Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Nice, Chilly Commute

Wintertime commuting can be an adventure. Breath freezes in my mustache and beard, eyelashes freeze together, and icy roads present some hazards, as well (mostly dodging cars whose drivers forget that ice can be slick, sometimes).

Today was a good winter commute day.

As I rode home, the temperature was hovering around 5 degrees F, with a windchill in the neighborhood of 24 below, according to the TV news. It was a bit chilly, but I was well-dressed for it (one of the few times I am ever well-dressed), with the exception of my socks. I could have used just a little more warmth on the toes.

The snow was coming down as fine little flakes, and I actually had a tailwind, so the ride was actually pretty pleasant. It's supposed to get colder, overnight, so tomorrow's ride promises to be a little more of an adventure.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Another solo NYD Ride

For quite a few years I have made a habit of ringing in the New Year by taking a bicycle ride, if possible. I've missed a few because of travel or illness, but I have made a ride on most Jan.-1's since the mid 90s.

For many years, I would invite people to join me, first by personally asking friends and bike shop customers, later by email. In the early years, I would have quite a few people (8-15) show up, and we would take a nice long ride around town.

In 2008, Danny Mac, Rich and Brian showed up for a snowy, sub-10-degree ride.

In 2009, Mark, Brian and Carl (of the blog getinlost) rode with me in mid-50s temps.

Carl showed up again, in 2010, along with Mark and a fellow named Tom (who worked at a local bike co-op), and while the temps were in the 40s, the roads around town were snow-packed.

Tom joined my nephew, Kyle, and me in 2011 for another snow-pack ride.

In 2012, I simply rode to the coffee shop and back. Temps were mild, roads were dry, but nobody was interested in a ride. I spent the warmest part of the day changing shocks out on the Scrambler.

In 2013, I didn't even ride on NYD. I was still recovering from Achilles Tendonitis, and biking was not an easy or frequent thing for me, that winter.

In 2014, I took a solo ride on the Mongoose Beast fat tire bike which I had converted to multiple speeds, and disc brakes. I ended up calling Mark, while I was out, and hooked up for a short ride with him.

2015 was the infamous rib-breaker ride. Not my best day on a bike.

Last year ... I was out of town and I didn't get a ride in. Oh, well...

Today, the roads were clear, and the sun was out, so I took a short 10-mile ride which took me to Kaladi, on the final leg, where I had coffee and a scone. It was a nice ride, though it seemed a little more difficult than it should have. Since I had the flu, a couple of weeks ago, I haven't ridden the bike enough to mention.

I stopped on the low-water bridge over Cherry Creek, behind the mall, to say hello to a few mallards.

Another NYD tradition...

Here's hoping that a nice ride, today, bodes well for the coming year!

Happy New Year, everyone!


Monday, December 26, 2016

Post-Christmas Post

I hope that everyone had a good Christmas. I decided to stay in Denver for the holidays, this year, and seeing the news about airport madness here and other places make me glad that I did.

I spent the day on Christmas Eve at Fermaentra, sipping a couple of beers and working on an art project that I want to maintain some momentum on.  Christmas Day was awesome. I called my family, first off, then went over to the Clicks' for breakfast, then on to the Max house for dinner.

I didn't get home until 1:00 AM!

Here's a short little bit of test footage from the art project (an animated music video):

It's shaky because I "filmed" it with the time-lapse feature on the cell phone.  It's a lot of work, but fun!


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Flu-bie Doobie Doo

I have been under the weather for the better part of the week. Monday afternoon, the annoying cough and itchy throat I had experienced for a couple of days welcomed a fever and extreme fatigue into the mix. I slept from 7:30, Monday night, to 1:00 Tuesday afternoon, and I slept 16 to 18 hours a day until yesterday, when I cut waaaay back to 12 hours.

Today was the first day I woke up feeling human, which was convenient since I had about 6 inches of (thankfully, powdery) snow to shovel off of the walk and drive. It was a little cool out, but it warmed up nicely by the time I went out to shovel...

It warmed up from 1 degree above zero (F) to 2 degrees above zero! I took advantage of the balmy temps to shovel, and let the van warm up before driving to Kaladi for my first coffee in 5(!) days.

(As a side note, the Dodge wouldn't even turn over since, I assume, I haven't driven it enough lately to keep the battery charged. This is one of the many reasons that I do not want two cars at once!)

I posted this photo of The Chick Magnet on FB, this morning, after I got to the coffee shop. This was my first drive in any significant amount of snow, and it went really well. While it's not quite as easy as driving in 4wd, the studded tires do make it a lot easier than normal tires do.

It's looking more and more like the Dodge is going to go away, and the Astro Van is going to stick around. It's a handy vehicle for me, and I am oddly fond of it, already. Of course, like any used vehicle, it could go completely south on me, at any time. That's why I am waiting just a bit longer before I make the final decision.


