Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nice Day

Click for BIG

Still snowing, ever so lightly, here in Denver. The wind is blowing at about 25 mph, steadily, and gusting to 35, or so.

Tomorrow, it is supposed to be clear and warm. I suspect that I am in for an icy commute, tomorrow morning, though.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

I took this picture after I got back from the coffee shop, this morning.

When I left, all of the pavement was covered in snow (and ice, where the car tires had packed it down). So, I replaced the fair-weather wheels (broken spoke and all) with the studded tire-shod winter wheels and took off. Although I used them a couple of weeks ago, today was the first time this season that I have actually seen a need for them, once I was out on the street.

As always, when using the studded tires, I was amazed at how slow I was. I have some new studded 700c tires for the yellow bike. I am curious if they will slow me down as much on that bike, comparatively, as these do on the mountain bike.

Speaking of the yellow dog, I need to fix yet another problem on it. The headset won't stay adjusted, due to the threads on the top of the steer tube stripping out (the locknut won't hold). Maybe I'll fix that, this afternoon.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sometimes, You Just Keep Pedalling

I take a shortcut through a couple of parks, on my way home every day. I go through Garland Park, cross Cherry Creek on Holly, then swing a right into another little park whose name I can't remember (City of Something Park). I get on Holly at the spot where the Cherry Creek Bike Trail crosses. But, rather than crossing, I turn left to go across the new bridge. (See the lay of the land here. Google won't let me embed the map, for some arcane reason.)

Sometimes, I have to hit the pedestrian-crossing button so that the lights will go red in all directions, so that I can get onto Holly without getting flattened. Other times, I can take advantage of a gap in traffic to shoot diagonally through the intersection, from Garland Park, and take a place in the traffic lane. Today, I shot the gap.

I rolled slowly up to the corner, in the park, and saw that I had enough room to get out onto the road, if I stood up and sprinted. So, I did. I banked slightly left as I entered the stree (cutting across the intersection in a diagonal), and sprinted hard. On about the fifth pedal stroke, I heard it.


Now, through the all of the years that I have been riding and wrenching on bikes, I have learned one hard and fast rule: Ping is never a good sound.

Ping is the harbinger of doom. It is the bell's toll, Gabriel's trumpet, the cry of the banshee.

Ping is the sound of broken.

Usually, when I hear a ping, I stop pretty much immediately and see what's going on. To not stop is a risk. Whatever pinged might bring you down like anti-aircraft fire brought down bombers in WWII.

Today, however, I had to keep going. I was shooting a gap (remember?), and I was in the middle of it when the ping hit me. I could only continue pedalling and hope I made it to City of Something Park before a catastrophic failure brought me down.

Or not. Because, sometimes the ping is trivial. Could be nothing to worry about. And, that was my hope, today.

I made it across, and into the park, where I slowed down. As I slowed, I heard a new sound.

Tic, tic, tic.

The time-bomb sound. My bike was becoming a collection of metaphors as I rode.

This was a sound I know. Broken spoke.

The broken spoke is lying across the chainstay.

The wheel stayed fairly true, which always amazes me with 24-spoked wheels. I will say this, the Rolf Dolomite is a tough wheel. These things are 8 years old, and they've been through hell and back. I'm thinking I might just retire them, and use my Mavic Crosslands on this bike.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Smiling, Today

As I came to a halt at the intersection of Dahlia and Florida Avenue, this morning, I could hear a car coming up Dahlia behind me. I was in the right lane, which is also the through lane, waiting for the light to turn green before going straight on down Dahlia.

I glanced over my shoulder, as the car pulled to a halt behind me, and saw that the right turn signal was blinking. I lifted the bike up and stepped to the left side of the lane so that the car could go ahead and turn right on red.

As she pulled up beside me, the lady driving the car rolled down her window.

"Thank you, so much," she said.

"No problem," I replied.

"Have a great morning," she called out, as she started her turn.

"You, too."

I smiled all the way to work, and I am still smiling while I recall this. Isn't it amazing how far a little courtesy and consideration can go?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

New Links, Cameras, Etc.

I added a couple of new links to the sidebar. Up In Alaska is the blog of Jill Homer, a journalist/bicyclist whose entries are worth looking at for just he photography. The fact that her prose is clear, lucid and entertaining is a plus.

Jill did the Iditabike race, last year, and is planning on a return.

