Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Nice Day, Some Sad News

First, this was the kind of day which makes one wonder why anyone would drive a car back and forth to work. This morning was pretty pleasant, 25 degrees and no wind. The sky was getting color in the east, as I left and, though sunrise was an hour away it was obviously immenent.

I flew along on the bike, feeling as though I had a tailwind. Yet, when I passed flags on poles, they were hanging slack. Sometimes, the Earth just spins the right way for you.

This afternoon, it was 60 degrees when I left work, and the sun was shining. People were out, walking dogs, playing in the yard, riding bikes and just generally enjoying the day. Everyone I met returned my wave or "Hello", with the exception of one guy in a suit, riding no hands on a mountain bike with his seat about 4 inches too low. He actually turned his nose up as he went by! I always thought that was just a figure of speech...

Even now, it is 56 degrees on the front porch. The rest of the work week is supposed to be just as pleasant. So I am stoked about the commute, this week! Sixty-eight degrees is forecast for Saturday, with snow and a return to the 30s on Sunday.

Springtime in the Rockies.

In the sad news department, one of my intellectual heroes passed, today. William F. Buckley, Jr. was probably as far removed from my outlook, politically, as is possible. The "father of modern Conservatism" leaned very, very far to the right. In fact, he virtually defined "The Right".

I try to keep politics out of theis blog, but people who know me are aware that I lean a little to the left of center.

Still, whether you agreed with Buckley, or not, you had to admire the man's intellect, his commitment to his causes, and his uncanny ability to always have the (most-times witty, quite often large) last word. Both his writing and his appearances on TV sent me to the dictionary at frequent intervals.

When a detractor wrote a letter saying that he would rather "trust a snake" than to trust Buckley or anyone he supported, Bill wrote back, "What if I supported the snake?"

Intelligence knows no political bounds, and I admired Mr. Buckley, greatly.



Monday, February 25, 2008

Back To Work

Well, I survived the first commute back from sick leave. I think it helped that the temperature was in the mid-thirties, this morning, and the wind wasn't howling. I'm not sure I would have gone in if the temps had been near zero, or the 25 mph winds were going.

As it was, I got to work with very littly hacking and wheezing (no more than normal, actually), and arrived in 33 minutes. Sometimes, as I've observed before, I am actually faster if I take it easy than I am if I peg it all the way to work.

I got a variety of answers to my hypothetical question about the number of bikes I might need (I think n+1 seems to be the consensus, with n representing the number of bikes owned at any given time). The thing is, I'm not even sure how many I have, right now.

Let's see: Formula 1, Iver Johnson, 69er, TREK STP, Miami Vice, OrangePeugeot, Big Red Western Flyer, High Wheeler, LeMond, Scorcher, Pink Bike, RedLine Cross(under construction)...that's 12 that I can think of.

I guess the Clubman will become Lucky 13.

I have decided to build the Clubman on an English frame, since I am going for the English feel. So, I guess I need to start looking for a Raleigh, or Triumph (both of which I have had and sold, within the last year, of course), or a Rudge, etc.

In the meantime, I pulled the Racing Triple crankset apart and cleaned it up, yesterday.

As you can see, it was quite dirty. For some reason, the digital camera decided to not save the "after" picture. But I'll get a shot of it on the RedLine, when next I work on it.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Under The Weather

Having spent the past 4 days hacking up a lung and running a low-grade fever, I am somewhat annoyed that getting the crud coincided with some really nice bicycling weather. The temps have been in the upper 50s and lower 60s, with nice sunny skies, and the only ride I even attempted was to the coffee shop and back, yesterday.

I did get some things accomplished, though. I sent the Hiawatha 3-speed off to get powder coated red. It will be going to the wife of a co-worker, once it's done. I also got my nephew Sean's Rat Patrol hat put together and in the mail. He should have it by the end of the week.

I also got a little bit of bike work done.

I converted the LeMond from cyclocross mode to fixed gear.

I painted the fork silver to match the frame a bit better. It was white with green decals.