Metisse Guitar

Metisse is a French word meaning "a woman of mixed heritage". I can think of no better word to describe this guitar.

She started life as a mid-80s Asian-made (I think Taiwan, at that time) Harmony. I bought it at the flea market, outside my home town in Tennessee, 6 or 7 years ago. My oldest nephew took it home, for a few years, and I ended up bringing it home with me, last year, after a visit to Pennsylvania.

 I never really liked the headstock shape on these guitars, so I slightly reshaped the profile, did a nice set-up, and used it once or twice for solo gigs over at Fermaentra. It was just fine as it was so, of course, I decided I needed to modify it.

For some reason, I was craving a rosewood fingerboard on this guitar. I like the "woodier" feel of the rosewood grain, as opposed to the smoother maple, and I just thought it would look good in contrast to the blonde finish on the body. The original look was a little too monochromatic for me.

The easiest way to change fingerboards on a bolt-neck guitar?  A new neck.

So, I started watching eBay and, after a few weeks, I saw this Squire Bullet neck for $50.00, free shipping. I hit the "Buy It Now" button and, a few days later, the neck was in the house. Today, I decided the time was ripe to swap the necks.

Now, I have the Metisse; a 1980s plywood Harmony with a new Indonesian Squire Bullet neck on it. Not the fanciest guitar I own, but it has its place in the stable.

I'll probably swap the tuners out, eventually. That is always the weak point on the imported Fender product necks. The intonation is fine, the frets are nice and level, and the neck has a nice profile. Sounds good, feels good ... it's all good.

I might get a custom "Metisse" decal made for it, just for grins. Then again, I might just leave the Squire logo on it. It doesn't really affect the sound or playability, after all.


Monday, December 05, 2016

Snow and Cold Are In the Forecast

So, I busted out the fixed gear Surly 1x1 snowbike. Studded 26 x 2.2" Conti on the back, and a studded 26 x 4" 45NRTH Dillinger on the front.

The hand warmers are probably the best investment I ever made for winter riding. It is simply amazing how much of a difference those things make when the temps dip down below 30 degrees.

I haven't ridden a whole lot, lately. I commuted by bike a couple of days, last week, and I felt the effort, afterward. Riding on snow and ice will be a little harder, but I am looking forward to it, actually. Adventure Commuting is my favorite.

Low temps on Wednesday and Thursday are supposed to be around 0 degrees F to -5F. Since I leave for work at about 5:15, on the bike, I fully expect to be out during the low temperature time, those days. Fun, fun!


Saturday, December 03, 2016

The Chick Magnet

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a 1998 Chevy Astro Van from a guy up in Clear Creek County. I've been wanting a vehicle which gets better mileage than the Big Damn Dodge, but which would still be useful for hauling things around. I couldn't find a 1966 Dodge van with A/C, so I started looking at Astro/Safari vans from the late 90's.

Anyway, I found this one, cheap, and bought it. Then, I took it to my mechanic and spent almost as much as I paid for the van in order to get it safe and reliable (and to make it pass emissions testing). Today, I put a new battery in it, so I think it's good to go for the most part. There are some small things (broken outer door handle on the passenger door, stereo/speakers) that I will take care of as time goes by, but the van is on the road.
 The Chick Magnet

I call it the Chick Magnet, ironically, but I actually do kind of dig the looks of it.

It's not perfect, but it sure is useful. The two rear bench seats come out, allowing a 4x8 sheet of plywood to lie flat. So, it is at least as utilitarian as the Dodge, for hauling. I can't get the motorbike in it, but I can't get the motorbike in the Dodge, either, as it sits too high for my ramp (plus it has a hard cover on the bed, which is a real pain to remove).

Here it is with one bench out, the other still in place. We have a show, tonight, and I am hoping that we can load everything up, in this configuration. If so, that means that all three of us could load up and head down to the Springs, or up into the hills for a show, if need be.

Worst case scenario is that both seats will have to come out, in order to haul all of the gear. If that is the case, I will devise some sort of jump seat arrangement in order to get us all on the road.

 I like the "half hatchback/half barn door" arrangement on the back.

The only real worry I have with the van is that it is 2-wheel drive. It has studded snow tires on it, right now, and I did test-drive it in the snow, where it did fine. Getting to work is not a worry, since I typically ride the bicycle to work when it snows. I just want to make sure we can get to and from gigs with the band.

If I get through a couple of snowstorms with no problem, I plan to sell the Dodge. I really don't want to own two trucks at once.

I also plan on building or buying a camp cot/storage unit to slide into the back, so that I can use the van as a mini-camper. Maybe I'll throw a Thule cargo box on top, too, if I can find one cheap.

All in all, I am pretty fond of The Chick Magnet, even though I realize it may well be the least-cool vehicle I have owned since my beloved 4-door Chevette (which I still miss).