Sid

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The Renaissance Man

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This was all about resuscitating this classic muscle bike back to life after decades of neglect.

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I utilized as much of the original bike as possible.

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The bike was disassembled, cleaned, and restored back to working condition while maintaining the original finishes and 99% of its original parts. The only brand-new parts used were the front tire & tube, the cables, and the sissy bar caps. Other vintage replacement parts used include the rear tire & tube, pedals, brake pads, and handlebar wrap. The headlight is the only thing added and only because I thought it was too cool not to use it! :cool:

Click HERE for the complete build journal.
 
If you have about 10 extra minutes and you're interested to read Sid's story, Here it is:

*The names were changed to protect the innocent.


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It was a hot humid day in the middle of summer. Or at least it seemed that way to me. The building was bustling with activity but was oddly still from where I sat. The air smelled of hot oil and machinery mixed with other things that I couldn't quite make out. There was also a cacophony of sounds coming from all around that was both soothing and frightening all at once. I was surrounded by others who all looked so alike, that it was difficult to tell each of us apart. The low light didn't help either. But despite the somewhat dank surroundings, I felt so alive! The excitement of what lay ahead was almost overwhelming!

My journey had officially kicked off that day. I was itching to roll out of this place and experience the world! My imagination was souring just thinking about the adventures ahead but without a clue concerning where I would end up. As the day passed our numbers were growing. I wondered just how many of us would fit in this place. 'Surely some of us early arrivals will be leaving soon' I thought to myself. A quick glance from a dark figure two rows away let me know that I was thinking out loud. The rest of the day I kept my thoughts in check and patiently waited for whatever would come next. Things gradually got a little less busy and a little quieter and I could see the light outside begin to fade. Realizing that the adventure was not going to start on this first day, I settled in for the night with my sights set on the new day tomorrow.

These were some of my earliest memories in this life. The funny thing is, my first memory came from the first day of my life. You see, we bikes skip birth, childhood, older adolescence, and so on (you get the picture). We hit the ground rolling from the first day and it's all downhill from there (pun intended). Actually, it's easy to say that the first year or so of life is as good as it gets. Sadly you only realize this after it's gone. I know this all too well.

Making any friendships with those around me was never an option because even though we were starting this journey together in the beginning, our time together would be very short-lived and everyone understood this. However, after a few weeks of waiting (it seemed more like months) a few of us were taken to another part of the building. I was now sitting side by side with that same dark figure who didn't seem to like me from that first day back in the warehouse. It was awkward for a bit so I decided to introduce myself. "Hi", I said, "I'm Sid, I'm a Swinger." My introduction was met with silence. Not to be deterred, I tried again. "What's your name?" Finally, he responded with "Mark, Mark II" and that was all. I stayed quiet again.

Soon each of us in that room was moved one at a time to a corner that was filled with photography equipment and a large white backdrop. It was a photoshoot! I overheard the crew of people discussing how to pose the shots in various positions to be used in advertising! It was very exciting to watch as each of the other bikes took their turn. Finally, I was moved in position and there was a lot of talk about how to set the lights for (what they called) my flamboyant paint. Time flew by amid all of the excitement and soon we were all sitting together again.

Almost predictably, I was practically touching grips with Mark as the people removed the equipment and were leaving the room. I tried to act unaware of our proximity to each other hoping to be rolled away as soon as possible. The last person left the room and the lights were shut off leaving us in darkness. It wasn't long before Mark broke the silence. "Flamboyant paint huh?" I wasn't sure how to respond. "I guess you think you're special huh?" He said mockingly. "We all saw the special attention you got but I can tell you that you're no better than the rest of us! You'll see!" I was left speechless. The next morning we were each taken out and I never saw Mark again.

A few months passed and one cold morning a couple of men showed up and carefully loaded me into a van. From the back, I could overhear them talking. They were discussing how they planned to display me so that no one could help but notice how I shined with my flamboyant paint. They were going on and on about how no kid would be able to resist me! This made my head swim! We eventually arrived at a large department store called JC Penny and I was taken to the front window next to the doors. The space had been prepared ahead of time with glamorous-looking tinsel and lights with just enough space for me to sit. I was handed off to a lady who lovingly cleaned every speck of dust and meticulously placed me so that I could be seen from the inside and outside of the store. Finally, my journey had started and wow, what a start!

