Thursday, July 15, 2010

Terry Gerweck visits the dark side

Photos by Terry Gerweck

THIS BEAUTIFUL wood stretch cruiser uses a hood ornament from a 1950s Chevrolet BelAire as the centerpiece on the handlebars.

Terry Gerweck's interest, or renewed interest, in freak bikes started with Dave Moeller, builder of the Dragonwood and other interesting cycles, inviting Jim "Chainsaw" Johnson of Holly, president of the Great Lakes chapter of the FreakBike Militia, to this year's Michigan HPV Rally.
Jim came Saturday, had such a good time that he returned on Sunday with his wife, Dora "Giggles," and his latest creation, which Paul Pancella rode as the pace bike for one of the Sunday morning road races.
That got the wheels in Terry's head turning -- what he could do with some of the junk bikes in his garage -- so he visited two freak bike gatherings.
Here's Terry's reports:
Made a road trip June 26 to Ionia for the FreakBike Palooza. I've messed with choppers before, so it wasn't any stretch to be interested.
For one reason or another I never seem to get involved with people with "normal" interests. Wonder why that is?

It was hotter than hell and mostly folks just sat around and discussed the finer points of building choppers and other weird and different kinds of bicycles. Other than the typical configuration (if there is a typical configuration), these bikes aren't that far removed from what we run at Waterford. The "freak bikes" may attract a few more younger participants.
These folks are just as serious about their bikes as the HPVers, but the focus is fun, not speed. Pedaling efficiency and aerodynamics don't even register on their priority lists and here there was nothing wrong with a 75-pound bicycle!
All that said, my new 'bent would not have been out of place here. I rode the motorcycle today and didn't want to haul the trailer 300 miles or I would have brought the 'bent along.
And yeah, if he doesn't reclaim it, the Huffy a guy from work gave me is destined to be "converted" into "all it can be."

Mary (Terry's wife) and I celebrated Independence Day on Saturday, July 3, by attending the Fourth of July Freak Out in Fowlerville. Yeah, I know that's two freak bike events in two weeks. Just think of it as research.
In reality, this isn't my first venture into the realm of custom bikes, but it may well be my deepest trip yet. It seems I now have dual citizenship, MHPVA and the "Freak Bike Nation."

DOING THE FREAKBIKE LIMBO at the Fowlerville event. A rider on a low racer from HPV circles could win this event easily, but maybe that would be considered cheating.

The "Freak Out" was a bit more involved than the event in Ionia. Activities included a bike show with more than 45 bikes shown, including my new 'bent and my old chopper that I dug out of the back of the garage and cleaned off two years of accumulated dirt and crud. There was a potluck barbecue, a freak bike ride in the Fowlerville Fourth of July parade and fireworks at dusk.

Dora "Giggles" Johnson built this bike, including the welding. The side away from the camera is painted red, hence the name of her bike, "Split Personality."

Mike Eliasohn looking foolish sits on Jim "Chainsaw" Johnson's freakbike at the Michigan HPV Rally on June 13. Johnson, at right, cut up several bicycle frames, plus other stuff to build his creation . Paul Pancella, who took the photo, used this bike to pace one of the Sunday morning road races.

The bike show, while foreign to me, was run just like the local car shows I've seen. Bikes were displayed and judged, with the owners sitting around BS'ing with each other and spectators. I have little understanding of the judging or the different classes.
I found it interesting that my 'bent got little attention, but the chopper was deemed pretty cool. In a past post, we (Terry and Mike Eliasohn) talked about the use of gears and making these bike easier/more efficient to pedal. That does happen with some of the bikes. Derailleurs and internal-geared hubs are used by some, but aesthetics, simple clean chainlines, and artistic ideas and interpretation are more important on their bikes, which will seldom see everyday use (like the chopper I dug
out of the garage).
Along those lines, my next build/HPV will be more freak bike than efficient recumbent.
Oh yeah, my chopper won a best-in-class award. (No, I don't know what class and I'm not sure what they saw in it!!!)

The website for the FreakBike Militia - Great Lakes is

TERRY'S award winning chopper

OUCH! This bike was built for a bicycle build-off competition. The seatpost was made from an ax, a pitchfork became the seat, hedgeclippers became the handlebars and other "sharp pointy things" also were used in its construction.

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