.
I recently finished Mortality, the book Christopher Hitchens wrote while he was dying of esophageal cancer. On page 18, and then 37-43 or so, he gives advice on how to talk to people who are dying of cancer. You will either be that person, or will know people on that bike and will find the tips useful.
I think — rather than think already longer than the already two hours I’ve given this What can we do? question — it comes down to this. Draw a simple bicycle, a one-try/first shot-at-it bicycle. Do it on a Genuine Postcard and use a Genuine Stamp and sign your name and city/state and mail it to:
7001 Hoover Road
Indianapolis, IN 46260 -4169
attn: Nick Cassell
Postcards, he can flip through or put on the wall. Postcards are so great, stamps look so good, and this one’s easy. Nick will know he registers and matters and is being thought about by kind strangers, and that can’t be a bad thing. If you have children, what a good project (this, suggested by a customer whose kids sent him cards),
A customer came by, a 2TT orange Sam-owner, and told me his friend Eek in Thailand wanted bar-end shifters (I wish we could all adopt the Japanese abbreviation BES from now on), so he made them out of wood:
And yes, they work. What other major component could be made of wood and work?
Not an accessory; a component. I am thinking none. OH yes, rims. Many’ve reminded me. Wood rims….wood rim rides?
REMAINDER OF THIS PARAGRAPH IS A VEER-OFF, no need to read. In the late ’70s a friend of mine, a junior racer raced a pinkish orange Masi with wooden rims. He had to monitor his spoke tension with changes in the temperature or humidity, something like that. High maintenance. The benefit was better gluing. Wood doesn’t get hot and melt glue. Wood rims are kind of the silk fly lines of fly fishing. I fished a silk line—a Kingfisher brand from England—in the early ’70s. The good: Skinny, less wind resistance (so better casting), and less water resistance (so less drag, better drifts). The bad: they didn’t float well and got gummy if you didn’t air-dry them on a line-winder after using them for several hours. You had to re-lube them mid-day sometimes. Think that’s a no-hassle joy? I also used gut leaders (non-vegan, actually made from cat guts). I didn’t use them a lot, but enough to have the Gut Leader Experience. The good: This is a stretch, but you tied them with a simple figure-8 knot, the simplest and fastest of all fishing knots, but it works only with gut. The bad: Brittle when dry, had to keep them in a “leader wallet” with moist wool pages, and the breaking strength for 4x leaders was about a pound. I had 6x tippets that tested about half a pound. A 3wt silk line on a chalkstream, OK, but two-pound trout in weed beds and weak thick tippets wasn’t a good combo.
FLASH: I just got a photo of Eek’s wood brake levers. it’s not a prize-winner, the photo, but if you look hard at the lever hoods and try to identify them by contour, you’ll see they’re not anything you’ve seen before. Anyway, they are wood. So there you go.
This is not the cockpit of a tweed rider… and I wonder if “Morgan” is an unusual name in Thailand.
And here is a photo of Sam rider Morgan and wood parts maker Eek:
We’re getting a new rim next year. It’s going to be wild, will make tons of sense.
Please do not forget about Nick Cassell.
More later this week.
———and this just in——-
Broken carbon crank arm. It’s not like this can’t and hasn’t happened to aluminum (although the same could not be said of steel), but the whole thing with carbon is how strong it is, how it makes mere metals seem like ancient toy mud in comparison.
Although, you know…looking it it, it seems that Pollywog Flipper pedal or whatever it is sure has a long lever on it. Well, sometimes things just happen.
Nick Cassell. Postcard. Draw a quick bike and don’t tell him he can beat it. Address is up-post. Let’s get on it!
I just did mine. Maybe I shouldn’t have set such a high bar: