Monday, October 17, 2011


O.K., I know what you are thinking and I’m pretty sure that the image you have this moment of birds and a mess isn’t where this story is going. But, then you never know until the story is finished…

I recently realized that in all of my writing of the recent trip to Hilton Head Island and our Low Country cycling week, that I forgot to mention what for me was a new life experience! We had been on the island and at our rental house for a couple of hours when we started hearing these odd sounds from outside. We had stayed fairly busy unpacking vehicles and putting things away so didn’t really attend to the unusual noise with much energy.

Finally, we finished settling in and were sitting on the deck enjoying a cold libation and watching the golfers drive their shots across the lagoon when we kept hearing the sounds from the tall pines that surrounded the house. I finally spotted the perpetrator of the noise. It was an Great American  Bald Eagle! To that point in my life, I had never seen one live.

Bald Eagle on Hilton Head Island

(A Bald Eagle sitting in the trees and singing out for all he’s worth!)

I was torn between watching him and enjoying the moment and trying to get to my camera in the hopes that he wouldn’t fly off before I could get a picture. As you can see, I opted for the camera although I did enjoy simply observing him as well. The image above was as close as I could pull him into focus with my mounted lens.

In just a few moments, he flew off and we discovered what he had been conversing with… a second Eagle that we had not observed. The two of them were magnificent creatures as they soared away from the house and along the lagoon. I’m guessing it was supper time. Despite my wishes, we didn’t see the pair again during our stay.

Now, for the Big ‘Ole Mess…

The Navigator has been a pretty darn good sport about my riding and the equipment and accouterments that go along with the ventures. She really hasn’t said too terribly much about me keeping the Fuji CCR3 in the dining room when I wasn’t riding it. She was less happy about the various lights, tools, etc. that somehow seemed to find their way to the dining room table for extended stays.

Then, we added her Fiona from REI and there simply wasn’t the room for two bikes in the dining room even if she would have allowed it. So, Fiona found home on the lower level where we watch TV with our dogs and the Fuji maintained a vigil upstairs.

But then… I added the Salsa Fargo to the stable and there just became too many bikes in too many places for our comfort level. So….. I called upon my limited carpentry skills and geometry knowledge from 10th grade in high school some 42 years ago and decided to construct a bike rack where everything could be together in one place and mostly out of the way.

This revelation came to me while I was wandering through my local Lowe’s store one day last week. (I’m prone to brilliant revelations while at Lowe’s.) The problem with me and building anything is that I have a pretty impaired concept of scale. I once decided to build a roost for my father’s Bob Whites. I set to purchasing equipment (read MORE power tools) and supplies. The only level place I had to work at that time was on the deck of our then home.

I started figuring and constructing and before you knew it, I had the magnificent new home for my Dad’s birds. One of our neighbors worked with my Dad and made the gentle inquiry of him wanting to know why I was adding a room on to our deck. This was news to my Dad. It should give you some idea of my concept of scale. So, the big day to transport the roost to Dad for his birthday came and I lined up 4 male friends to help load the thing (another hint about scale) and we finally loaded it into my Jeep pickup for the trip across town. There was no room for anything else in the truck. (Yes, my final hint about being scale impaired).

I’m proud to say that the Condo, as it became known, lasted a number of years and supported several hatches of birds. It lasted right up until the moment that Il Plummer and I cut down an oak tree, watched it pivot UPHILL, and then proceed to roll dead under the Condo smashing it and releasing all of the birds back to nature!

The Stage is Set for a Bike Rack…

I didn’t share my intent with the Navigator as she tends to roll her eyes when I infer that I might build something. Plus, I wanted to surprise her by getting my bike stuff out of the way. She was gone on Saturday taking care of her father so I knew I had time to build with wild abandon. So, I did…

My supply list was actually pretty small. It consisted of the following:

  • 3 2X4X8’ studs
  • 1 1X6X8’ board
  • 2 4’ in length Gladiator channels for holding hooks
  • 3 hooks for holding bikes
  • 6 assorted hooks for holding other bike-related materials (helmets, seat bags, etc.)
  • An assortment of wood screws

The Gladiator channels are 4” wide by 4’ long and I figured they would butt up to each other to cover the length of the 1X6X8’ board. (Oh yeah, when building I rarely go by plans, which may be a variable in my scale disability.)

