Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halfway There

Today marks six months of bike commuting. In honor of that, I had a commute the exact opposite of yesterday's.

I rode most of the way to work in a rain/snow mix. This afternoon, it was 30 degrees cooler when I left work, than it was yesterday. I had a headwind in both directions, and was almost hit by a car whose driver decided to whip around the traffic waiting for a red light as I crossed Leetsdale.

Still, I had a good time riding. The rain/snow earned me a few of those "I can't believe you rode in, today" comments at work. I refrained from answering with, "I can't believe you didn't."

And, at the intersection where the kid backed over me last week, a couple of Denver cops let me out into traffic to cross the bridge. Once across, I cut through the little park I use as a shortcut, and took my route through the neighborhood. Once I reached Florida Avenue, I had to wait until those same two cops drove by before I could cross. The cops looked at me like they just couldn't believe I had gotten there before them.

The only bad thing was that the singing, swinging girl wasn't in the park, today. Usually, as I ride by, there is a 14 or 15-year-old girl on the swings. She swings so high that the chains on the swing go slack at the top of both the front and back swings. All the while, she is listening to her iPod on headphones, and singing at the top of her lungs to Beyonce (or music of that ilk).

I look forward to seeing her, every day, and I miss her when she isn't there.

Anyway, I start my seventh month of commuting, tomorrow, with over 1800 miles under my belt. What seemed like a big challenge, when I started, has morphed into a comfortable routine. Having invested a little bit in cold-weather/rain gear, in addition to the cold-weather gear I already had, I am able to stay fairly comfortable on the cold days. Hopefully, we won't have as much snow as we did last year.

Fingers crossed.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nice Day For a Ride

I usually don't do the "oh, how wonderful" posts, because most people find them pretty boring (even more so than usual).

But, today was an awesome day to ride my commute. I left the house, this morning, in upper-50's F temperatures, and rode to work with a tailwind the whole way. This afternoon, 77 degrees F, and a tailwind on the way home.

I knocked 3 minutes off of my personal best times in both directions. And, no cars even came close to running me over.

Good day for a bike ride. Yep.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

VeloSwap Buys

Here's all the stuff I got at VeloSwap, on Saturday.

Twelve saddles, seven cranksets, some handlebars, a carbon cross fork, brake levers, etc. Didn't find any headsets, though.

I also got these Mavic Crosslands Disc-ready Wheels.
I tried to post this on Sunday, but I've been unable to upload pictures to Blogger until now.
As a postscipt to Friday's post, I put the snake outside, near the spot I think the other snakes use to go in and out of the crawlspace. He wasn't there, Saturday morning, so I hope he is well.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Where's Samuel L. Jackson When You Need Him?

There is an overgrown vacant lot behind my house, home to many, many mice.. Every Fall, as the weather gets colder, I become host to a few of those mice who come in from the cold.

Tonight, as I sat on my couch watching TV, I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye.

"Oh, great," I thought, "a mouse."

No mouse, though. Instead, I saw this little fellow crawling across my livingroom rug.

It's an eight to nine-inch garden snake. I've seen a couple of these guys around my front door, over the past few months, and I know there is a gap in the foundation where yellowjackets got in and built a nest a couple of years ago. I figured the snakes were living under the house, and was kinda hoping they might dissuade the mice from moving in, so I didn't bother them.

Now, though, I don't know what to do with this one. It's sorta cold out, and it's supposed to snow, tonight. So, I'm afraid to just put him outside. However, I don't think the pint Ball Mason jar is an appropriate home for him either.

And, the overarching question in all of this: Am I going to have snakes literally coming out of the woodwork all winter?


Sunday, October 21, 2007

First Snow of the Season

Here's a picture I took, yesterday, in 80 degree F temps:

It's a Cannondale M700 on which I installed the ENO-hubbed wheelset from the pink bike, along with a few other parts, to turn it into a flip-flop fixed-free singlespeed commuter for a local customer. Turned out really nice. I used the ENO on my (now my nephew's) Cannondale with good results. I just couldn't get the thing to stay in place in the Fisher dropouts.