I used the drivetrain and wheels from the Green Hornet (I sold the frame, last year), including the wheels built on Campagnolo Record high-flange track hubs. I rode it up and down the street a couple of times, just to make sure everything was tightened down. I'll take a actual ride on it, when I feel better, to check it out for real.

I decided to use the cross parts from the LeMond on the RedLine frame I got from BC. I don't really have a thousand bucks lying around to buy new parts with, and I want to get the bike on the road. With it together, I have a geared bike I can swap tires on and use either for road riding or cyclocross-style riding.

Having the LeMond built as a fixie gives me a nice lighter-weight fixed to use for longer rides/training speed rides, in addition to the orange Peugeot for around-town use.

And, of course, I am still looking for a frame to build up as my 3-speed Clubman-style "Gentleman's Tourer".

Man, how many bikes do I need, anyway?


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Best Laid Plans - Clubman Edition

I got out the frame I was planning on using to build my 3-speed Clubman, the other day, and started getting it ready to go the powder coater. One of the seat stays had a small bend in it, so I straightened it out, first.

Then, I went to remove the seatpost and...well you can probably see what's coming. The seatpost is solidly frozen in the frame. I even clamped the head of the post in my vise, and used the frame for leverage to try and break it loose. No go.

Now, this is not a particularly fine frame. I don't even know who made it. It's simply an older, European lugged frame in my size. Probably a Motobecane, but I haven't even pulled the bottom bracket to see if it's English or French, I am just basing the guess on the lugs and dropouts. It simply isn't worth the effort to cut the seatpost out of it.

So, now, I don't have a frame suitable for that project. I have some Japanese frames, but I want to base this bike on Bristish or Euro steel.

I guess it goes on the back burner, allowing the new cyclocross bike to take center stage (in conjunction with building a nice fixed gear out of my old crosser, the LeMond).

Plus, I need to finish assembling the Trek STP so I can start "training" for Moab.

In the meantime, I'll just keep an eye out for a frame to build the Clubman on.


It's funny how a planned build can run into so many snags and delays, yet a build like the Scorcher will just fall together effortlessly. Maybe that's why I love the junkyard dogs, so much.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Teaser Weather

Sixty degrees F when I got home, today! Spring is here!
Not really. The high, tomorrow, is supposed to be around 40 degrees, with chances of snow tomorrow night/Thursday morning.
Sigh. The weather is teasing me. But, that's okay.

I had a terrific ride back and forth on the red Scorcher. The handlebars put me in just the right position, and the 40/18 gear feels good with the bags loaded.

I have no idea of what speed I'm making, with that gear. I don't have a speedometer on the bike, so I just ride as fast as I comfortably can. I made it home in 45 minutes, according to my wrist watch, so I must be travelling at about the same speed I always do.

I think leaving the speed measuring device off of a bike adds to the enjoyment of riding. I don't have a cyclometer on the orange Peugeot, and it is always a fun bike to ride. If I ride by myself, I don't sweat it. As I said, I just ride in my comfort zone. If I ride with other people, I just try and match their speed.

If I feel the need to "train", to try and maintain a certain speed for some reason, I just ride a different bike.

The only problem I had on the ride was that I occasionally felt the rear tire squirming when I would turn at speed. A couple of times, it felt as though it was about to roll off the rim.

I realized, on the way home, that I had no idea how much air pressure was in the tires. I had just randomly aired them up, when I was assembling the bike, and never topped them off. I checked, when I got home, and I had 50 psi in the rear, and 65 psi in the front.

While that would be fine in the 26x1.95 tires on the Miami Vice bike, it seemed a tad low in the 700x37 Continental Twister cyclocross tires.

So, I aired them both up to 100 psi, only to have a problem appear.

The rear tire now rubs on the chainstay brace. I had a similar problem when running these on the LeMond, and I think I will solve it in a similar fashion (with either a hammer or a Dremel tool...although I'm in a mood which makes me lean toward the hammer).

Ah, well, I guess I'll go beat on...I mean modify the frame to clear the tire.


