Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Removable Brakes

If you have checked out Burd Phillips' trackstand videos, posted on the front page of the Grinder Bikes site, you have probably noticed that he has a bike set up especially for doing those crazy trick trackstands (trickstands?). I actually just built him a new bike for that purpose, a Miyata frame with 700c wheels and cross tires. He broke one of the 27" wheels on the Motobecane, so I built this bike up hoping it would prove to be a little more durable.

Notice that the bike has neither toeclips nor brakes. Both get in the way when doing the trickstands.

After I sent the bike off, Burd and I emailed back and forth about it, as usual, discussing the finer points of the build. I asked Burd how he liked riding to the video sites with neither clips nor brakes, and he said he wasn't too fond of it. That set me to thinking about how to attach a brake, for use on the way to a video shoot, which could be easily removed with no tools, once there.

This is what I came up with: This is a cyclocross brake lever, with a hinged clamp, and an old-school side-pull brake which attaches with a nut behind the fork crown.

I replaced the clamp bolt on the lever with a longer bolt, onto which I threaded a wing nut and a standard hex nut, with a flat washer and lock washer between them. This created a "wing bolt" which can be tightened with the fingers. Ace is the Place!

Similarly, I replaced the nut on the brake mounting bolt with a wing nut. I then mounted them up on a derelict 62cm Schwinn Continental, which I had set up with a mountain bike bar and 700c wheel to emulate Burd's new bike. This allowed me size the cable housing, even though Burd's bike is already on the way to him. The housing is probably a tad long, but better that than too short.

The set-up actually works quite well. This should allow Burd to navigate the mean streets of Indy with confidence.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

French Connection 2

A few months ago, I found this Peugeot UO8 at a yard sale, and picked it up. It is a 55cm frame, a size I can ride, but one size larger than I prefer. Still, it had been upgraded with nice Mavic G40 grey-anodized alloy rims, and it had a working generator light set on it, as well, so I thought it well worth the asking price.

I considered building it for myself, but Tracy was very interested in it, so I put it aside for her. She had bought the red UO8, which arrived in plastic wrap and no box, earlier this year, and wanted the orange one to go with it. But, she didn't want me to build it; she wanted to do the majority of the work, herself.

Of course, I later found and built up a 53cm orange UO8 for myself, as I noted a couple of posts ago.

This week, Tracy came over, and I walked her through the conversion process. She removed all of the useless parts, replaced the French bottom bracket, installed a crank, respaced and trued the rear wheel. This is how hers ended up.

She did a quite nice job, I think.

Here are a couple of shots of hers and mine, together. Quite a lovely pair

Adieu, mes amis.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I Have Met the Enemy...

Okay, I've always wondered if there were people who actually think that the current state of affairs, transportation-wise, is a good thing. I mean, I see people driving Escalades and Hummers, but I give them the benefit of the doubt and just assume that they are ignorant and accidently supporting the status quo.

Now, however, I know that such people exist. The letter below was cut and pasted from here:

I have added some italics in order to emphasize some of his statements, and my comments are in bold.

To The Editor:

I urge you to print this candidate's pledge and encourage every candidate to sign it. All your readers drive; it is in their interest to know about the war on the automobile, and what can be done as a counter attack. This pledge is one small step toward retaining the freedom of mobility we all take for granted, and that has given us choices and prosperity unknown in human history.
Apparently no car-free people or minors under the driving age read the "Valley Independent News". And, I like how he equates trying to cut down on automobile use and its associated ills with "war", and condones "counter attack". It is just this kind of aggressive, violent mindset which makes me fear for my life when riding along the public roads on a bike.

Thank you.

If elected I pledge to:

1. Promote individual mobility and the free flow of traffic by: spending highway tax revenue on new road construction and road maintenance only, not on expensive, unused transit, bike paths, or any other project; ending tolls of any kind; begin the private contracting of Department of Transportation services.
Yeah, there's no one using all of those empty bike trails or commuter trains. And, by the way, fewer (or no) toll roads means higher taxes to maintain existing roads, not to mention funding his precious "new road construction".

2. Prevent cities from creating "disincentives" to driving' by putting barriers in roads, narrowing lanes, limiting parking, or other steps to slow or reduce roadway capacities.
Yes, by all means, let's continue cramming more and more private automobiles into the same, limited, space in our cities. Only good can come from that!

