Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Monday, May 29, 2006

First Ride on the New Fixed Mountain Bike

My good friend Randy Caley asked me to go on a mountain bike ride at Elk Meadow, on Sunday. So, I made sure to get the KHS-framed fixie mountain bike finished on Saturday.

Sunday morning rolled around, and I picked Randy up at his house. After we loaded up the bike I built for him last year, we took off. Half an hour later and we were at the trail head. Randy snapped a shot of my new bike, before I had a chance to scratch it up, and we took off.

Elk Meadow is a popular Open Space Park outside of Evergreen, Colorado, and has a good mix of trails ranging from smooth, wide-open beginner trails to a monster climb up Bergen Peak. Randy and I were heading for for some really nice singletrack in the woods, falling about half way between the two extremes.

I was a little concerned about the On-One Mungo bars on the mountain bike. The ends of the bars are pretty much parallel to the bike frame, unlike the slightly splayed version I had been riding on the Cafe Scorcher. About five minutes into the ride, all of my doubts were erased. The Mungo put my hands in a nice relaxed position, and allowed for plenty of leverage on the climbs. I was enjoying the ride immensely.

Randy took a couple of little tumbles (one of which would play well on one of those Extreme! Video! Shows!), and seemed to be getting a little frustrated. We dropped the air pressure in the Conti Leader Pro on the front of his bike, and things smoothed out considerably. I have always been amazed by how sensitive that particular tire is to air pressure. The difference between 45 psi and 40 psi can mean the difference between riding and crashing, in many conditions.

Randy's knees took a little bit of a beating, but nothing serious.

This ride was the "shakedown cruise" for the new bike, so I was really looking for problems which might need addressing. The one thing I found was that the drive-side crank was slightly bent, and hit the chainstay every time it went by. Apparently the torque on the left arm would flex everything just enough to make the right side hit as it went by. That was mainly just an annoyance. It became a problem when the end of the crank arm hooked the chain as I dropped off of a water bar, wrenching the rear tire to the side and locking it up.

Luckily, I was going slowly enough that I didn't crash. After we got rolling again, I found a gate post close enough to a fence post that I was able to lift the bike and slip the the crank arm between them. Then, using the bike as a lever, I carefully tweaked the crankarm straight. No problem for the rest of the ride.

I told Randy that if he was keeping a diary he should make that day's entry read, "Perfect weather for mountain biking." The temps were in the mid-seventies, the sun was shining and the breeze was cooling, but not intrusive. Down in Denver, Brad was finding that the wind was very intrusive as he rode south to Parker, on his way to his sister's house for a cookout. So, we lucked out, up in Evergreen.

We also lucked out in our timing. When we pulled into the parking lot at the trail head, I had my pick of about 10 parking spaces out of 25. When we were loading up to leave, a lady sat in the driveway waiting to get our parking spot as we left, since every other legal (and a couple of bootleg) parking spaces were full.

All in all, the "shakedown cruise" was a success.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

New Bike For Burd

Burd Phillips (my website guru) decided he wanted a bike with multiple gears, a while back. Recently, he mentioned it,again, and I showed him this 1984 Centurion ProTour 15 I had hanging around World Headquarters. It's a 63cm frame, and pretty much all stock. It was only missing the rack.

Burd thought it was pretty cool, so I told him I would send it to him. I also told him to let me know what modifications he wanted on it (rack, etc.) and I would get it done ASAP.

A rack, fenders and aero brake levers were requested. So, I went down into the catacombs and searched through my parts. I found some late 80's Shimano aero levers with black hoods, and the fenders from a Peugeot 3-speed, with an integrated rear rack.

The fenders fit on the bike, but the mounting hardware didn't really work on the Centurion. No problem, I thought, I'll just find some clamps for the fender stays and get 'em on. Of course, the more I thought of it, the less I wanted to put clamps on a touring bike which has threaded eyelets for all kinds of accessories. Time to do a little fabrication (and I ain't lying).

Step one: Take some aluminum bar stock and drill holes for the bolts and eyelet clamps.

Step two: Cut the bar stock into 4 pieces, each with two holes.

Step three: Shape the fittings roughly with the angle grinder.

Step four: A little filing, and you have four mounting brackets.

Then, with the addition of some spacers to provide some clamping action, it's possible to securely mount the fenders and adjust their position.

The next step was very straightforward: Replace the old-school brake levers with the aero versions. Jut to add a little complexity, I decided to also install some cyclcross-style "interrupter" levers so Burd can brake from the tops of the bars, as well as from the hoods or drops. I figure if he's commuting around Indy, he might want to keep his head up.

So, now it's all done. I just need to let Burd look at it and see if it meets his approval before shipping it off.

I think it turned out pretty nice, myself.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

More French-style Goodness

A new Peugeot is in the Grinder Bikes fleet. I haven't converted it to fixie yet (customer bikes take precedence), but soon I will. It is a UO8 which was upgraded to alloy wheels back in the day (beautiful Mavic rims on Normandy hubs).

The PX10 is now officially for sale, and should appear on the site, soon. I sent the copy and pix to Burd so that he could post it on the For Sale page. It is a beautiful bike, but a tad too nice for me.
It was fun building it and "restoring" the cosmetics. It may well be the prettiest bike I've ever built. I just hope someone buys it and rides it. It's been hanging on a hook since I finished it, and it is too cool of a bike to be hidden away in the storage shed.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Sweet Smell of Denver

I took a bike ride the other day and noticed something about older Denver neighborhoods which had never occurred to me.

I live in a 70 year old house, in a neighborhood which grew up around it about 40 or 50 years ago and
I routinely ride through some of the older neighborhoods (houses up to 100 years old, down to 50). I was doing just that when it hit me: Every 50 yards or so I was getting a nice strong whiff of Lilac.

Having noticed this, I started paying attention as I rode along. Near as I can tell, Lilac must have been the most popular flowering shrub in town at the turn of the 20th Century, and remained fairly popular up until about 30 or 40 years ago, here in Denver.

In the newer, suburban, neighborhoods Lilacs are rare as hen's teeth. I feel sorry for the people there, who don't have that whiff of flowery heaven waiting as they walk or ride through the streets around their homes.

This one is at the front corner of my house. I have been through 3 Spring seasons in this place, and never realized this was Lilac, since it never bloomed before this year. The bushes in my back yard have bloomed every year that I've been here, and are even more fragrant this year than they have been.

Makes me think that the weather and/or moisture conditions must have been just right for Lilac, this year, here on the Front Range. That would explain why they have have made such an impression on me lately.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Birthday Ride (No Birthday Suits, Please!)

I'm 45, today, so I am planning a 45 mile ride on Saturday to celebrate making it this far. I'll be sending an email, but if you are reading this, you are invited even if I miss your email address.

I'll be at Kaladi Brothers around 8:00 AM, Saturday, and will leave at about 10:00. I have no real agenda or route planned, but I'll be riding fixie (as usual) and will probably stop for coffee at least once during the ride.

So, come on out and go for a ride; rain or shine, snow or heat, Hell or high water.