Plenty of tire clearance, now!

Hammers! Is there any problem they can't solve?


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Scorcher Evolution

The most noticeable change to the Scorcher is the addition of a rear rack. I have found that I need a rear rack on all of my bikes except for those I specifically think of as "recreational". The mountain bike, the cross bike, the orange Peugeot...those are bikes I don't use for hauling things around or commuting. I just ride them for fun, so no rack is needed.

I figured out the cockpit issue. I wasn't sure if I needed a different handlebar, or a different stem. Turned out to be a handlebar problem. A wider, upside-down 3-speed bar fixed me right up. You can also see the stealthily mounted "ding bell", in this shot.

I hated having a shimmed seatpost in the bike. So, I got a 26.8mm post, and reamed the seat tube to fit. I think it originally took a 26.6 post, because it didn't take much to get it fitted.

I swapped pedals with the pink bike (I'm hoping the snow is gone for a few days). I'll eventually get another pair of these, so I don't have to swap any around.
I'm going to use this bike to run errands, go to the coffee shop, etc. tomorrow. Assuming everything shakes out, I may just hang the bags on it and ride it to work on Tuesday. It will seem fast compared to the pink bike with the studded tires, I'm sure.
I suspect it will end up with rear brakes, as well, if it seems like I'll be using it for commuting. I like the added security of two brakes when I'm hauling the bags around and dodging rush hour traffic. But, I'll see how it handles the bags before I worry about it.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A New Scorcher is Born

One day, last week, one of my buddies at work approached me and told he had picked up an old steel Specialized Rockhopper for parts, and then asked if I wanted the frame. Of course, I said yes.

"Well, I've got it with me," he said.

I just pointed to my bicycle, leaning against the wall in my cubicle.

"Oh. I'll drop it by your house, the next time I drive past there," he said.

I thanked him for both the frame, and the offer to drop it off.

A few days later, after I had forgotten about that conversation, I came home and found the frame leaning against the corner of the shop building. It was actually complete with fork, headset and bottom bracket. I threw it in the shop, and went tinto the house.

The next day (Wednesday) was warm and nice. When I got home, I let the dog out, and then went into the shop with the intention of working on a 3-speed I'm building for the wife of another co-worker. The red Rockhopper frame was sitting there, so I decided to throw some wheels into the dropouts and hang it from hooks to get it out of the way. One thing led to another and, 2 hours later, I had wheels, tires, crank, stem and handlebar hanging on the frame.

I found an old Specialized seatpost quick-release, probably the same age as the frame, and shimmed a 26.0 mm seatpost into the frame, threw a seat on it and, finally, hung it up out of the way.

Today, I came home from work, early, and decided to actually build the Rockhopper. I overhauled the bottom bracket (one of the old Specialized cromoly bottom brackets) and the headset. Then, I drilled the fork crown for a brake and mounted up an old Weinmann center-pull to reach the 700c wheel.

I removed the crank I had originally put on it, and replaced it with the mis-matched Stronglight crankset which had done duty on the original Cafe Bike, sized a chain and test rode it. I decided I didn't like the stem, so I swapped for another one.

Eventually, I ended up with the build you see here.

The pedals are some crappy plastic MTB pedals which came with C's new bike, but went into the box o' parts rather than on the bike, so they will definitely go away. Soon. Probably tomorrow. The tires came off of the LeMond, and they have about as much clearance in this frame as they did on the LeMond. I can't fit fenders onto the bike, with these tires, so they may go, as well.

The wheels are the set I had on the GT 29er, last summer, so that I could ride fixed. I had respaced the rear hub to 135mm to fit a mountain bike frame, therefore they mounted right up to the Rockhopper.

So, it's pretty much a junkyard dog, but it is a close copy of one my favorite builds I've ever done. I built a black Rockhopper up, a couple of years ago, pretty much just like this. It is the bike in the "FIXIE" sticker ad on The Fixed Gear Gallery. I ended up selling it to a local customer, who has since become one of my bike buddies, and I've kinda missed it ever since I sold it.