Here's a picture, from this morning, as I got home from Kaladi Brothers Coffee:

Thirty-four degrees F, wet, heavy snow and a cold wind. What a difference a day makes.

I had, of course, another flat while I was out. The rear tire went down while I was at the coffee shop. So, I just took my CO2 cartridge and reinflated it, thinking I could get home before it went back down, since I had gotten there without noticing it being low. I figured it must have had a small, slow, leak.

Nope. Air in...air out. I had apparently run over an idustrial staple or a small nail in the alley as I rode up to Kaladi's, because I later found a largish square-edged hole in the tube.

Naturally, I only had the one cartridge with me, and the pump I usually carry on this bike is on the Miami Vice bike. So, it looked like I was either going to walk home, or hitch a ride. Or, ride home on a flat, which is what I did.

I figured the snow on the ground and the big-ole tire would protect the rim, and I wasn't concerned with the tire, itself, since I don't like these tires anyway. So, I rode slowly home, making that flat-tire sound as I went, and put the bike in the stand when I got home.

To my surprise, the tire was not only undamaged, but it was still securely seated in the rim. I would bet these tires work nicely as tubeless tires, if you do the "Stan's conversion" on them.

I squeezed some latex sealant into a new tube, and reinstalled the tire and called it good.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

By The Way

I just found out that I could change the settings on the comments so that you don't have to sign up with Blogger to leave a comment.

Enjoy your new-found posting freedom, my cheeky little monkeys!

100th Commuting Day, and I Finally Get Hit By a Car

One hundred commuting days, 1717 miles (according to my commuter log on the CDOT intraweb) and one impact from a car.

I was about 3/4 of the way home, on my least favorite stretch of the afternoon ride. This part of the ride requires that I get on South Holly Street in order to cross Cherry Creek. Due to the construction of a new bridge over the creek, traffic backs up at times, and it's always a little sketchy through that section even if the traffic is flowing smoothly.

I approached Holly on Tennessee, and was passed by a Scion xB. It's the little station wagon/SUV-type Scion. It had stuff like "Senior 08" written all over it in white shoe polish, so it was obviously a high school kid driving. I didn't pay much attention to the fact that he brushed by pretty closely because:

a. lots of people in Denver brush by bikes a little too closely and I've grown blase' about it, and
b. it was a high school kid and I figured he probably just wasn't paying attention.

I pulled up behind the Scion at the Stop sign, and positioned myself a little to the right of the car. I rarely get right behind a car in that situation because you never know when someone is going to pull up from behind and not see you until they've mashed you into the lead car's rear bumper.

Traffic on Holly was a mess, if you wanted to turn left (which the Scion and I were both doing). Cars were backed up from the new bridge, to our left, to as far as you could see down the street to the right. I was debating whether or not to pass the Scion and duck between the cars, to get on the far edge of Holly, when apparently the kid in the Scion got tired of waiting. I saw his reverse lights come one, and heard the engine rev. I put my hand out, reflexively, and the car hit my arm, knocking me off the bike.

I didn't fall to the ground, but I had to kind of stagger back a couple of steps to keep the bike from levering me to the pavement. The kid stopped, and just looked at me. I gave him the arms-out, two-palms-up international "What the hell?" sign, and he continued to just look at me with this weird half-grin on his face.

Maybe my jacket blinded him.

So, I did what any good Buddhist would and flipped him the bird. At that, he apparently floor-boarded the car (from the sound of it) and whipped most of a u-turn before smashing the plastic bumper of his car onto the concrete curb, which happens to be about a foot high there.

I flipped him off again, and he took off in the opposite direction down Tennessee. So, I just pulled out into Holly, as I had been thinking of doing.

"You should get his plate number!" a lady in a Chevy Blazer said to me as I rode between her car and the one in front of her.

"489 PUI," I called back to her.

"Good," she said.

I rode up the right hand side of Holly, bypassing all of the snarled traffic and got across the bridge before the light changed. I was home about ten minutes later. Ten minutes after that, I was on the phone with the police.

