Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Penguin

In The Blues Brothers. Jake and Elwood refer to the Mother Superior of the Catholic orphanage they grew up in as "The Penguin".

I acquired my 1910 Iver Johnson bicycle from a junk pile on the grounds of a Catholic orphanage, here in Denver, a few years ago.  I had stopped by because they were having a rummage sale, to benefit the orphans.  But, I was disappointed to see that there were no bikes for sale.

I was deep into the Grinder Bikes era of my life, and I was looking for old road bikes to convert to fixed-gear.  Unfortunately, there were none to be had at the sale.

However, I had seen a huge pile of bikes in a fenced-in area as Randy and I drove in.  So, I asked the nun in attendance if those bikes were for sale.  She told me that they had been donated to a youth-bike program that they ran at the orphanage, and I would need to talk to Mother Superior to find out if I could buy some.

She led Randy and me to the office of the Mother, and introduced us.  I explained that I was very eager to support the orphans, but I needed bikes...not the stuff that was for sale at the Rummage Sale.

We struck a deal, and I donated some money in exchange for picking a certain number of bikes out of the vast pile in the fenced area.

As I walked into the enclosed are, I saw the Iver Johnson frame sitting on top of a pile of junk metal.  I immediately threw it into the truck.

Randy sort of raised his eyebrows, so I explained to him what the frame was.

Iver Johnson was the brand that Major Taylor (the first black man to be World Champion of any sport) rode during his career in the early 20th Century.  Their road frames were recognizable by the truss-frame design (Trust the Truss, their ads said), and I had long wanted one, to compliment my high-wheeler.

I loves me some historic bicycle designs.

I worked on smoothing out the cobby repair to the broken seat tube, then had the bike powder-coated to emulate an aged copper-plate (like I had seen in a photo of an Iver Johnson track bike).  Then I built it up as a slightly-modernized fixed gear.

I call the bike "The Penguin", in honor of its origin.


1 comment:

  1. I either missed or never knew where you got the Iver Johnson. Having been rasied Catholic, you would think I would remembered.


As always, sorry about the word verification. It's a necessary evil, unfortunately.