Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I decided, now that I have my lovely new crate, that it was high time I bothered raising the handlebars on my bicycle. See, on a cruiser sort of bike, your handlebars should actually be higher than your seat. You should be able to sit on your bike and hold the handlebars with your elbows slightly bent. This is how cruisers work. But I am lazy, so when I got my bike last year, I raised the seat to the proper height and left the handlebars because I couldn't find the special sort of tool I needed to undo the bolt (a wrench).

This was not really a problem, until this summer, because in last fall I was brutally destroyed in that car accident that gave me whiplash. In addition to the whiplash, I jarred my right hand. Righty, I call it. Righty had "soft tissue damage" which is medical-speak for, "hurt but there's nothing we can do about it, so suck it up."

Having low handlebars and a high seat makes you tilt your body forward, making you lock your arms and put weight on your arms. Also you absorb shock with your arms. And that hurts wrists with "soft tissue damage."

So I broke down and raised the handlebars. It's pretty easy. But do you know what's not easy? Tightening bolts.

I went for a ride with Mum because that's what we do. And we went along a very bumpy gravel road, bouncing up and down hills. After about a mile, we stopped at a derelict country bridge, and I parked my bike. And then the front wheel went left while the handlebars turned right. That is not supposed to happen. They are supposed to turn together.

"You can't ride home like that!" Mum said.

I wiggled the handlebar assembly, which was very loose for something that had been very tight mere minutes before.

"It's going to just fall off!"

"No, it won't," I told Mum confidently. And to prove my point, I jerked the handlebars up. And they came right off.

You cannot ride a contraption with two wheels and no handlebars. One wheel and a seat, sure. Some people can do that. But two wheels and no handlebars? No. Not possible.

So Mum set off home for tools while I walked (with Darcy) back toward home. When Mum came back with the tools (in her car so she'd be speedy), I tightened everything. It still was not enough, because I tightened both things way more when I got home. And Dad got home and tightened them even more.

Here's hoping I don't lose my handlebars and die on my next ride.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bike Crate Reveal!

I finished my bike crate.

It turned out exactly as I wanted it to, which is so rare, it made me think I could accomplish a great many things. So I made a lemon meringue pie from scratch. That turned out as well, so I'm probably going to be struck by lightning or break several bones just by walking.

This was the tutorial I used to waterproof my crate and attach it to my bicycle. If you want to know more about how I customized the blank crate, check out this earlier post.

Still have questions? Leave them in the comments, and I'll help!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Waiting for Mod Podge to Dry

I am making a crate for my bicycle. I spent many months (since I first bought my bicycle...last year?) trying to think of what sort of crate I wanted, if I wanted to order one, if I wanted to buy a vintage one, or if I wanted to design my own. As with many of my projects,* I thought about the bicycle crate without actually doing anything.

I was in T.J. Maxx a few days ago, and I saw a perfectly shaped wooden crate. It had no giant spaces between slats, it had no logo from some defunct liquor or ammunition company (as many crates sold online feature), it had no Coca Cola logo (as are found in every local antique store). It was totally plain, with a bit of metal around the edges to keep you from denting the wood. It was perfect, so I bought it.

I spent the next few days trying to figure out what my bike crate should say. It had to have something, so I thought I'd make it into a British flag, or maybe I'd reproduce a book cover. I finally settled on making it look like a Flourish and Blotts' delivery bike. If you're unfamiliar, Flourish and Blotts was where Harry Potter bought his schoolbooks every year.

I used a fancy sort of paper called Craft Attitude to print the sign I'd made up. Craft Attitude allows you to print anything you like, then peel off the backing of the paper, leaving you with a fancy clear film that you can decoupage onto any surface. If you're working with lettering (as I was), you have to flip the writing 180 degrees, but other than that, you just print your image normally. It's brilliant, and I love using it.

Mirroring the lettering was harder than it should have been because 1. I have no word processing program on my laptop (I use Google Docs because I am cheap), so I had to borrow Dad's new laptop to have access to Word and 2. Word has no option for flipping text 180 degrees, and 3. HP does not offer that option in any of its settings. So I spent several hours designing the sign, several more trying to flip the design, and even more time driving to work to use Publisher and then back home again. It was obnoxious.

Once I'd printed my picture, I cut around each word or object I was using and mapped out my crate so I could position things properly. Then the Mod Podge came out.

When the Craft Attitude was in place, I started with the Tung Oil, which I hear is like varnish but cheaper. Whatever, my tutorial insisted I use it, so I did, even though it can spontaneously ignite whenever it likes. I have to do several more coats of that and then drill holes to put the crate on my bike, but I'm pretty pleased at how well it's turning out. What do you think?

Ignore the oddly-shaped picture, I had to crop out the garage because it is a disaster zone at the moment. Actually always. Anyway. Yeah.

If you want to try out making your own bike crate, here's the tutorial I'm using. And, of course, ask me any questions you like about making this project down in the comments. I am so here for you.

* The headboard, for one. Also the great computer data transfer, the basement organization crusade, the new curtains...