Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Stop!...In the Name of...uh...Bike

I treat Stop signs as if they were Yield signs, when I am on the bike. Not legal (unless you are in Idaho), but safe and sane. Traffic-calming devices designed to impede speeding on the part of motor vehicles tend to not be placed in spots logical for cycling.

If the intersection has poor visibility, or if there is other traffic at the intersection, I stop like a good citizen. And, of course, I always make sure to stop if a cop is around.

Two days ago, I approached a 4-way stop as a cop approached on the opposite side. To my right was an RTD bus, and to my left one of those dumbass riders which make even me hate bikes.

This guy was riding on the wrong side of the road, with headphones on, and proceeded to run the Stop sign, cutting off the cop and forcing the bus to swerve into the center of the road to avoid him.

The cop just ignored him, and drove on. I continued on my way to work, wondering why I even bother stopping at any time!


So, at the end of my third month of bicycle-commuting, I have ridden to work for 54 days and I have accumulated 918 commute miles. Since April 25, I have bought 26 gallons of gas (one tank in the truck, two in the Triumph), and I have only 57 miles on the truck since June 25.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Danger, Will Robinson

That's what the note in the box said. My sister sent me a couple of cool wind-up robots, which are currently residing in the "Outer Space" section of my display shelves. (And, I really don't know why King Arthur is there, with his giant Excaliber in hand.)
There are many facets to Grinder Bikes World Headquarters.

The big one tilts his head back and forth as he walks.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Clown Bike Modifications

I made some modifications to the Formula One bike, today. I took off the bullhorn bars and installed a Soma Noah's Arc, installed a computer and swapped the pedals for some of the big monsters like I have on the pink bike.



I also finally put some tools, spare tubes and CO2 inflater on it so that I can fix flats, etc. I am thinking seriously about taking this bike to Michigan for the FGG Fixed Gear Symposium, and I want to be prepared if I do take it.

I swapped the 12-tooth cog for a 13-tooth, also. That gives me a more comfortable 65 inch gear, rather than the 70 which it had. This is basically the same gear ratio as Peugeot L'Orange, although the small, fat, tires make it feel a little different.

I thought I should ride it around for a few days with the new bars, etc., before I decide if I want to take it. So, I may have to revert to carrying the messenger bag for a couple of days this week and use the clown bike for the commute. If so, I'll do it Tuesday and Wednesday, as those will be the days when I have the least to carry back and forth.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

ENO No-Go? Oh, no! D'oh!

I have a White Industries ENO (read it backwards for more bike-biz cuteness) rear hub on the pink bike. The ENO's axle is offset in relation to the mounting bolts, producing an eccentric effect which allows one to take up chain slack on a bike equipped with vertical dropouts.

There! Does it make sense now?

To tension the chain, you snug the 6mm mounting bolts just slightly, then use a large open-end wrench (I use a 6" adjustable wrench) to rotate the hub body and adjust the tension. Then, you securely tighten the 6mm bolts and pedal merrily on your way. Life is but a dream.

I am finding that mine tends to slip just alittle as I ride. After a week or so of my commute, it loosens up enough that I have, on three occasions, tossed the chain as I soft-pedalled down a hill.

Three occasions before this morning, that is. The total is now at 5.

The first time it happened, this morning, I just reinstalled the chain and continued on. I figured I'd take the time to dig the tools out and adjust it once I got to work, as I had the first few times this had happened. Big mistake. A half-mile down the road and the chain jumps off the cog, and wedges itself into the space between the cog and the spokes. As I am extricating it, I notice that the spring-clip on the BMX-style master link is broken. Crap!

Luckily, I was only about a mile and a half from home, so I called work and left a message that I would be late, and turned around. I figured, and it turned out to be true, that I could baby the bike back to the house with the sorta-busted chain. I planned on replacing the chain, then trying again.

I got home, opened up the Annex and threw the bike up into the stand (not that I regurgitated it.. I just... well, you know what I mean). As I turned the rear wheel, looking for the master link on the chain, it became apparent that the chain was not the only thing broken.


A broken spoke! And two or three more chewed halway through! Perfect. I have put about 950 miles on the pink bike since I converted it to fixed gear. Couldn't even make a thousand before I broke something...

So, I pulled the orange Peugeot down from the rafters, and transferred the rack/bag setup and the lights over to it. Then, I took off for work. Again.

