Rochester Hills PCT Bicycle Club

September 4, 2005
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This story is about the third ride we did this holiday (Labor Day) weekend.  I had plans to visit Dianeís family out at the lake on Sunday September 4, 2005, so a bike ride seemed out to the question for this day.  Luckily Melissa had to work Sunday evening/night and she and couldnít find anyone to cover for her so we had to leave the lake relatively early.  This opened the evening back up for me.   

Pete was planning to go to our friend Rickís house for a pinball party Sunday night and I was invited as well, but I had to decline because I thought I would still be out at the lake.  Once my plans changed I contacted Pete and told him to wait for me and I would join him after all.  Pete was planning to swing by and pick me up in his new black Dodge Magnum.  I called Pete and suggested we ride over to Rickís since it is relatively close.  Even though we knew it would be dark for the ride home we didnít let this stop us.  The route to Rickís is bike paths all the way, so it is a safe ride even in the dark.  My bike has a nice head light that does a decent job of lighting up an area out front, so I am comfortable riding in the dark. 

Rick is a good host and he has a very nice collection of pinball machines and other arcade type games, like a bubble hockey game, a really nice old ball bowler, juke box and a few video games.  The ball bowler is a really cool game.  It is has been cleaned up and rebuilt to its current state which is outstanding.  A ball bowler is a like a small bowling alley.  It is about 3 or 4 feet wide by about 12 to 14 feet long and the lane sits about 2 feet off the ground.  It is an electro-mechanical game with score wheels same as the type on all my electro-mechanical pinball machines.  There are ten pins that hang down from independent pivots and when you roll the small wooden ball down the lane there are wires sticking up in the lane that are hooked to switches.  When the ball goes over certain wires located the entire width of the lane you get various results, just like real bowling.  To get a strike you need to put the ball in the pocket, either regular side or Brooklyn, again just like real bowling.  When the pins are hit they pivot up out of the way so what is left are the just the remaining pins, this way you have a good visual of the pins that are left for your second ball.  Pete and I both spent quite a bit of time playing the ball bowler at the party.  I even converted the dreaded 7-10 split, not once but twice during the evening. 

I also enjoyed playing a few of Rickís newer pinball games.  He has a High Speed 2 that was fun and he also has an Elvis game that is probably only about one year old.  The Elvis game was really fun and I especially liked this game because when they designed it they incorporated some features from the old electro-mechanical games I like to collect.  It is the best of both worlds, new with a little old style, kind of like ďhot iceĒ, the best of both worlds.  I also played a couple games of bubble hockey which is always fun.  Pete hooked up with a guy named Phil and they played quite a few games of hockey together as well as bowling.  Phil was almost as loud as Pete and together they made quite the vocal pair. 

Rick had pop and beer on ice in a cooler to drink and a few snacks set out, I told you Rick was a good host.  As the night went on Rick ordered some pizza which was delivered and we all had a couple pieces.  We all chipped in a little money to help Rick pay for the pizza and drinks, it just seemed like a decent thing to do.  As usual, Pete didnít have any money so I had to chip in an extra $10 to cover him.  Overall the party was a lot of fun and it wasnít a huge group of people so it wasnít too crowded and I was able to move around and play almost all the games. 

Recently I made a pinball machine trade with Rick.  I had been looking for a Bally Flicker pinball machine for quite a few years without any luck.  Rick happened to stumble across a really nice condition Flicker a couple months ago and he spent a little time and money and did a few upgrades to make the game even better.  Pete arranged a trade of my Gottlieb Big Indian game for Rickís Flicker.  It was an even up trade and we are both happy with the outcome, which is the best situation for all parties.  My Big Indian was also a really nice game and it was working perfect and playing nice before I traded it, just a good fun game.  After we figured out that Rick hadnít plugged in all the cables to the back box when he re-assembled the Big Indian in his basement, the game continued to play great with everything working.  I was kind of proud that the Big Indian was one of his best working and playing electro-mechanical games that night.  Pete should also be proud since actually he arranged the original trade with Mr. Turkey that got me that game in the first place.  That is a whole other story that I wonít get into here, but if you are interested you can read about the Mr. Turkey trade in Peteís Excellent Homepage, follow this link

After our fill of pizza, snacks, drink and our fill of pinball it was time to head home.  I think it was around 10:30 pm when we left and I got home around 11:00 pm.  As we were getting ready to leave I was putting on my riding gloves and helmet and turning on my spoke reflectors and head light when Pete mentioned he brought a light for the ride home.  Pete has never had a light before so I figured this must be something new.  It ended up being one of those strap on minerís type lights that Pete strapped onto his forehead before putting on his helmet.  As crazy as this sounds it is not an uncommon practice to bike riding.  I have heard of this being done before with mountain bikers.  Pete was extremely proud of his new contraption.  His head was bobbing all over the place with his light following along.  I can only image what the cars on Crooks Road were thinking when they saw Peteís crazy light going all over as we rode along the sidewalk.  The concept of Peteís light is good, but it just isnít strong enough or a wide enough pattern to be sufficient for safe night time riding.  My head light did a real nice job of lighting up our path to make our ride safe.  Safe is definitely a relative term when Pete is on the ride, even in full sun light Pete is an accident just waiting to happen.  I am not sure how he made it all the way home without falling.  To prove to me how good his light was he rode ahead a couple times beyond the pattern of my light just to show how self sufficient he had become.  He lost track of the bike path a couple times and slid onto the grass but each time somehow managed to pull it back together and get back on the path without falling.  At one point we were getting ready to cross the street and we were pulling out into the street from this driveway that looked perfectly safe in the dark.  The driveway actually was covered with a lot of loose pebbles, stones and dirt making it very dangerous.  Again, Pete somehow wildly slid through the debris and maintained his balance.  I slowed down before I approached this drive and I barely slid when going through. 

The rest of the ride home was relatively safe.  It was actually fun to be out riding in the dark of the night.  The temperature was nice, not hot and not cold, very comfortable.  It wasnít pitch black, the moon was out providing a subtle background hue that allowed you to see the outline of large objects.  Pete and I split up at the spot just east of Fairview Farms, where we typically do at the end of a ride.  I rode this last stretch, which is just slightly over one mile, by myself.  Even though I have does this short section to home a  hundred or so times over the past couple years, it definitely felt different in the dark.  Many things were racing through my mind as I pedaled along.  I was wondering what I would do if a deer ran out in front of me.  Then I started thinking if I would do anything different if it was a smaller animal, like a fox or skunk.  I figured the reason I wasnít thinking about coming across a raccoon was because just a couple months ago I pretty much relocated the entire raccoon population near my house.  Diane and I were talking the other day and both of us agreed we no longer look at these masked rodents the same way after our many close encounters this past summer.  Fortunately I didnít run across any animals big or small.  If you missed the story on the raccoons its not too late, here is the link.   

Following are the statistics from this ride, 11.1 miles, 20.5 maximum speed, 11.3 average mph and 58 minutes of time on bikes.  I hope to do more night rides in the future.
David Lindquist 

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