Officer Jimenez showed up at my door within a half hour and took my statement. Since there was no injury or property damage (except to the Scion's bumper when he hit the curb), it legally wasn't an accident, and I had thought that was the case. But, as I told the police officer, I'd just like someone in authority to speak to this kid about paying attention to what he's doing.

We were in a school zone when all this occurred. If an 8 year-old kid had been crossing the street when the Scion backed up, it could have been a lot more tragic, and much less entertaining than it was.

So, Officer Jimenez said that he would get in contact with the high school and see if they could locate a student with that car then "have a word with him" about his driving. The plate number I gave him didn't come up (I actually told the police 482 PUI, but I think the "2" is wrong and should be a "9"). So, hopefully some good will come from it. Other than a convenient blog post subject, that is.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Lazy Can Be Good

And Wednesday was one of those times when it is.

I needed groceries, but really just didn't feel like putting out the effort to get the pink bike out, hook up the trailer, shop for an hour and then haul home and put up 10 or 11 bags of groceries. So, I busted out the GT, slung a messenger bag over my shoulder, and went on a run for staples.

Thirty minutes later, I came home with some broccoli, baby carrots, Trident gum, Fruit Mentos and Italian bread (staples in my house). When I went to put the broccoli in the refrigerator, I found that the interior of the fridge was closer to room temperature than you would really like it to be.

When I checked the freezer, it was obvious that the fridge was no longer cooling. My ice cube trays were full of water, my frozen grapes were mushy and, worst of all, a brand new package of Fudgecicles had melted into bags of brown sugar water. Sixteen dead soldiers, all in their own little body bags.

Oh, well, at least I didn't have a trailer full of groceries to store away. I went to the corner store and got 40 pounds of ice, and put the meat and other easily spoiled foods on a cooler with ice, and put two 10-pound bags of ice in the fridge to keep things cool.

Yesterday, I went to Home Depot (close to the house) and bought a new refrigerator. The old one is sitting on my driveway, awaiting pickup on Monday, and the new one is humming away in the kitchen.

There went the guitar I've been thinking about getting. The new fridge cost about $35.00 less than the guitar would, so that takes the money I was comfortable with spending. Guess I'll just play the guitars I have.

In Commuting News:

Had another flat on the front of the Miami Vice bike, when I got on it to come home from work. I aired it up, and spun it around, distributing the sealant around the inside of the tube.

Sure enough, a little green dot appeared on the outside of the tire where the air was pushing the sealant through the new thorn hole. It sealed up, and I rode home with no problems.

That's at least 3 holes that particular Slime Tube has sealed for me, now. I think I've gotten my $7.99 worth out of it.

At least I had a slight tailwind on the way home. That's a great way to finish out a week.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

New Hoops

Here's El Diablo with the new black wheels. I peeled off the garish Weinmann decals when I trued and tensioned the rims. The unadorned flat-black rims and high-flange hubs lend a Soviet-era Russian tractor vibe to the bike.
I like it.
I threw the velcro-attached pump mount on, yesterday, because I had a flat on the front wheel when I got on it to come home from the coffee shop. Even with the tire liners and sealant tubes, two big thorns had managed to let all of the air out of the tire for me. I was offered a ride home, so I took it.
I had some errands to run, so I pulled the thorns out, and aired the tire up, to see if it would seal. It did, so I just got the pump in case the tire decided to do the slow-leak thing on me while I was out. I didn't want to have to use my CO2 cartridges to firm up a soft tire.
It has held the air, just fine, since yesterday morning, though. So, while it was aggravating to have (yet another) flat, it was nice to not have to replace the tube.
The wind has been howling, for the past couple of days, due to an approaching cold front. Tuesday's commute may be a little chilly and wet. That's why one of the errands I ran was to the Army Surplus store to get some ripstop nylon cargo pants (BDUs). These are a bargain at $20.00 per pair, and should get me through the winter better than the cotton manpris I've been wearing all summer.
That's all for now. Time to build a bike I've been putting on the back burner for way too long (Sorry, Mark).