3. Stop the use of traffic enforcement for profit: no red light ticket cameras; no photo radar; no under posted speed limits; no fine doubling; no "Safety Corridors." These schemes make revenue only, they do not contribute to highway safety and are simply a tax on motorists.
I actually agree with this, but I doubt that he would like my solution: Use enforcement for enforcement. Drop the current speeding violations, and just charge speeders $1.00/mile over the posted speed, add one point to their license for every dollar fined, and take the license away at 20 points (lifetime accumulation). Then, saturate the streets with patrol cars and start pulling people over. Might make the average driver pay a little more attention to keeping his car within the posted limit; huh?

4. Put an end to CAFE; this costly regulation has killed over 30,000 people since its inception.
I would like to hear how the Corporate Average Fuel Economy legislation, which was pretty much gutted by the Reagan Administration 20 years ago, has killed anyone, much less 30,000 people in 30 years. BTW, automobile accidents kill about 43,000 people PER YEAR, here in the U.S.

5. Keep Big-Brother out of my car; no seat belt laws, no cell phone bans, no GPS monitoring; give ownership of EDR information solely to the owner of the car.
I'm no fan of Big Brother, myself, but I think certain laws such as those governing use of child seats have their place.

6. Give highway safety decisions back to professional engineers; the current practice of letting special interests, politicians, and faceless bureaucrats set highway safety policy continues to erode one of our basic freedoms: the freedom of mobility.
I must have missed this one in Civics Class. Which Amendment to the Constitution is that?
As far as I know, driving is a privilege granted by the State. This is why you must earn and pay for a "Driver's License" in all fifty states, and why the police are allowed to tell you how to drive. And, yes, bicycle riders are subject to the driving laws (even though we don't purchase a license in most places, but that's another rant for another time), and can be banned from the public roads when deemed unsafe.

Tom McCarey Berwyn, Pa.
So, thank you Tom, for letting me see that there are actually people out there willfully attempting to keep America behind the rest of the world in responsible transportation and intelligent use of finite natural resources. I feel a little less like I'm just paranoid...but no safer on the road.

I could have written this letter for Tom, and used a lot fewer words:

To The World,

I am selfish and want to continue my selfish ways, regardless of how it affects my neighbors, my environment or the future of my children and future generations.

Selfishly clinging to the past,

Tom McCarey Berwyn, Pa.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

I Don't Want To Be A "Cyclist"

I was thinking, the other day, as I sipped a cup of coffee and watched a lady park in front of Kaladi Brothers, that we don't think of people who drive cars as "automobilists" or even "drivers". We make no mention of someone's mode of transportation unless it is other than by automobile.

This was not always the case, of course. A hundred years ago, in a big city, people would turn to watch an automobile as it chugged down the road, hoping to get a glimpse of the wealthy and/or famous person inside. And, in a small town, all commerce might cease, temporarily, when an automobile made an appearance. Shopkeepers would leave their businesses and join the townspeople on the sidewalk to see such an unusual sight.

Now, I'm not saying that those days will ever come again, in our lifetime. If they do, let's hope it is a gradual transition, and not precipitated by some combination of natural or man-made disasters which plunges us out of the world as we know it and back into the pre-auto age. Our economy, indeed the world-wide economy, would collapse in such a case. We are entirely too dependent on cheap personal (oil-fired) transportation and cheap commercial (oil-fired) transportation to be able to change overnight without grave consequences.

I do hope, however, that bicycle use continues to increase as the availability of cheap oil decreases. I do hope that, within my lifetime, bicycles will cease to be a novelty form of transport here in the good ole U. S. of A.

As it is now, people in my office are completely baffled when I show up on my bike. In the summer, they can't believe I would choose to ride in the heat. In the winter, they are stunned that I would leave the house in the cold.

I point out to them that I have often mountain biked in Moab when the temperature on the Slickrock Trail was well over 100 degrees F, and that I have ridden many times in below-zero temps. Eighty-five or ninety degrees just doesn't phase me, and it's easy to stay warm while pedalling in 20 to 30 degree temps.

What shocks them is that I ride such a great distance (8-1/2 miles, each way!) on a bike. My goodness!

Even with 13 stoplights (and I have no idea how many stop signs) between here and there, I average 35 minutes, each way, on the bike. Again, I point out, that 100 mile road rides and 75 mile mountain bike rides are easily done by even an old man such as myself. Seventeen miles in a day is not a big deal.

But, what it comes down to, is that the people I work with just can't comprehend going anywhere under their own power. Of course, our business is building and maintaining highways (Colorado Dept. of Transportation), so I guess they are predisposed to think of transportation in terms of "Motor" vehicles.

And, that brings me (finally) back to the subject of this post: I hope that bicycling will eventually become mainstream enough that people no longer have a special name for those who ride. Because, if they don't think of us as "different", then, perhaps, we will finally be seen as "equal" while on the road.