Village Bicycle

A friend asked me to build a bike for him for next year, but he didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it. He’s not a close friend, but we’ve known each other for a few years. He’s doing a 4-day fundraising ride in the USA next summer, and his commuter bike, however sturdy, is woefully unsuitable for the ride. As it happens, I’ve been building road bike that may just fit his needs. The original purpose for my bike was to build something—a mechanically sound machine that isn’t terribly expensive—that I can rent out to people via Spinlister, and use the money to fundraise for charity rides that I’m participating in. Now it seems that the bike will serve a slightly different purpose.

The bike starts with a steel frame. I bought this frame on Craigslist for a small amount of money. (I actually had a casual discussion with the owner of the frame about being transgender, and what kind of a bike a woman like myself should ride.) It’s a Steve Bauer Sirocco steel frame from the mid 1990’s. Considering that a used complete 20-year-old Sirocco still costs upwards of $450, I got a great deal. I stripped down all the decal and stickers and sent it to a shop to have it powder coated to a very beautiful off-white colour. In fact, I spent more money on the powder coating than the frame itself.

The next part is to install the components. I had two choices: I can either install “original” parts for the Sirocco for an authentic late-1990’s bike, or I can put in newer and more modern parts. To me, the choice is clear. A downtube shifter is perfectly functional, but no one riding modern bikes would prefer using them over integrated shifters. Especially if you have to ride around downtown Toronto. It’s the same with using a 18- or 20-speed drive train over a traditional 10- or 12-speed.

Think of it this way: a Victorian dress is mostly functional, and may even make me a rather attractive woman, but in the reality, that style of dress just doesn’t fit the needs of modern life. (Not that I wouldn’t mind trying out one of those once in my lifetime.)

So, it’ll have a 18-speed drive drive train using parts that I no longer use after I upgraded my other bike. The parts are still perfectly good; I am just obsessed with upgrades that’s all. The original headset bearings are replaced with sealed bearings. I had no experience with removing headset cups, so I had to take it to BikeChain (a DIY shop at the university), and that itself has been very educational experience for me as well. The ISIS bottom bracket (not original equipment; the last owner upgraded apparently) is also being replaced with a Hollowtech (or similar) bottom bracket. The bike is also getting a new handlebar (my frame didn’t come with it) and saddle, but the stem and seat post will still be original equipment. The frame is powder coated wot  an off-white colour, and it will be accent it with yellow and black. I hope it works out.

Here’s a photo of the frame after I have mostly stripped down everything.

So, if anyone in the Toronto area wants me to build you a road bike, let me know. It’s easy:

  1. You tell me what kind of a bike you want to build
  2. I tell you what parts to buy
  3. you buy the parts
  4. I supply the tools and a few hours of my time
  5. You get your completed bike
  6. You buy me lunch + $100 for my labour of love.

Montréal, again?

Yes, I’m going to Montréal.  Again.  This trip will happen at some point in July.  In fact, there’s quite a lot to says about this.

My reason for going to Montréal this time will be a little bit different: I am participating in a charity bike ride called Friends for Life Bike Rally.  I’m joining a group of 400 riders and volunteers in downtown Toronto on July 24, and over 6 days, we’ll make our way to Montréal, travelling a total distance of more than 600km.  All of this to raise funds and awareness for people coping with HIV/AIDS.  As a transgender woman, over the years, I myself have been acquainted with a number people living with HIV/AIDS, and while I often don’t agree with the decisions they made that led to them contracting the disease, I feel that it’s important to be in solidarity with them, and help with their suffering.

When I first registered for the ride online, I had to write down my gender.  This is the first time in my life that “transwoman” was listed as an option.  At first I was overjoyed: finally, I can sign up for a cycling event as Kate! But then, I remembered that, regrettably, most people I in my circle of friends, and also in the church still don’t know about Kate, and most people who are sponsoring me will probably not do so had they known I was a trans woman.  And even if they would, I feel that this isn’t quite the appropriate time and place to “come out” to my friends.  It was disappointing, but at the end, I listed myself as “male”, and signed up with my male name.  As of this morning, I’ve raised just over $700, but I need to raise $2200 before June 30.

I have to admit that it saddens me to know that—other than a few exceptions, like my wife and a few close friends—most of my friends aren’t ready to deal with transgender issues, let alone knowing that one of their closest friend is transgendered.  In that sense, I decided that I’m still very much in the closet.  And as much as I can live (or at least pretend to live) a normal as a young man, I know that in my heart, I too live on the fringe of society.  Not all transgender people have the luxury that I have.

Interestingly, my friends who would be most offended by a transgender people—and people with AIDS—are devout Christians, and boy, Jesus had a lot to say about how we should show love to them.  Over the past few months, I had been more vocal in discussions about transender issues (another post for another day), and I have noticed that this new knowledge is slightly changing the way their see the Gospel and how transgender issues fits into that.

In any case, training for the ride has already began: a 70km ride last Saturday on my own, and a 63km ride this coming Saturday with other riders on the rally.  I have some hopes that the rides will shave off some weight off my belly, but so far it hasn’t happened yet.