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

That First Ride

“Nothing compares
to the simple pleasure of
riding a bike.”
John F. Kennedy

 

First Bike

 

Bicycles have been part of my life since my first tricycle I received on my third birthday. I was so proud of this shiny red tricycle, which came with its very own miniature stop sign. I remember riding my bike around the neighborhood all day until it was dark out and my mom would find me and bring me home.

I guess it was the freedom experienced when riding a bicycle which attracted me the most. As a toddler, you’re at the mercy and control of everyone. Riding my bike gave me the power and freedom to go anywhere my tiny feet and legs could take me.

Hand me down SchwinnMy tricycle days were short lived when I discovered two wheelers. My much older sister and brother would fly by me on my short slow tricycle. So, within a year after receiving my beloved trike, I taught myself how to ride my sister’s two-wheeler. At four years old, not tall enough to reach the pedals while sitting on the bike seat, I learned to balance myself on the foot pedals. Stopping the bike was a challenge but I quickly had my technique down pat. My sister’s hand-me-down large red Schwinn bike was where my serious love of biking began.

When we relocated to California, my parents bought me my dream bike to ride to school. This green, Schwinn Sting Ray, My Fair Lady model was my first very own bike.

In my teens I discovered speed bikes. I read and researched about these modern fast lightweight bikes which fueled the astonishing “Bike Boom” of the 1970s.  I saved up for one I had my eye on at Montgomery Ward. This Japanese $100, black slick 10-speed became my pride and joy. I learned to fine tune the gears and brakes. Daily after riding, I would spend a good hour cleaning and polishing my bike. I even had bought myself a small pack with tools that attached under the back of the seat.

First Ten Speed

 

One school morning I went to the garage to get my bike and it was gone. In tears and feeling like someone had kicked me in the gut, I called my mom at work. I was crying hysterically and she kept asking me who died? I was finally able to tell her my bike was gone. She told me to call my older brother, which I immediately did.

Within an hour, my brother showed up with my bike in tow. My brother had drove around the neighborhood and spotted the bike thief. He knew immediately it was my bike from the shiny spokes and tool pack under the seat. When he stopped the grubby looking kid on my bike and asked where he got the nice bike, the kid stammered and couldn’t answer. At that point, my brother jumped out of his car, grabbed the boy and told him to hand over the bike or he’d break every bone in his body. The kid dropped the bike and ran. My brother’s actions are not exactly something someone would do today, unless you want to get shot. But, I’m forever grateful to my heroic big brother for getting my bike back so quickly in one piece.

In the new millennium, I moved on from 10-speeds to mountain bikes. My current bike with pearlized white paint finish, is a Boss Two Infinity 7-speed and what they call a hybrid which is part speed bike part mountain bike. It’s extremely smooth riding and comfortable. Of course, I’ve tricked it out with my black sheep skin seat, handlebar pack, black sturdy rear rack, CatEye Padrone bike computer as well as front and rear lights.

Boss Two

I’ve had numerous 10-speeds and mountain bikes through the years but my first bike the Schwinn, My Fair Lady, Sting Ray was like a first love and nothing I ever rode or owned would ever match that feeling of true freedom on that first ride.

Shine On

my cycling saga continues with, Schwinn Lady

 

 

Have A Whale of A Valentine’s Day

“Today is Valentine’s Day.
– Or as men like to call it,
Extortion Day!”
Jay Leno

 

Redondo Beach Gray Whale Valentines Day 2020

This is the season for all the migrating Gray Whales. Today a local photographer, Tim Hammond shot this Gray Whale spouting its heart shaped wishes.

Shine On

 

Dog Athletes in Motion

 

“There is no such thing as a difficult dog,
only an inexperienced owner.”
Barbara Woodhouse

Dog Athletes in Motion

 

Every year I look forward to watching the prime televised dog shows. I’m always amazed how the judges select “Best of Show” from such beautiful and diverse breeds. But, there is one event at the recent Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show which doesn’t require a judge. The best in the agility category.

There are different breeds and sizes that compete in dog agility. But, whatever size or breed you prefer, there is no denying that these agility dogs have a whole lot of heart.

P!nk, who is pictured above and yes, named after the singer, became the sixth border collie in seven years to win the 2020 Westminster Masters Agility Championship. The dog and her owner, Jennifer Crank, won the 16-inch class for the third consecutive year.

If you love dogs and have never watched a dog agility competition, you’ve missed the experience of witnessing dog athletes in motion.

Shine On

Viewing Habits

“I have a problem with the strip
that runs along the bottom of the news programs.
Don’t these idiots who run the news programs know
we don’t want to read.
That’s why we’re watching TV.”
Jerry Seinfeld

 

Viewing Habits

Standing behind the Ampex Mark IV Video Tape Recorder. From left to right: Charlie Anderson, Ray Dolby, Alex Maxey, Shelby Henderson, Charles Ginsburg, and Fred Pfost.

We have become so spoiled with our current technology. We can stream television and movies virtually any time and on a multitude of devices. When television first began, most shows were broadcast live because of the limitations of the technology. There were no home DVR‘s. There were no video tapes that broadcasters used. And no sports slow-motion instant replays. All our television shows, including the news was broadcast live.

Thanks to some very innovative men, we now have the luxury of taping shows and watching them when we want to watch them with or without commercials.

In the early 1950s, engineer Charles Ginsburg and his team at Ampex Corporation, Charles Andersen, Ray Dolby, Shelby Henderson, Fred Pfost, and Alex Maxey developed the world’s first practical video tape recorder known as the Video Television Recorder aka VTR. These video tape recorders would allow television stations to record shows and replay them when they wanted to.

After several years of testing and development, on November 30, 1956 The Ampex Mark IV Video Tape Recorder went on the air, for the first time, from CBS Television City, in Hollywood, California, broadcasting a West Coast delayed broadcast of DOUGLAS EDWARDS AND THE NEWS. This, as far as it is known, was the first time in history that any video tape had been broadcast anywhere. NBC followed suit at the beginning of 1957, and ABC began delayed broadcasts from video tape for the West Coast in early April of 1957.

This VTR invention revolutionized television broadcasting forever. Thanks to Ginsberg and his team, we now have entire control over what and when we watch our favorite shows. Which today, has dramatically changed all of our television viewing habits.

Shine On