My first step was to construct the legs/posts which I did by cutting 2 of the 2X4X8’ studs to 7’ lengths. I then cut two 3’ lengths from the remaining 2X4X8’ stud. I marked off 1.5” from the end of the 3’ stud so that I could then nail a 1’ cleat to it and have the 7’ upright screwed to the 3’ stud and the 1’ cleat.

Bike Rack Cleat

(Joining the upright to the base)

I realized pretty quickly that this wasn’t going to be a particularly strong upright and that I needed additional support of the upright. So, I scavenged another 2X4X8’ stud from my leftover building projects and cut another 3’ length out of it. I then cut each end on a 45 degree angle and screwed the bottom to the 3’ base stud and the top to the 7’ upright. I used my framing square to maintain a 90 degree angle at the cleat. I repeated these steps for the second upright and support that would be needed. I was using 2'” by 6” wood screws that I had in my supply of unused materials.

Next up was to mount the Gladiator channels to the 1X6X8’ board. I simply measured to center the channels on the board and screwed them using the provided screws to the board and to the two uprights. I had measured in 1’ on each end of the board so that I’d have my uprights in some semblance of symmetry.

At this point, I made sure the uprights were securely attached to the face board. I was ready to put the hooks into the channels and stand the whole thing up with hopes that it wouldn’t fall over and that it would fit within the basement.

Naked bike rack

(A naked bike rack… Ignore the ugly walls in the background. Sad story…)

So, it was time to test out the stability of the rack and I began adding bikes to it. First up was Fiona followed by Fargo and finally Fuji.. The 3 F’s of the household.





 (Rack loaded with bikes and still standing!)





(Side view of the rack)




I quickly noted that the design had a flaw in it. The 1X6X8’ flat board with the Gladiator channel had a somewhat sharp wooden corner running the full length of the board. With the weight of the bikes hanging on the hooks, the tires were biting into the sharp corner. I was uncomfortable with this particularly with the skinny tired Fuji. I didn’t want to ruin a new set of tires!

Had I realized this in the beginning, I could simply have run the Gladiator channels flush with the bottom of the board and avoided the entire issue. Now, however, I needed a fix as I did not want to remove all of the screws holding the channels to the board and to the upright. I briefly considered running the board along my router and putting an angle cut on the board but decided I would probably end up ruining the board and having to start over.

I needed help… I did the only thing a sane man with a scale disability could do. I returned to Lowe’s. I wandered the isles. I perused the specialized nuts and bolts. I contemplated titanium and stainless steel. Finally, just as I was becoming dehydrated from the intense effort, the answer appeared before me with all the shock and awe one might expect from the deep dark recesses of a hardware store.

I found myself in front of an 8’ wooden closet rod bin. Could it work I wondered? Why not? What did I have to lose? I could shop secure in the knowledge that Lowe’s would always take the rod back. So, I made a commitment to roundness – to the smooth finish of a pine closet rod.

Returning home with glee (still haven’t figured out how Leah Michele got into my truck…) and wonderment, I attached the closet rod below the Gladiator channel and discovered that YES! IT WORKS! The sharp edge of the wooden board no longer cut into my tires.


(Rod protecting Fiona’s front rubber)

At some point in the near future, I’ll do some sanding and some staining and give the rack a little more finished look. All in all, for a pretty small outlay of funds, I have in fact pulled our stable of bikes together so that everything is in one place and the dining room is freed up for, well, dining. I’m pleased to say that we did not have to add on to the house in order to store the rack. I imagine my Dad is looking down from Heaven saying “well done, son, well done. Now don’t cut any trees nearby…”

Until later,

- Zeke


Anonymous said...

Looks like to me you could squeeze a 4th bike in that rack. Time to buy another bike!

Bro Dave

Unknown said...

My wife, the Navigator, wishes for you to call directly on her private line. She said someting about "choice words" for that brother of yours...

- Zeke

Anonymous said...

What? The Navigator doesn't want another bike? You didn't think that I was suggesting that you buy another bike for YOURSELF? It is only fair that she has two bikes since YOU have two.

The Navigator's Favorite Bro-in-law.

Unknown said...

Lame as it may be, you should get bonus points for trying to weasel back into the Navigator's good graces...

- Zeke