Friday, April 17, 2009

Digging Bear and the Schwinn Varsity

A few years back, I was in Montana, down in a dumpster digging through the garbage,..and I heard a pickup truck back up. I looked up to see a native American guy looking down at me. (it happend to be on an indian reservation) "One man's trash is another man's treasure." I said up to him. He just looked down at me, pushed his lips together and nodded. It was sort of a Dances With Wolves moment.

Flash forward to today. I found some bike fenders on Craigslist. The ad said they came off of a Schwinn Varsity years and years ago as when this guy got a new Varsity he took them off because he thought they weren't cool. Like new, never used, ten bucks or best offer. "So you want ten bucks for them?" I asked. "You can look at them and make an offer." the guy said... (like I'm going to offer $7.50 and see if anyone beats it)

It wasn't far from where I live so I drove out there. No one was home but there were the fenders on the front step. This was out in the country. I had an envelope in my car and I put two five dollar bills in it and put it in his door above the door handle and took the fenders. I felt wierd about doing that. (unlike digging in the garbage on an indian reservation, I'm perfectly comfortable doing that...) I couldn't just leave $7.50 without dealing face to face with the guy. That would be just plain cheap of me! So when I got home I called the guy and left a message on his machine that said where I put the money, and if he didn't get it to give me a call.

The reason I was in the dumpster was someone had thrown away a perfectly good Schwinn Varsity bicycle. In my size! Old yes, but not bad enough to just throw away. Even if I didn't really need it, I hate to see that kind of waste. Some bikes aren't worth saving but this one was. It was older than any Varsity I'd ever seen. It even had brazed on down tube shifters. It didn't take much to get it working. I got it all lined out so I could seriously ride it and it's an extra bike for visitors at the lake. It would also be a nice city bike to ride to work or the store when you don't want to leave something expensive out. Now I have NOS chrome fenders for it. Bonus!

One time I as on a 20 mile morning ride with my dumpster Varsity. Not an easy ride BTW. Several big climbs. I noticed a tick tick tick noise developing. A pin on the chain was coming out. I didn't have a chain tool with me so I used a rock to pound it back into place. It worked and I haven't had a problem with it since. Well the Schwinn Varsity is sort of the model T of road bikes. The first mass produced american road racing type bicycle. And this one is an early example. There was a plate on it that said 1963.

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