Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Guess Where I've Been...

My good friend Carol, her son Tyler, his girl Jessica and Carol's youngest son, Colin, invited me to meet them in Moab for a few days. I had Friday off, so I took them up on the invitation. Since Tyler was the only one of the bunch which had ever been to Moab, I was basically enlisted as tour guide.

And, that's always cool with me. I enjoy showing people the places which hold special significance to me, and introduce them to a different style of mountain biking than what we find here on the Front Range of Colorado. So, I met the bunch of them in Moab, after they spent the first part of the week in Glenwood Springs.

Our first ride was a short jaunt on the Slickrock Practice Loop. Colin and his mom took to the rock pretty well, after the initial strangeness wore off.

Carol rode my bike, since Jess was riding Carol's M2.

I was pretty impressed that she rode as well as she did on a bike one size too big, sporting On-One Midge bars and friction bar-end shifters!

The group at Echo Point

She rode her own bike on Amasa Back, though, and I pulled Colin on the Trail-A-Bike. I'm not sure the T-A-B people had 2 foot high rock-ledge drops and huge slickrock climbs in mind when they designed their product, but it seems to work pretty well in some fairly gnarly circumstances.

We dropped off of stuff I wouldn't have dreamed of dropping on my own. The beauty of the Trail-A-Bike is that you have a counterweight cantilevered off of the rear of your bike, and you know there's no way in Hell you're going to go over bars. Gives you a lot of confidence. The steering is weird, though, and you occasionally just have to follow the bike rather than picking your best line.

On Friday morning, Carol and I rode the Porcupine Rim Trail up to High Anxiety overlook, and back. The morning temps were decent for riding, but I didn't want to be in the lower canyon part of the ride at noon, so we did the out and back option.

I rode the fixed gear, after I finally got the bottom bracket adjusted. I had noticed that the bottom bracket had loosened up on the Slickrock Practice Loop, and realized that I didn't have a bottom bracket lockring tool with me. That was once a tool you wouldn't dream of going to Moab without; but no longer.

Since everyone has cartridge BB's now, the bottom bracket adjuster is no longer the indispensible tool it once was. So, I didn't think to bring one on this trip, to accomodate the old-school fixed gear. I managed to get it adjusted using a crescent wrench, a cone wrench and a big rock.

The big rock...nature's all-purpose tool.

Our last morning in Moab was spent touring Arches national Park, including a hike out to Delicate Arch. Of course, everything is an adventure, and we got off the trail and turned a 3 mile hike into a 5 mile death-march. Still, I think everyone found the experience worth it when all was said and done.

Today, it was back to reality. I did my laundry, mowed the yard here at World Headquarters, packed and shipped a fixie I had finished before going out of town, and started getting another one ready... all part of the rock-star Grinder Bikes lifestyle!


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Just Another Cager

Last week I rode my bike to work five days in a row. I had decided to put in a full week of bike commuting, regardless of weather, or any other considerations, and just get some spinning in.

Having made that decision early in the week made it quite easy to get going in the mornings. There was none of the usual hemming and hawing about whether or not to ride. I just got up, put on the shorts, loaded up the messenger bag and took off.

I felt good about it.

This week, however, events are conspiring to keep me from riding. I've had things to haul, far-flung errands, etc. And, I feel...guilty.

I have driven to work the past two days, feeling vaguely as if I'm doing something wrong. I find myself looking away from motorcyclists and bicyclists so that I don't meet their eyes. I almost want to put on a mask so that they can't see my face.

And this is all because I know how they see me; just another jerk in a 4-wheel drive truck, doing the zombie shuffle down the road while they live in the open air. They see me the way I usually see guys like me.

Just another cager.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Flattered...Aggravated? Can't Decide.

I was looking at Craigslist, today, and there was an ad for a "Vintage Road Bike 57cm , Ultralightweight, Mint Condition". I scrolled down to the bottom to look at the picture, and immediatley noticed that it wasn't a picture of the Nishiki road bike being listed.

As I looked at it, I couldn't help but feel that it looked familiar. Then, it dawned on me that I was looking at one of my bikes from the website gallery! It's a Peugeot singlespeed commuter I built up for a fellow so that he would have a bike to throw on the bus rack. It has a kickstand on it so that he doesn't have to lean it up on something at the bus stop, as he waits for his ride.

I emailed the lister, asking him why he was using this picture, but I haven't heard from him.

I don't think I like having people use pictures of my bikes in order to sell their own. I take great care to build nice bikes, and I want the credit for it! But, I don't want to be a jerk about it.

Still, I think I'll request that he take the ad down and relist without my (copyrighted) picture, or else credit me for the picture with an explanation so that people won't think they are buying a completely different bike.

UPDATE: I received an apologetic email from the lister, and he put up another picture with an explanatory note. I told him he could use my picture if he put an explanation on, but it looks like he found a closer match to his bike somewhere else.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Bike To Work Day

So, this past Wednesday was Bike To Work Day, and I rode my bike (get this) to work!

Now, I ride my bike to work pretty frequently, though not as much as I should. It's only a 9 mile trip, one way, on mostly neighborhood streets. Lots of STOP signs and busy road crossings, but actually a pretty pleasant ride around 6:00 AM. , and takes about a half hour in each direction. So, basically, it was just a coincidence that I rode on the designated day.

As I rode in, I noticed quite a few more bike commuters than usual. That's to be expected. Many people ride their bike to work on Bike To Work Day, even though they never ride it, otherwise. And, that's my gripe with BTWD.

By making such a big deal of riding in (free T-shirts, food stops, etc.), the BTWD organizers reinforce the idea that most of the population has about bicycle commuting. That is, bike commuting is an Adventure...A Big Deal...Out Of The Ordinary! They ride their bike in on this one day, eat their cream cheese on a bagel at the breakfast stop, and ride home in their new BTWD T-shirt feeling all warm and toasty about being a "bicycle commuter". Then, they go back to their automobile commute and never even consider riding in to work until the next year's BTWD.

I propose that we abolish Bike To Work Day, and replace it with "Don't Bike To Work Day". Maybe then, these people will commute on their bike every day, and the "Big Adventure" will be to drive a car in to work on one day out of the year.

Yeah, right.

It amazes me that as a society, we respond to higher gas prices by trying to figure out how to get more money for gas (pawn shops in Denver have reported a surge in business as people trade in their possessions for gas money) rather than by trying to figure out how to use less gas. It's so simple: Drive less and you will spend less money on gas!

I bought my shack of a house, rather than a nicer suburban model for the same price, just because of the neighborhood. I am within 2 miles of theaters, grocery stores, coffee shops, bike shops, you name it. I was within a mile and half of work until they moved us to a new location this year. I bike for most of my errands (hell, I could walk if I wanted to), and just use the truck if I have to carry something big and heavy, or deal with really inclement weather.

I do cheat and ride the motorcycle to work, quite a bit, simply because I'm lazy and like the Vroom-Vroom sounds my motorbikes make. Still, I use little enough gas that the recent price increases haven't really affected my way of life. I use the motor vehicles the way that most people I know use their bikes; as recreation and emergency transport. And I use my bicycles as my primary transport.

My Commuter Fleet in front of World Headquarters

So, let's make the last Wednesday in January National Don't Bike To Work Day, and just have bicycle commuting become the norm.