Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tough Kids: Part 3

Here's Malcolm McCollam's shot of the bikes and volunteers. It's better than mine. I like the flash reflected off the bikes, and the color of the frames shows up much better. Obviously, I was standing just to his left as this was taken. Be sure to see his list of statistics at the end of this post.

If you've wondered what 300 assembled bicycles look like, along with a gang of tired volunteers, well, here's your chance to see it. We assembled the bikes in under 3 hours. I lost count of how many went through my hands. Tom Brown of Tom's Bicycles asked me to join the group doing final inspection. I said, "I get to play with the varsity! Wow!" It feels good to know that someone trusts the quality of my work.

Also, Adam Vanderburg, owner of Lee's Bicycles, asked that I come back tonight to go over the bikes once again. He said they tend to develop flat tires after being up at pressure for a few hours, so we'll inspect them for flats or any other problems tonight. I'm hoping my tired old legs hold out. they were definitely not happy about getting up this morning.

One other thing - the Tough Kids bikes have a different color scheme from the Little 100 bikes in previous posts. These are mainly a dove gray with the Tulsa Tough decals. I'll get better photos tonight with the 'big' camera. These were shot with my Razr cell phone.

Malcolm McCollam (right) was the face of this event for the local media. He didn't pull it off alone, of course, but his is the best photo I have of any of the volunteers. It was a fast-paced evening and while I did shoot a lot, the low light in the warehouse produced some badly exposed photos. We had a generator powering lights inside the structure. It was still dark and gloomy.

Malcolm addresses the troops just prior to the truck's arrival.

When the truck pulled in, cheers erupted. After the driver maneuvered it to the loading dock - a feat in itself - we formed a conga line to grab bike boxes and drag them near the assembly area. Small groups assembled the bikes by attaching the handlebars, front wheel, pedals, and saddle. After assembly, they went to inspection. The 'QA' group was composed of professional wrenches (and one...ahem...talented amateur) who went over the bikes to see that everything was working properly, all fasteners were snug, and that the bike was safe to ride.

There were some minor problems. Coaster brake retaining screws were loose or missing. Some of the bikes arrived with front reflector brackets that were too small for the handlebars. And some of the assemblers could have done better work, but all in all, it went well.

As I finished an inspection, I'd check the tire pressure, then ride the bike down a ramp to the bike corral where they were sorted by size. This was "Ed's Vertical Crush Test". I could hear spokes ping as the settled into the rim, and riding down the ramp was a good means of testing the coaster brake. Yes, they do come in 3 sizes. Most are small or medium, with only a few large frames. Again, I'll get some better photos tonight.

I'm aching and sore this morning. Coffee and ibuprofen seem to be in order. Also, I've taken vacation days for today and tomorrow. While wrenching 300 bikes wasn't exactly relaxing, it certainly was fun!

(Just after I posted this, the following e-mail arrived from Malcolm)

The last 48 hours have been a roller coaster of emotions for me and the rest of the Event Committee. I still don't know if what I witnessed last night has sunk in. Your commitment, energy and giving spirit lit up the Mathews Warehouse every bit as much as the generator-powered floodlights Marc brought in for the bike build. To say I am proud and humbled to be a part of this endeavor would be the understatement of the year. As the event unfolds this weekend - and especially as those kids take to the start line Sunday morning at 7 a.m. - please know that each and every one of you are appreciated and a critical link in the Tulsa Tough drive train.

Container in Mathews building at 9:00 p.m.
Bikes completed at 11:21 p.m.
Total volunteers present: 70+
American Airlines mechanics: Appx. 25
Television Stations Present: 4
Newspapers present: 1
Bikes completed: 296
Avg. production of assembly line: One bike every 29 seconds
Bike Shops represented: Lee's/Trek, Tom's Rivertrail
Clubs Represented: Tulsa Wheelmen, Tulsa Bicycle Club, Sound Pony, Mercy Cycling, Team Power Train, Bicycles of Tulsa

Labels: , ,


Blogger Paul Tay said...

Yep. When you guys hand them out, be sure to warn the kids: If ya don't take care of 'em, Santa's gonna STEAL 'em BACK! Watch yer bikes, suckaaaaaaaas!

They gonna be HOT on eBay.

10:52 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home