Yehuda Moon is a comic about two bike shop owners, one a roadie and the other a transportational cyclist. They bought the shop when the original owner, Fred, was killed by a hit and run driver as he rode his bike along the street. Fred periodically returns and speaks to them, Shakers build the bike frames they sell and, well...Just read it, if you don't, already. Start at the beginning and get caught up.

In other news: I sent my camera back to Nikon about a month ago. This week, I finally emailed them to see what is going on. Good news is that the camera is covered under warranty. Bad news is that they are "waiting on parts which are expected to arrive on December 2". At that point they will "try to get your product back to you as soon as possible."

I wish that the camera business was more like the cell phone business. When my cell phone went bad, earlier this year, I just rode over to the Verizon store, handed them the bad phone and got a new (reconditioned) one in return. No waiting for repairs/parts/shipping. In and out in 20 minutes. I'd gladly take a reconditioned camera rather than wait 6 to 8 weeks to get mine back.

Oh, well.

I pulled the trailer over to the laudromat, this morning, using the Voyager. On the way, my rear tire started losing air. I managed to get to the laundromat before the tire went completely flat.

I put the clothes in the wash, then went outside to fix the flat. I removed the tube, pumped a bit of air into it, and checked to see where the leak was. I found it pretty quickly; a small cut in the rubber, at the edge of a nice clear impression of the shape of a ziptie.

I looked in the tire and, sure enough, there was a ziptie lying in it. I guess it got knocked off of my bench while the tire was leaning against it, or something. I'm just glad the tube chose today to go flat, rather than on a work day during my commute!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nice Day For a Spike Ride

Well, the tires actually have studs, not spikes.

The roads were wet, this morning, and the temps were in the mid 20s, so I swapped wheels over to the studded tires before leaving the house. I think it was the right move. The overpasses were pretty slick, even though the rest of the roads were just wet.

I had forgotten the first rule of studded tire riding: Don't get in a hurry. I rode pretty hard, in both directions, and still took an extra 6 minutes on both legs of the commute.

Tomorrow, back to regular tires.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Random Thoughts

As I have ridden the Voyager back and forth this week I've noticed that I seem to work harder on a bike with multiple freewheeling gears. I say that it "seems" that way because I am comparing my perceived effort to that which I put out on the yellow bike.

Thing is, the yellow bike is not only fixed gear, but I am also running narrower, 700c tires on it. So the extra effort on the Voyager may actually be due to the fatter, heavier tires.

I also notice that, out of a possible 24 gears, I tend to use 3 or 4. That was one of the reasons I went to a single speed in the first place. I noticed that I would go on 50 or 60 mile road rides and never shift.

I shift a few times on the way back and forth on the Voyager simply because I have the option.

(Posted from my new Blackberry Curve)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Okay, I Know You're Probably Sick of This Bike...

Here it is with the rack and bags, along with the second set of wheels with studded snow tires.
I think I'll ride it to work for a couple of days (on the non-studded tires, since it's supposed to be 75 degrees, Monday and Tuesday) and make sure everything's where I want it. Once it snows, I'll be ready to go.
Now, I just need to sell a few bikes to pay for my addiction...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Work In Progress Part 2

I decided to go with the rigid fork from the pink bike. This required a switch to a threadless headset (Campagnolo Record, also from the pink bike).

I had to use a steer-tube extender to get the handlebar where I wanted it. Not the most elegant looking item, but it gets the job done.

I also switched to the big bmx platform pedals, and some Ritchey Trail Max tires. Tomorrow, I'll put the rack on it, and it will be mostly complete. I have another set of wheels I'll set up with the studded snow tires, so that all I have to do is switch wheels when it snows.


Fixed Gear Stumpjumper

Just completed this one for a buddy. He has been riding it as a fixed gear for quite some time. I think I built it up, originally, a little over a year ago.
Dan decided, this fall, to powdercoat the bike and go to Midge bars. I also installed his studded tires for him, in anticipation of snowfall. It's hard to tell in the harsh afternoon light, but it is a nice dark drown. You don't see enough brown bikes.
So, another old mountain bike finds new life.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Well, we almost set a record, here in Denver, for how late our first snowfall occurred. But, we squeaked under by a few days.
It was still coming down when I got up, this morning. So, I hitched the trailer up to the yellow bike (it already had lights on it) and rode over to the grocery store for some dog food and a few other bulky items I didn't get , last time. A couple of miles in the snow is always fun, especially for the first time of the season.
One of the great things about pulling an empty kid-trailer is that cars give you a lot more room on the street. I suspect that will end when I modify the trailer into a rigid-form cargo trailer.
On a side note, I skipped the coffee shop, this morning, and actually made coffee at home, once I returned from the store. Kinda busy, today, and don't want to get stuck at the shop.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I built up this late-60s or early-70s, French-made, Dynamax as a singlespeed for a local customer. He brought me the bike, told me what he wanted, and I took it from there.

