I will beg everyone to pardon my enthusiasm as I enjoy the gift I received for my recent 54th birthday – a red and black Huffy bicycle with a gasoline engine.

I make no excuse for the fact the motorized bicycle brings out the little boy in me. In fact, that's clearly what makes the whole thing so much fun.

And, this project has been a full year in the making with challenges we could have never anticipated. My friend Shannon Lee, who installed the relatively simple engine and drive system, became a father shortly after the bike went up on the work rack. Somehow, he managed to find a few minutes between parental duties and got it all together.

The bike itself was a gift from my wife for my 53rd birthday, purchased specifically for this purpose. You must understand, at that time I had 20 to 30 bikes under the carport awaiting refurbishment, but none were quite right. I had a bunch of mountain bikes and road bikes and 1970s-style 10 speed models, but the engine kit is built for the classic no-gear/coaster brake bike known as a “Beach Cruiser.”

Ideal for a casual ride along a beach, the beach cruiser is not a great style for riding around the mountains of Kentucky. Cruisers tend to be heavy, with an upright riding posture and no springs to take the punch of our often rough riding surfaces.

Smack a small engine in the middle of the frame and run a sprocket and chain to the rear wheel, however, and it becomes a whole different story.

“They break down a lot because they basically shake themselves apart as they run,” Mr. Lee advised as we worked to get the chain aligned at his dad's shop in Wurtland last week, before adding, “I carry tools with me anytime I ride mine.”

I have a pair of saddlebags and a rack to add to the back of my new ride, which should allow a proper selection of tools for roadside repair work.

I already owe a salute to the folks at nearby James ATV & Cycle, who earned an afternoon headache trying to make the original chain (and a tension wheel) function. Ultimately, they used their experience to eliminate the poorly engineered tension device, and replaced the pieced-together chain (no kidding, it was junk of a level they’d never before seen) which came with the engine kit.

I got to ride her around my neighborhood that evening, but somehow pulled a ground wire loose in the process. Journalist and electronics nerd Jeremy D. Wells stepped in and crimped my connections, however, and I was able to make a breakfast ride Friday morning.

It was so refreshing and invigorating, I didn’t even need my morning coffee afterwards. Using a phone app to track progress, my top speed on level ground, so far, has been 13.5 miles-per-hour. I’m observing a proper “break in” period for the two-stroke engine, which means I have to get roughly another 100 miles in before filling the small fuel tank with a higher octane gas and a leaner oil mixture to get closer to the machine’s full potential of 2.75 horsepower.

The red and black bicycle also needs a name. I have an area artist on standby ready to paint the bike’s gas tank in the style of a World War II airplane with “pinup girl” nose art. The bike’s new name must reflect the beautiful and curvaceous redhead (based on my own lovely wife) at the center of that scene.

“Screamin’ Scarlet,” is the leading the suggestions at this time, but I’m open to all suggestions.

Sports Park

Grayson officials are moving forward after Friday’s deadline for a second round of bids for construction work at the city’s proposed sports park facility attracted zero offers to get the job done.

“Although we were surprised that no contractors submitted bid packages, this now frees us up to negotiate with any contractors for any parts of the project,” said Park Board chairperson Mindy Woods-Click.

“Although this puts us behind schedule. We still fully anticipate beginning construction this fall.”

The sports park is being funded by a local restaurant tax. That tax, which has been in place for some time now, adds three cents to every dollar you spend at any of Grayson’s restaurants.

Your three-cents worth?

As a consumer, I ask readers to advise if that three-percent increase has influenced their approach to buying breakfast, lunch, dinner or even snacks and treats, in Grayson.

Tim Preston can be reached at tpreston@journal-times.com or by telephone at (606) 474-5101.

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