Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Someone In the Peloton Knows Me

I stopped at one of the major cross streets (Montview? Maybe.) on my way to work, this morning, to let a group of about 20 riders pass by. Looked to be a morning training ride, or something. Lots of lycra, etc.

Anyway, I was waving and saying good morning as they went by, and one of them called out, "Hey, Jon!"

Well, I didn't see who it was, unfortunately. So, if you're reading this, let me know it was you.

Beautiful day for a ride, too. Fifty two degrees when I left the house, 82 when I got home (a bit windy, though).


Friday, April 25, 2008

You Say Bicycle...

I say Tow Truck. (Click photo for BIG.)
The next time someone says that you don't need so many bikes, since you can only ride one at a time, you can correct them. It's possible to ride at least two, at once.
I had worked on this HardRock and needed to get it back to its owner, at work, today and she couldn't come pick it up. So, I mounted one of those bolt-in truck-bed fork clamps onto my Blackburn rack and did the Beverly Hillbillies thing.

I was a little worried about it, but it actually wasn't too bad of a ride. I left a little early and took it slow, and got to work with no problems.
I ran some straps from the grips of the HardRock to the frame of the Miami Vice bike, just in case the fork worked it way loose, or something. Didn't need them, but better safe than whatever.
My trick knee, which did its one and only trick last Friday and won't let me walk up stairs without a lot of theatrics, even felt okay pulling the extra weight. As the day went by, however, it got more and more sore. By the time I headed home, I was walking with a limp, again, and accellerating the bike from stops using just my right leg, until I got rolling.
The knee is just going to have to hurt. Thursday of next week (!) will mark my one year of exclusively bike commuting to work. So, I'm not going to stay off the bike just because of a sore knee.
You don't have to be crazy...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tonight's Very Special Guest Star: Dan Piraro

Dan Piraro is the artist behind my favorite single-panel comic, ever, Bizarro. He is also a stand-up comic and, a while back, had his one man show on the road. I emailed him, and invited (or begged, if you prefer) him to bring the show to Denver. I even offered to set him up with a Vespa on which he could tear about town like a crazed ex-Texan comic artist now residing in NooYawk.

Sadly, he was unable to make it to Denver. (On the plus side, he neglected to serve me with a restraining order, so I continued to email him, occasionally.)

Eventually, Dan put me on his email list, and I quit bugging him since I was getting regular updates without having to hang around his virtual doorway, waiting to see him slip out for a Cuba Libre. Through this list, he informed the chosen of the creation of his new blog, BizarroBlog. It contains news of his comings and goings, the activism of his Crazy Half-Nekkid Wife, and the daily Bizarro comics (a week behind the times, as is usual for this sort of thing).

It's kinda like my sketch blog, only with content, good art and humor thrown in.

Today, I (once again) emailed Dan and asked him if he was interested at all in bike commuting, or bikes or general. He not only sent me a gracious reply, but also included these two photos to post here:

Dan on his Pederson, with its distinctive hammock seat...

and, with the Crazy Half-Nekkid Wife on his 1981 Vespa, of which he is the original and only owner.

Dan Piraro, will you be my Celebrity BFF?


Monday, April 21, 2008

Another Milestone

I hit 3500 miles of commuting, since last May 1, today. This is not counting any miles other than those back and forth between work and home.

The 25 mph headwind was a nice festive touch. Really made the day special.

Mark and I returned to the Junque Yard, last Friday. I'll post pictures and details, later.

Today, I just don't have the right frame of mind.

A friend of mine, and his family, suffered a tragic loss over the weekend. Out of respect for them, I am going to simply ask that that you remember them in your thoughts, prayers, or whatever you use to send positive energy out into the universe.

Thank you.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Panniers Are Here!

I just set them on the rack to get an idea how they will look on the Clubman. In opinion, they look cracking good! (Click pictures for embiggening.)

They are quite voluminous. I should have put the handlebar bag on, as well, to see how it visually balances the bike, fore and aft. Maybe I'll do that, tomorrow.

I am ultra-impressed with the quality of construction, and the heavy duty materials these bags are made of. I can see them lasting through decades of constant use. Weight-weenies should steer clear of them, though.

I will definitely be sourcing up some rims, this weekend, so that I can then size the spokes. I am very anxious, now, to get this bike on the road. Then, I will don my woolen knickers and sweater, pull up my knee socks and Bob's your uncle! British-style touring at it's finest.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Two Hundred

Today was my 200th round trip, commuting by bike, since I started the May-to-May challenge. Two hundred trips by bike, zero by motor vehicle.

Those who read this blog regularly may recall that on my 100th day, I was backed into by a car while waiting at a stop-sign. No such excitement today.

Although, it was a little breezy, on the way home. According to the weather guys, the wind was blowing from the SSW (the direction I ride home, so it was a pretty direct headwind) at 36 mph, gusting to 45. I almost ground to a halt, in a couple of places.

But, the sun was shining, and the temp was 76 F. So, no complaints from me.