Every day for the next several weeks there was a seemingly endless procession of kids staring at my sparkling flamboyant paint and shining chrome. Some even carried cut-out pages of advertisements that featured my photos on them! I now knew why there was so much attention on me at that photo shoot back in the summer! What a dizzying feeling it was, knowing that it was me who was getting all of the attention! I saw many other Swingers (still in their boxes) leaving the store but I knew that it was my job to show off my flamboyant paint and shining chrome to convince them how special that we Swingers were!

On December 24th, 1969, a man came into the store at almost closing time. I remembered him from earlier in the day along with his young son who couldn't take his eyes off of me. After a few minutes, the man and the store manager came over and took me from the window and loaded me in the back of his truck. The manager shook the man's hand and I heard him say; "Well Mr. Fields, we saved the best for last"! We arrived at his house and he quietly rolled me to the back of his garage. There was a space just behind a small set of stairs that led to an attic that he put me in and I overheard him say to himself "Perfect". I had to agree. It was just the right size for my handlebars and sissy bar to fit and was completely out of sight.

Later that night I was taken inside his warm house where I was placed next to a silver aluminum Christmas tree with a rotating color wheel. Mr. Fields's wife tied a large bow to my handlebars and they both looked at me with satisfaction. I knew exactly what was happening and could hardly wait until the next morning.

Before the sun had time to rise the young boy that I had seen in the store the day before ran into the room and straight to me! This was it! The moment that I was made for! This kid and I were about to take on the world!

From the next room, I heard: "Joseph, do you like it?" Joseph shouted "Like it? I love it!" My paint and chrome never shined more than on that morning! And that night Joseph was allowed to bring me into his room and we both dreamed about all of the adventures that were ahead of us.

For the next several years, Joseph and I were inseparable. He would regularly clean my chrome and oil my chain. If I ever had a flat, he was quick to repair it. I knew that he was very proud to have me as his bike.

But as Joseph grew, I began to notice a change. There were days at a time when I wouldn't even see him at all. And when we did ride it just wasn't the same. We no longer rode to places unknown. Instead, it was usually just to get to a certain girl's house and I would be left out of any adventures. Long gone were the days of staying inside the house. Most of the time I didn't even have the luxury of the garage. Many days were spent outside in the rain and my paint and chrome were showing signs of rust.

Then a day came that I will never forget. Joseph's friend Butch offered to trade a BB gun for me. The insulting offer made me chuckle. But then Joseph agreed! I couldn't believe what I was hearing! How could this happen to me, a flamboyant Swinger?! I was devastated by this sudden change in my life. Butch took me home and left me laying in his yard. He didn't even bother to use my kickstand.

There's no doubt that if my paint and chrome were still shining, this would never have happened to me. But it did. If only Joseph had kept me flamboyant and shiny. Within a year I was propped against a wall next to a shed in the backyard and forgotten. I was left to ponder how I, a once vibrant and important bicycle, had become a forgotten relic.

Several years passed and Butch's family where moving away. Butch had no interest in taking me along so he rolled me and my flat tires down the street back to Joseph's house. I was excited by the prospect of being reunited with Joseph but also ashamed of how rusty I had become. Mr. Fields answered the door and Butch explained why he was there. I was disappointed to hear that Joseph had moved away to attend college. After Butch had gone Mr. Fields rolled me to the space behind the stairs and stood there staring at me with a thoughtful smile on his face and then turned and walked back in the house. I sadly thought to myself, "Perfect".

Now the years turned into decades as I sat in that space behind the stairs. I had collected a lot of dust but at least I was out of the rain. In my sad condition, I couldn't stop thinking about what Mark II had told me so many years before, and it was true. I am no better than any other bike. I am not special. Without my flamboyant paint and shiny chrome, I am nothing.

Eventually, Mr. Fields grew old and passed away. Some people came and were clearing out the house throwing some of the things away. Convinced that no one could ever love such a rusty bike as myself, I was content to finally leave this place just as Mr. Fields had.

As I sat there behind the stairs, waiting for the inevitable, I heard a familiar voice. It was Joseph! He had returned! I was so nervous. How would he react to seeing me in this condition? As he rounded the corner I could see him for the first time in decades. He had grown so much! He came straight towards me and a smile came over his face. He didn't even seem to notice all of my rust! With strong hands, he lifted me, carried me out, and placed me in the back of his truck. I felt as happy as I did when we first met on that Christmas morning! I was going home with Joseph!