Pepe Le Peugeot: It kinda stinks to put these heavy bags on such a nice-riding bike!

Even though I don't have to be at work until 7:00 AM, I usually leave at about 5:45 or 5:50. Many of my friends think that's weird, since it only takes 35 or 40 minutes to get there. Today, however, it paid off.

I left my driveway, the second time, at 6:31, and I was in the building at work at 6:57. Twenty-six minutes door to door is about 4 minutes better than my previous best time (also on this bike). I guess all of that spinning on the pink bike is paying off.

I no longer feel quite so guilty about having more than one, "do-everything", bike, though. If I had been a single-bike owner, this morning, I would have ended up on the motorcycle or the scooter. As is, my string of unbroken bike commutes, from May 1, is intact.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sleigh Bells Jingling, Jon Is Rambling On...

One thing I've figured out, over the past couple of years, is that how you dress on a bike greatly influences how drivers treat you in traffic. If you wear cycling-specific clothing, the drivers seem to assume that you have too much leisure time, and you're just out playing in traffic trying to annoy them.

Dress in regular street clothes, however, and the motor-driven seem to cut you some slack. I don't know if they assume you have a DWI and feel sorry for you, or what.

Still, I don't like to ride without bike shorts, so I wear them. But, I hide them under cargo shorts or rolled up pants. Lately, I've been wearing some shorts which reach about halfway down my calf, since they keep my creaky old knees out of the morning breeze.

I tend to smile a lot as I ride, too. Sometimes it's because I have the sun in my eyes. Usually, it's just because I enjoy the ride.

I am amused by the different reactions I get from people walking on the neighborhood streets as I ride through. There are 4 or 5 people I see almost every morning, walking their dogs at various points along my ride. Some of them now actually smile and return my, "Good morning!" as I ride by.

A couple of them just look at me like they don't comprehend why in the world I would expect them to answer. My favorite, however, is this one older lady who always looks the other way so that she not only doesn't have to answer, she doesn't even have to acknowledge my existence.

What's really strange to me, though, is how unfriendly most of the cyclists I've encountered have been. I can understand that the full-lycra crowd probably takes exception to my lack of boy-racer trappings, and the meth-addict/DWI crowd has their own concerns which take their attention. But, even fellow commuters seem reluctant to return a wave or a greeting.

I put a bell on my bike, a couple of weeks ago, so that I could announce my presence to the people who run, with their dogs, right down the middle of the street. (For some reason, this is common behavior in the neighborhoods I ride through at 6:00 AM.)

I took the bell off of a bike I rescued from the trash, and had to disassemble it and lube the mechanism to make it work. I apparently lubed it a little too well, because now it quietly rings itself at every little bump or vibration. If you have seen the condition of Denver roads since the series of snows we had last winter, then you can probably imagine how often that is.

I find the gentle ting-a-ling soothing as I ride down the street. It's my alternative to an iPod on the bike.

Still, I don't know why anyone would avoid speaking or waving to a guy jingling his way down the street on a hot pink fixed gear mountain bike, wearing manpris, and grinning like an idiot.

I would at least wave before I looked the other way!


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

What Bicycling Month Is This, Anyway?

May was National Bicycling Month, so I rode to work every day. June was Colorado Bicycle Month, so I rode to work every day. In fact, I have ridden for 37 consecutive work days, plus every non-work day except for two, since May 1.

In that time, I've ridden 629 miles back and forth between the lab and home. I've been chased by one dog, witnessed one head-on collision between two cars (each of which was running the same red light), and saw the cops chasing a bank robber, moments before they actually ran over him with a car to stop him!

The weather has graced me with cool mornings and pleasant evenings, along with 60 mph winds, temperatures in the 100+ range (F, thankfully, no boiling water yet) and soaking thunderstorms.
Along the way, I've started feeling like a cyclist, again, rather than a guy who just owns a bunch of bikes. This makes me happy, and I'm nicer when I'm happy. So, I'm sure my friends and acquaintances are glad I've been riding.

The new shop space has also contributed to making me happy. It's fun, again, to work on bikes. I actually did some maintenance to the pink bike, tonight. I pulled the bottom bracket and put some anti-seize on the threads. I'm hoping that will cure the horrible creaking sound (Welcome to the Inner Sanctum...Heh, heh, heh!) that I've been experiencing on climbs and when accelerating away from a stop.
Now, it's July, and I'm still riding to work every day. It's gotta be Bike Month, somewhere...