Rain and snow, with highs in the 40s are predicted for the next couple of days.



Sunday, April 13, 2008

Errors, Mistakes and General News

First, the error: The bike that HBC and I built, the other day, was a Hiawatha, rather than a Hercules. We didn't realize that until Brad found the original head badge, in a box of parts.

The mistake: I apparently overheated one of the joints on the frame I modified, and the downtube cracked. Luckily, Brad noticed it before we went any farther.

So, I am going to try it, again. This time, I'll be using the red Scorcher frame. I transferred the parts from it to the yellow RockHopper frame I picked up from the scrapyard, a few weeks back.

Brad gets the red one, because he wants two brakes, and has a particular set of cantilevers in mind. The yellow one has an under-the-chainstay U-brake, and I like the clean look of the seatstays. So, I spent a good portion of yesterday building the yellow Scorcher, and rode it to the coffee shop and back, this morning.

It rides (of course) pretty much like the red one. Now, I'll put the bags on it and ride it to work, tomorrow.

You may have noticed that the fork doesn't match the bike. The original fork wouldn't clear the bigger wheels and tires, but I had a nice StumpJumper fork lying about. It was a threadles fork, so I had to thread it to work with the original headset and stem. Worked out nicely.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Typical Springtime Commute in Denver

It's hard to believe that we're supposed to get 3 to 5 inches of snow, tonight, when it's 53 degrees as I'm leaving the lab. I get outside and, even though the temp is okay, I'm chilled by the the wind and the lack of sun. Before leaving the parking lot, I pull out my long-sleeved jacket and put the wind vest in the bag.

Heading south, I am pushing against a headwind which had informed was "16 mph gusting to 19 mph". I'm thinking that might be a conservative estimate. I am a mile into the ride when it starts raining... lightly at first. Then, it's raining harder. Then, it's hailing on me.

I stop and put on my rain chaps I made from an old pair of rain pants, and continue on. I am wearing my prescription glasses, and the rain is getting in my eyes, but it's not worth it to stop and dig the safety glasses out of the bag.

POW! I catch a hailstone, borne by one of the 19 mph gusts, apparently, in my left eye. I am blinded in that eye, temporarily. The sight comes back, but the eye still hurts. I stop and dig my safety glasses out of the bag, then dig the glasses case for the Rx glasses out, and stow them safely away. Dressed for the weather, I continue on, only to ride out of the shower within a half mile.

"Oh, well," I think. "I'm not gonna stop again, to take this stuff off."

Ten minutes later, I am glad I made that decision, as I am once again riding through hail, accompanied by lightning and thunder (I always love that, on a bike).

I am halfway home.

I continue on, enjoying a brief tailwind as I turn through the park approaching Holly, where I cross Cherry Creek. Once across the creek, I stop for a moment in City of Potenza Park and check to see who just called me on my cell phone. It was the vet, reminding me that Jack has an appointment, tomorrow night.

I continue along my merry way, speaking to a couple of dog walkers, and exit out onto the street. As I go south, the rain abates, and small patches of dry pavement appear on the road. The wind continues to push me backward like the hand of a vengeful god, but I just plug along (uphill for a mile) because, really: What else is there to do?

I pull up to the intersection at Dahlia and Evans, in the through lane, and see a guy on the sidewalk waiting to cross Evans in the crosswalk. He's on a bicycle, and I start to think something snarky, only to realize that, as soon as I cross Evans, I'm hitting the sidewalk on the wrong side of the street so that I can cross the Overpass of Doom and get to the other side of I-25 and into my neighborhood. So, I think good thoughts, and sprint across Evans as the light changes.

The roads are completely dry in my neighborhood.

Three and a half minutes later, I pull into my drive. Fifty minutes have elapsed since I left the lab, 9 miles away. I feel like I was really slow, but I think about it and I don't feel too bad. The 50 minutes include the stops to don rain gear, wait for traffic, etc. So, all in all, I feel like it was a pretty good ride.

Most of them are.


Sunday, April 06, 2008

One More Little Bike Job To Close Out the Weekend

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a pretty busy weekend, bike-wise. Since it's supposed to rain for a few days, this week, I decided to put some fenders on the Scorcher.

Unfortunately, the road fenders I have won't fit the MTB frame, and the mountain bike fenders won't fit around the bigger wheels.

So, I reverse-engineered these old 3-speed fenders to fit. A little cutting, a little drilling, some zip-ties... I never said it was gonnabe pretty. But, these should do the job.

And, I kinda like the mismatched look, on this bike.

Bring on the rain, then!


Missed a Milestone/Busy Weekend

The post about the chrome bike was my 200th post on this blog, and I just completely missed that fact. It's not real important, by any measure, but I like those round numbers.

Got a lot done, this weekend:

Bought some supplies at the welding shop which made my life a bit easier (an extra Acetylene bottle and an Oxy bottle twice as big as my old one, plus some finer gauge brazing rod). I was having a lot of problems with a project I'm working on, due to running out of gas, etc., and this stuff helped me get the job done. I worked on that particular project until 11:00 PM on Thursday night (that's part of the weekend when you have Friday off).

