Schwinn Lady

“Cycling has done more to
emancipate women
than anything else in the world.”
Susan B Anthony

gilbertbikeshop

 

My passion for bikes was passed onto my son. A decade ago, I owned a bright orange Mongoose Mountain bike and my son had his first dream bike he hand-picked from numerous models, a Maverick 18-speed mountain bike, his pride and joy.

When my son went off to college, although he had outgrown the Maverick bike, he wouldn’t part with it and brought it with him to his university. He was heartbroken when it was stolen. I helped him buy another bike which was subsequently stolen. Instead of purchasing another new bike, I gave him my Mongoose Mountain bike to use. Luckily this bike wasn’t stolen but by the time I got this bike back it was trashed from him riding it hard on mountain trails.

I decided it was time to get myself a new bike. I thought long and hard about what kind of bike I wanted and I remembered how much as a kid I loved riding my Schwinn Sting Ray.  So began my quest for a Schwinn Sting Ray bike.

My first place to look was Craigslist, but I soon discovered how expensive and how desirable these bikes had become. Craigslist led me to eBay, at which point I learned that a great deal of these bikes where halfway across the country. All I wanted was to find an inexpensive bike that I didn’t have to ship to California from Omaha.

After several days looking on eBay, I discovered eBay Classified, and found a bike located 75 miles from me out in Acton, California.

1969 Schwinn My Fair LadyWhen I first saw the photo of the bike, I knew instantly the bike was vintage. The funny thing was, it was the spitting image of my bike from the 1960s. After speaking with the owner I found out she had purchased it used in the 1990’s for her daughter and she didn’t know how old it was. It had been in her garage for the past fifteen years. After a long telephone conversation with this nice woman, I decided to make the long drive out to Acton to check out the bike.

The bike was not in pristine condition, but it was rideable and the price was right, $50.  However, when I got the bike home, my husband decided that it needed some major cleaning up. At which point hubby began taking it completely apart and the cleaning and polishing began.

Excited about my new bike I began voraciously researching information about this bike and found websites that allowed me to plug in the serial number and find out the exact month and year it was built. I quickly learned it was a 1969 My Fair Lady model built in August and originally sold in Massachusetts for $49.95.

My husband suggested I call some local bike shops and find a replacement seat for the bike, even though the seat was in good condition.

I found a few local bike shops that had Schwinn replica seats. The bike shop I decided to deal with was Gilbert’s Bicycles in Torrance, California. Gilbert, the owner has been in business for over 30 years. He’s extremely knowledgeable about bikes, especially vintage Schwinn bikes. He was also the most personable when I called all the bike shops.

Gilbert’s shop is five miles from me, so I drove over immediately to buy a replacement seat. After speaking with Gilbert and telling him about my purchase, he showed me a vintage Schwinn bike he recently had powder-coat painted. It was a beautiful cobalt blue and the smoothest powder-coat finish I had laid my hands on. He suggested I bring in the frame and he would get me a quote. Meanwhile, I purchased a white sparkle replica seat and returned home to tell my husband about the powder-coated Schwinn.

After a week of sanding, soaking and attempts to put back the shine in the Sting-Ray, it became apparent that the bike needed more than a little elbow grease. My husband wanted me to have the bike frame and chain guard powder-coated and have all the chrome redone. So, back to Gilbert I went. At this point, Gilbert and I had become quick friends and he began calling me, Schwinn Lady.

My second trip to Gilbert was to get a price on the powder-coating.  After discussing the quote with my husband, we decided to get the frame powder-coated. That led to a third, fourth, fifth and sixth visit which I ended up having Gilbert do the re-chroming of the handle bars, which led to the re-chroming of the sissy bar and fenders, which led to the re-chroming of the crank and the seventh visit was to get the kick-stand, tire rims and spokes re-chromed.

My $50.00 bargain bike quickly turned into a bottomless bike pit. The cost to refurbish my $50 bike ended up costing around $1,000 when the bike was completely restored to better than new condition.

Here’s some before and after photos of sections of the bike:

Rusted Crank Rail   Rusted Rear Fender   Rusted Handle Bars

restored crankshaft   restored rearfender   restored newbikefull

It took exactly a month of working closely with Gilbert to restore the Schwinn. Most of the restoration was completed by Gilbert or the people that did the re-chroming and powder-coating. However, I am so grateful to my husband for his hard work and determination to help me get the details, such as all the custom screws and bolts cleaned and polished for my bike. We both spent a great deal of time getting the fine details just right. The bike looks better than new and rides quiet and smooth.

On my first hour ride along the beach, I was stopped by several people who were excited to see a restored vintage Schwinn Sting Ray bike they grew up riding. Although it was a pricey endeavor restoring this children’s bike, I would do it all over again. You can’t put a price on the happiness that the bike provides this vintage Schwinn Lady.

Shine On

read my post about the history of the Schwinn Sting-Ray at, Sting-Ray Story

Lift My Spirits

 

“The mind is everything.
What you think you become.” 
Buddha

 

Positive thinking

If you’re looking to have a more positive 2020, there’s a book I highly recommend, “Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding”, by Billy Mills. Translated from Lakota, “Wokini” means “seeking a new beginning” or “seeking a new vision.” This book taught me about myself, and showed me what it means to be happy. It also guided me on my own personal journey to feel more satisfied in my life.

The book is a wonderful blend of modern therapeutic principles, positive thinking; self-awareness; and Native American beliefs in meditation, thought, dreams, and respect for the harmony and balance of nature.

The Wokini way of life and thinking has helped me a great deal this past year. Whenever I feel stressed or angered from the most minuscule thing, I just chant Wokini and do some breathing exercises. This simple chant keeps me from bringing negativity into my life and most of all helps lift my spirits.

Shine On

Ballet Beautiful

Edgar Degas Self Portrait

Edgar Degas 1834-1917

 

It’s been over a century since French painter Edgar Degas lived and died. This self portrait of Degas is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of art in New York City.

More than any other of the great artist from the impressionist era, Degas was fascinated by the powerful and exciting world of ballet. Degas was masterly at capturing in his paintings the flowing movements of ballerina’s on stage, candid poses of young dancers waiting in the wings and in rehearsal halls and dance classes.

Ballarenas by Degas

Edgar Degas – The Dancing Class 1871

Although Degas painted other subject matter, Degas was enchanted by what he called a “fairy like illusion of the ballet”. He admired ballerinas hard work which often the public never witnessed.

It wasn’t that long ago ballet performances were only enjoyed by the rich and famous and rarely did the underprivileged experience the beauty and wonder of ballet. Thanks to movies and television the public is much more aware of the beauty, hard work and discipline it takes to become a prima ballerina.

I’m an admirer of Edgar Degas paintings not for just his painting style, but also for the beauty and the grace of ballet. Live performances of ballet along with any movies or tv with ballet is one of my favorite visual experiences.

Although I never dreamed of becoming a ballerina, I always found ballet classes and ballet based workouts my favorite. In recent years, my go to workout is, Mary Helen Bower’s, Ballet Beautiful dvd tapes.

Ballet BeutifulMary Bowers is the prima ballerina who trained Natalie Portman for the 2010 movie, Black Swan. What I love most about Bower’s workout routine is I can do 15 minutes or more of Ballet Beautiful workouts in the privacy of my living room. The workouts are great for toning, elongating your body and just stretching to gain better mobility and balance. Doing this workout gives me energy and lifts my spirit.

If you’re looking to gain strength and quickly tone your body, you don’t have to be female, or join a gym or even be a prima ballerina to enjoy the benefits of Ballet Beautiful.

Shine On