We traveled for most of the day before arriving at Joseph's house. Once there, he took me out of his truck and into a nice clean garage and set me right next to a very flamboyant sports car! I couldn't help but think that I must have influenced that decision. Joseph now had his own family and he brought them in to see me. At first, I was embarrassed for anyone to see me this way but that quickly passed as I listened to Joseph tell stories about some of our greatest adventures!

Joseph would spend lots of time in the garage over the next few years and even though I was completely unrideable, I was content to be hanging on his wall and back with my old friend. However, I still thought about the good times we once had out on the roads and secretly dreamed about riding again. Early one day I overheard Joseph talking on the phone about me. He was discussing with someone about a man who worked on bikes and how he was thinking about giving me to him. At first, I was upset by the thought of being separated again. But the more I thought about being repaired, the more I realized just how much I missed that feeling of the wind in my spokes. It had been a very long time. There was nothing else said about it and after a few days I dismissed the whole thing.

The next week Joseph was busy loading his sports car into the trailer and preparing to take his annual Spring trip to spend the weekend with his car friends. He always looked forward to that event. The time came for him to leave and unexpectedly he took me from the wall and set me in the back of his truck. We were going on an adventure together again!

The next morning we arrived and there were lots of people and other sports cars all around. The cars were all just alike except for the different colors. Flamboyant colors! It reminded me of my first day at the factory around all of the other Swingers.

After we got settled in, a man came up to Joseph and asked about 'the bike'. It had not occurred to me until that very moment why I was there. This was all happening so fast! As they walked toward me Joseph extended his hand toward me and said; "Well James, what do you think?". As James walked closer he had an unmistakable expression on his face. I had seen that look one other time in my life. James replied, "Wow, a Swinger! I love it!". With all of my rust, I never expected to hear those words again. I was suddenly filled with the same type of feeling I had felt on that Christmas morning when I first met Joseph!

James wanted to know everything about me and Joseph answered all of his questions. As I listened to them talk, I also learned more about our own story. He told James about his regret for trading me to Butch and how happy he was to learn that I was returned home. He had asked Mr. Fields to keep me in a safe place until he could eventually come back for me. My heart was warmed to learn that Joseph had never forgotten me through all of the years that we were apart. Before we parted that day, James promised Joseph that he would see to it that I would be well taken care of. I felt sad that I would not be going home with Joseph but I also felt even closer to him knowing that he had given me up so that I could have a better life.

James and I spent many hours together over the next few months while he meticulously cleaned and repaired me back to a ridable condition. I could tell that he had a passion for what he did. My paint and chrome were still far from their original glory, but that didn't matter to James. He saw me as a bicycle with a history worth preserving instead of hiding it under a flamboyant coat of paint.

When James took us out for our first ride, it was a moment of pure bliss. I realized that the true essence of a bicycle was not in its appearance but in the joy it brought when ridden. The wind in my spokes, the freedom of the open road—those were the things that defined a bicycle, and I had found my true purpose once more.

As I rolled along under James' guidance, I understood that flamboyant colors and bright chrome might catch the eye, but it was the shared experiences and the love of a rider that truly defined a bicycle. In the end, I had come full circle, from abandonment to rediscovery, and I had learned the most important lesson of all—the value of being loved for who I am, battle scars and all.


The end.
 
Beautiful story! Almost had me tearing up.
Thanks Chad, I'm glad you liked it.

Since my only plan for Sid was a few minor repairs and to clean and grease everything, I had intended to submit the story in short chapters once a week during the build-off to keep my journal interesting. I figured a weekly serial book would be fun for me to write and might be something that everyone else could follow along with. I can remember looking forward to every installment of @GuitarlCarl 's Thunderbolt Grease Slapper saga!

When I posted the book cover shortly after the build-off started, it didn't generate any interest. So that along with being busy with other life things at the time convinced me to scrap the idea. I had already written the first few paragraphs so after the build-off closed, I decided to finish it and post it here for something to do during vote week.

I may have to write an epilogue next Spring after I take Sid back to the car show for the original owner to see!
 

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