Thursday Night's Project:
Took this KHS I'm building into a scorcher for HBC...

and added the secondary top tube to give it that vintage/retro flava. I sprayed a quick flat black ghetto paint job on it for the photo, but it is going to the powdercoater for a real finish. I will post photos, of course, once it is built up into its final form.

Did laundry... after 3 weeks. 'Nuff said.

Built two bikes: one that was sold, one for HBC's wife.

This is the sold bike, a nice Miyata commuter with a freewheel and fixed-gear set-up on the flipflop hub. It came out really nice.

This is Mrs. Click's Hercules 3-speed. I think it's one of the coolest-looking bikes I've built. HBC and I spent about 8 hours on it, yesterday. Seemed like every piece that went on presented some kind of challenge.

Next up: Grocery shopping! Time to hook up the bike trailer...


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Thanks For The Tip!

This is the keycard from the Super 8 Motel we stayed in, last week, in Grand Junction. It has a short list of instructions for how to use the electronic key.

My favorite is the last one. You sure wouldn't want to go through all of the technical steps preceding it, then break your nose because you forgot to Open the door!


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Fruita Trip

Well, Rich and I made it to Grand Junction/Fruita, and back, with no problems. We came back to Denver ahead of a big storm which ended up causing highway closures and a huge 70 car pile-up on I-70, yesterday.

Here we are in the parking lot, Saturday, getting ready to ride with Rich's friends (who had gone to GJ on Friday). Rich has a full-suspension Yeti, and the other guys were on similar fully-suspended rigs. I was on the 69er, with the rigid fork.

Nope, I didn't crash. That resulted when a carnivorous man-eating tree reached out from the inside of a turn and tried to eat some Buffalo Jon Wings. It doesn't count unless the blood gets in your glove.
This one counted. Kinda like getting cut with a dull, turpentine-covered knife.

Here's Rich, Tim, Rich II and me at the top of the Ribbon Trail, above GJ. You can see across the valley, behind us. I have on long sleeves, because we had gotten to an elevation where there was still snow on the north-facing slopes, and the breeze was a bit chilly.
I happened to lead the pack back down the first granite-slab portion of the trail. Top speed of 24 mph. I think the full-suspension guys were a bit confused about me staying in front. None of them seemed to understand that I was riding rigid by choice, not because I'm a penniless bum.
I am a penniless bum, of course, but that has little to do with my bike choice.

One of these days I'll learn that if I ask myself, "Can I make it through that?" that the answer is probably "NO!" I don't normally shave my legs, but I decided to shave part of this one with a granite boulder, as I slid along its top surface, listening to metal shave off of my bike frame as it, too, slid across the rock.
The 69er worked great, for me, with the exception of a bent chainring causing hideous, repeated, chain suck. This made me ride in the middle ring on the last third of the ride, or so. Still, I'd say that 99% of the trail I didn't ride was due to my lack of skill or conditioning, not some limitation of the bike.
At the end of the first day's ride, we had covered 14.4 miles of gnarly, technical trail.
That night, we all ate ribs then sat around the campfire for a couple hours. The other guys were staying in a pop-up camper at the state park in Fruita, and I drank a bottle of wine while the other guys polished off a little mini-keg of beer.
Rich and I retired to the Super 8 at the end of the evening. As we walked to the car, Rich II came up and said, "So, what's the deal with that bike you rode today?"
"What?" I asked, not sure what he was asking.
"Why were you riding that bike? What's the deal with that bike?"
I, with Rich V's help, tried to explain that:
a. it was the bike I had built up, and
b. I just like riding it.
I don't think he ever understood why I wasn't on a full-suspension bike, like all the magazines say you should be.
The next day, RV and I lazed around the motel, eating the free breakfast and watching Myth Busters on TV, until 10:00. We then went to Single Tracks bike shop, in Fruita, and I replaced my small ring. The guy there was ultra cool, and offered me tools and a stand to do the labor, so all I had to pay for was the ring, itself.
Rich and I hit the trails at 18 Road (video has LOUD soundtrack), and had a blast. We only rode about 9.6 miles, and the wind started howling in advance of the storm front which was to chase us home. We got back to the parking lot just as the other guys were pulling in.
So, after saying our goodbyes, we hit the road and hotfooted it back to Denver, on dry roads with a tailwind. Two hours after we hit town, I saw that it was snowing so hard on Vail pass that chain laws were in effect. Seems like we timed it pretty well.
The commute to work and back, yesterday, was kinda painful on my old legs. Looking back over the past two weekends, I have ridden 70 miles on the fixed gear, commuted seven days (counting yesterday and today) and ridden the trails on the Western Slope. Pretty big week for me, especially at this time of year.
Coincidentally, I hit 3300.0 miles, even, on the year-long commute, today. Eleven months in the bag: I have one month to go on the One-Year Challenge.