This Machine May Save the World

*words follow the pictures

If you're like me, when cigarette smoke wafts into your apartment through the electrical outlets for the 1000th time and makes you an unwitting conscript in your downstairs neighbor's apparent campaign to commit suicide-by-cancer, it makes you want to bio-engineer a hemorrhagic fever pandemic that will provide significant opportunity for lateral and vertical movement in the resulting real estate buyer's market.

Or perhaps you go for a bicycle ride. To each their own.

In fairness, I usually go for a bike ride also. As matter of fact, in addition to acting as an effective way to cope with acute Antipathy to Simple Simians Emitting Smoke (ASSES), it is also an effective way to treat all manner of psychological discomfort. It has been scientifically proven that it is impossible to feel sadness of any kind while riding a bicycle.

Which brings us to the pictures above. This machine makes me happy. Its a 1983 Japanese-built, Fuji Espree road bike that has been converted for fixed-gear use (just in case you missed the pop-culture phenomenon: "fixed gear" means that the motion of the wheel is fixed to the motion of the pedals; which means as long as the wheels are moving, so are your feet. There is no coasting, homie). I bought it last winter from a great bike shop in Detroit called The HubWhen I first got it, it looked like this:

Courtesy of The Hub
It rode great, fit me perfectly, and it didn't look bad for a 30-year-old bike. But it didn't look like "me", per se. Eventually, I knew I would give the bike a dark grey paint scheme to match my dark grey personality.

That eventuality came about 9 months later when in a Machinist-like mania I took a hacksaw to the toptube cable guides, sanded off the neighboring paint and effectively committed to getting the bike painted (otherwise, the exposed steel would rust).  The Hub also handled the painting; or more accurately, they handled the powder coating. I have to say, I think they did an excellent job.

I've already spent dozens of hours and at least 250 miles with this magical metal and rubber machine.  With the new paint and new wheels, it's practically like a new bike. I expect it will last a long time – perhaps it will even outlast my downstairs neighbor's lease. For the sake of humanity, let's hope it outlasts my downstairs neighbor's lease.

Noah Stephens  is a photographer, essayist and founder of  The People of Detroit Photodocumentary - a media project dedicated to dynamic, interesting  people in the storied birthplace of American auto manufacturing.  Since its inception in April 2010,  TPOD has received national and international attention. Portraits from the project have appeared in Bloomberg BusinessWeekFast Company and other national publications. 

In early 2011, a creative director saw the project on flickr.com and hired Noah to shoot an ad campaign for McDonald's Corporation in Shanghai, China. 

The People of Detroit Photodocumentary is funded in part by a grant from CEOS for Cities and the John S. And James L. Knight Foundation.

[keywords: fuji espree, anthracite grey, grey track bike, gray track bike, gray fixie, grey fixie, gray track bike, vintage grey bike]

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