I think I probably put 200 to 300 miles on it, while it was for sale. It was a nice riding bike, and I suspect this one will be, as well. I'll take it to the coffee shop, tomorrow morning, and ride around a bit to sort things out. (I'm still not sure about the stem or the bars.)

I'll probably list this one as FOR SALE on the website, and use it until someone bites, just like I did with the other one. I might paint it, as the red paint is pretty beat up. Or, I might powdercoat it (if I decide to keep it). Or, I might just leave it just as it is and put a bargain price on it.

Stay tuned.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What A Freakin' Awesome Ride Home!

It was sixty eight degrees when I left the lab, on the way home. The sky was so blue, and the sun was so bright that the airplane contrails looked less like pollution and more like silver ribbons stretched across the sky.

I had forgotten just how much fun a bike ride in decent weather could be!

Of course, it's supposed to start snowing, overnight, and dump 6 or 8 inches on us. But...who cares? I had a freakin' awesome ride home!


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Unexpected Warmth, and A Couple of Questions Occur To Me On The Way Home

I didn't expect the temperature to be pushing 50 degrees, when I left work, today. But, it was sitting on 48 degrees, when I took off, and it was still 45 dgrees when I got home. I carried a good deal of my morning clothes home in the panniers, including the long underwear and my heavy gloves.

My normal bike gloves had gotten out of the bag, somehow, so I rode home in leather work gloves and my polypro liners. I kept the shoe covers on, since there are a few deep puddles and wet stretches on the way home, due to snowmelt, but I rolled the pants legs up rather than tucking them in, as I usually do.

The Questions:

As I rode along on Kearney, I approached an intersection where I have no Stop sign, but the cross street does. As I approached, the fellow waiting at the sign pulled out to cross the street.

I didn't have to hit the brakes, but I did have to stop pedalling so that I would slow down and avoid hitting him.

Even if I had to hit the brakes, I wouldn't have said much about it, because this fellow wasn't driving a car. He was piloting an electric wheelchair, so I would yield to him under just about any circumstance I can think of.

This got me to thinking, though. And, thence, the questions: Is an electric wheelchair a vehicle or a pedestrian? Can You get a DWI for driving one home from the bar, or would it be a "Public Intoxication" charge?

Ah, the things that go through your mind on a pleasant bike ride home, from work.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Blow Me Down!

Warm, this morning: 38 degrees F when I left the house. All of the TV weather people were saying that a cold front was moving in, and we would have rain and snow for the PM commute.

No precip, by the time I left, but the wind was whistling right along. Weather dot com was saying 27 mph, with gusts to 38. The beauty part, though, was that it was blowing from the NNE, and I live SSW of the lab.

Forty two minutes, door to door! And I was on the studded tires.

Had I known that the snow would hold off, I would have ridden the Miami Vice bike. I've missed it, these past few, snowy, weeks.


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Bike Art

Here's a three-piece wall hanging I've been working on for my cousin's little boy. Each piece is 5" x 10", and they will be matted and framed to hang on the wall.

I was going for the "hand-drawn" look, so I avoided using a compass or protractor and kept the use of the straight-edge to a minimum. I am hoping it evokes the work of Garth Williams, whose illustrations of E.B. White's Stuart Little remain my benchmark for perfection.
Anyway, I was pretty pleased with them, when all was said and done.

Friday, February 08, 2008


Accessories for a bike I have yet to start building. These are from Velo Orange, one of my favorite bike accessory dealers. They are kind of like Rivendell, but a little more realistic in pricing. VO has their own line of retro accessories manufactured by various companies, and their stuff is of high quality, yet affordable.

For instance, the leather bar wrap, pictured here, is only $40.00. It is nicely bevelled on the sides, soft and supple. Compare it to the Brooks at $69.95 per set, from Harris Cyclery. I like Brooks saddles, but not enough to pay an extra thirty bucks to put their name on my handlebars.

The handlebar bag and the tape, from VO, cost me less than the Brooks tape, alone, would if you factor in shipping.
Stay tuned for further developments on this particular project. I'm thinking it will turn out to be very cool


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Aaaah, That's More Like It!