Alloy wheels (27"), square taper bottom bracket and crankset (to replace the cottered originals), and flipped bars pretty much remade the bike.

The bottom bracket, oddly enough, was British-thread rather than French. That simplified things a bit.

I also laced up the Ideale seat, in an effort to save it from the trash. The leather is overly soft, as if it's been treated with too much oil or something, yet the skirts were flared like it was dry. I laced it and adjusted the tension nut. Only time will tell if the leather will hold up to use.

The extension on the top of the handlebar is a mount for the generator-powered headlight.

I can't find any info on the Dynamax brand. The frame looks like a Motobecane, but that really doesn't mean anything. Steel tubes and Nervex lugs look the same, no matter who connected them. Plus, I've never seen a Motobecane of this vintage with a British bb shell.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Can I Get a Drumroll, Please?

I found this snare drum on a trash pile, today, on the way home from work. It's a no-name drum, but it does have a Remo head on it.
I strapped it on the rack, and took off.
Every bump I hit made the bungee hit the drum head. So, any stretch of rough pavement resulted in a (literal) drumroll.
I didn't have the dingie bell on the bike, though, unfortunately. So I didn't quite have the one man band thing going.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Work In Progress

I recently acquired another DiamondBack Voyager II. I had one ten years ago, which was the basis of one of my all-time favorite bikes (and probably my favorite ever mountainbike). The one I had ten years ago was stolen out of my truck, one night.

I had built it up with Cook Bros. cranks, a Ti bottom bracket, American Classic hubs, etc, and it weighed in at an ounce or two over 23 pounds! I still miss that bike, and I'm still mad that it got stolen.

Anyway, I bought this one off of Craigslist, for cheap, and decided to build something fun from it. So, out came the Midge bars. I am canniballizing the TREK STP for parts. It will eventually get the XT crankset from the TREK, as well as the brakes and wheels.

I stuck the Frankenseat on it until I come up with another one in better shape, and I'm not sure what I'll do about the fork. I may put the Manitou Black from the TREK on it, or I may go rigid. I haven't really decided. For now, the one that's on there serves the purpose of connecting the wheel to the frame.

I'm thinking that this may become the "winter bike", and I might retire the Pink Bike (at least temporarily) from the rigors of commuting and grocery shopping.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Old School Slightly Updated

I found this early 90s Schwinn Team Issue MTB at the thrift store, about a month ago. It had all Deore DX components, which I consider to be as close to perfect as Shimano ever got.

I've always said that they quit making DX simply because it never wore out, and there was no good reason to upgrade from it to something else. So, Shimano dropped it and started making the more planned-obsolescence kind of stuff.

My buddy Mark wanted the bike, but he wanted to "modernize" it a bit.

I removed the original rigid fork, and the top half of the headset. I replaced the fork with the red Manitou, and the top half of the headset was replaced with that portion of a WTB GreaseGuard threadless headset. An old Specialized threadless stem completed the front end.

I also installed Avid V-brakes to facilitate the stoppage.

Altogether, I think it improved the usability of the bike without totally destroying the character.

I think Mark will like it.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Gonna Take You, Back to School, Yeah

Darryl Funk and I went over to Rich Gangl's shop, yesterday, to get some pointers on how to handle a torch, prepare joints for brazing, etc. Gangl has been doing this since 1979, and really does some pretty work.

Here are some shots of his shop. Click for BIG, it's worth your while if you are interested in this sort of stuff!

Lathe and milling machine.

These are sections of downtubes that Rich has replaced over the years, due to damage. The first orange one from the left is a sction of Masi downtube from Breaking Away. There were two bikes, one used in the movie and one a backup. Dennis Christopher kept the backup, because the movie bike got a bit beat up. It ended up here in Denver, and was eventually wrecked. Rich repaired it, a few years back. (He also has the headtube, which I coveted mightily!)

Some of Rich's personal bikes, now retired, along with his paint curing oven.

Paint booth, more bikes.
Rich was ultra-cool and very willing to help us out. It was a very productive visit.
Now, I have a trerrible case of shop-envy, though.