Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Move Over, Galileo
My friend Larry down the street used to ride bicycles in Midland TX with a buddy who had a recumbent that looked a lot like the one in this photo.
The buddy died, and the bike ended up for sale in a shop where Larry spotted it and tried to buy it back for old times' sake.
But recumbents are tricky, and the shop owner didn't want to sell it to Larry without letting him try it first. It was raining that day, so Larry said he'd be back.
When he returned a few days later, the bike had already been sold to somebody else. The shop owner offered to order him a new one for delivery in three weeks, but Larry was pissed off and not disposed to do business with the inconsiderate jerk.
Instead, he acquired some aluminum tubing and went home to his workshop. Less than a week later when the drive train components arrived in the mail, Larry rode a working recumbent out of his garage in time to join a local bike club ride.
The bike shop owner stood there slack-jawed as Larry rode up.
"You never said you had a recumbent," he said.
"I didn't have one," Larry replied.
"Well, where'd you get this one?"
"I made it," Larry said, and was off in a smug cloud of righteous indignation.
He was riding the bike pictured above, which he brought up to Ruidoso last weekend to show off its climbing capabilities, not much use in the flat terrain around Midland.
I've never been an admirer of recumbent bicycles, notwithstanding the many practical points in their favor, so I declined Larry's invitation to try this one myself.
I admire Larry enormously, however, and not just because he can make a bicycle. Actually, once he had made this one he couldn't quit. Half a dozen more recumbents in various alternative designs have rolled out of his shop over the past couple of years and into the hands of friends who otherwise would have paid four-figure sums to buy them. That bike shop owner never knew what his fecklessness cost him.
But Larry's fabrication skills go way beyond bicycles. He owns three airplanes. Only one of them is airworthy at the moment. But the new landlord at the strip where Larry keeps them has changed the rules and raised the rent, so Larry intends to fly all three somewhere else after he's patched them back together.
A sailing friend called Larry several years back after a hurricane smashed up his boat on a lake near Del Rio because he couldn't find anybody locally to repair it and the insurance company wanted to declare it a total loss.
Larry drove down with a trailer he'd made for his own sailboat, hauled it back to Midland, billed his friend's insurer, and then decided it was too nice a boat to salvage for parts. Instead he patched it up, recoated the fiberglass hull, and sailed the boat himself.
A couple of months ago, Larry was working on a new deck in back of his house when Cynthia, his wife, announced that their washing machine was busted. Larry told her it was at least 25 years old and they should get a new one.
"Oh, you can fix it," Cynthia said, not looking up from the magazine she was reading.
Larry came across the street sputtering about his princess bride and asked if he could borrow our Internet connection to look for YouTube clips that might help him please her. A few hours later there were clean socks and underwear in his drawer, and Larry was back at work on the deck.
Cynthia clearly knew what I now realize. The way to get Larry motivated is to annoy him. I hope this post makes him mad. The pilot light on my trailer's water heater needs some attention.