Well, the cold overnight temperatures did consolidate the snow on the roads, leaving a beautifully rideable surface for me. I was feeling the love, on the way to the laboratory, this morning.

This afternoon, a lot of the road was clear, and the snowy part was still rideable. A fairly strong west wind was blowing, but I was mostly sheltered from it by the houses in the neighborhoods, trees, etc, and it didn't really affect me.

The snow showers predicted for the afternoon commute have yet to materialize, and the sky overhead was nice and blue as I rode home. Some days, I feel really sorry for the people who feel they have to drive. I get so much pleasure from my commute, and I remember what a pain in the rear it was to drive back and forth on Colorado Blvd (even on the motorbike).

I have to admit that I'm looking forward to warmer weather (mainly because it makes dressing for bike riding a lot simpler), but the cold is not nearly as much of a bother as people assume.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Today was the most physically difficult commute I have had since I started this year-long challenge, including the 40 mph headwind days. The snow, which I referred to as mashed potatoes, yesterday, firmed up during the night and took on the characteristics of damp sand.

Riding in it was a combination of fishtailing, wheelspinning and and cussing, just like the long sand stretches of Poison Spider Mesa, in Moab. About halfway to work, I was thinking to myself that, at least, I was comfortable, temperature-wise. It was in the low 20s F, and I was dressed just right. Then, I wondered, since I was dressed in the same clothes I always dress in for those temps, why wasn't I overheating from the extra effort I was putting out? I reached up, touched my head, and realized...I had left my helmet at home!

So, there I was, riding in a snowstorm with little visibility, in the dark, barely able to remain upright, and I was missing the old brain-bucket.

I just kept riding. The last time I did this was in 1994, and I had the same realization that I was sans chapeau as I was bombing down Hilltop Road , on the way to work at the bike shop. On that day, I slowed down and rode much more carefully than I would have with a helmet.

Today, I couldn't slow down without falling over, and I was already on high-alert at intersections, carefully scanning for cars approaching. Regardless of who had the stop sign, I was making sure that the drivers weren't planning on just rolling through without stopping. At 6:00 AM on neighborhood streets, in slick conditions, that's what I would do.

So, I continued on, enjoying the snow which was falling, and fighting that which was on the road. Fifty-five minutes after I left the house, I was at work.

On the trip home, under blue skies and sunshine, the roads were harder to ride than they had been this morning. With the exception of a couple of short dry stretches (maybe two blocks, total), I was fighting my way through the kitty litter like a kitten with a gut full of prunes.

I finally got home after a solid hour of hard effort, and shoveled the walk and drive. As I did, I could only hope that the cold overnight temps would consolidate the snow on the road, somewhat, and make it a little easier to roll through in the morning.

We'll see.


Monday, February 04, 2008

Mashed Potatoes

That is as close as I can come to describing the consistency of the snow we are getting, right now. It was a little weird to ride on, and apparently slick as snot for the cars on the road.

I like riding during a snowfall, I just get tired of the snow hanging around, later. The flakes coming down make the ride seem quiet, and unhurried. Riding in the snow is peaceful. (Of course, it's also dangerous, since the people sliding around in the cars can't see you, very well, even if they maintain control of their vehicle. But, what's new?)

Anyway, I was having a good time on the way home, and it must have been pretty evident. I pulled up to the stop sign at 14th and Kearney, and had to wait for some traffic. A guy crossed the street, on foot, as I was sitting there.

"Man!" he exclaimed, "If they can't see that grin coming, there's something wrong with 'em!"

Then he repeated it, to himself, as he walked on.

I laughed, and crossed 14th into the King Soopers parking lot.

Grinning like an idiot: My normal state on a bike.


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Blast From The Past

Came across this old picture, tonight. Taken at the Porcupine Rim trailhead, in 1995 or 1996, it shows a younger, skinnier Jon Grinder (ponytail and all).

Man, was I ever actually that thin?