Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year's Day Is Nigh

Time to start thinking about the New Year's Ride.

It's time for another Tour de Cafe. Coffee shop to coffee shop until we are caffeinated to the gills. Bikes and coffee to ring in the new year.

I'm going to be at Kaladi Brothers around 9:00 AM on Thursday, and plan on leaving around 9:30/9:45. Anyone who wants to join in is welcome. it will be a relaxed, no-drop style ride. Fixed gear, single speed, mountain bike, road bike, cruiser. You ride it, you are welcome to come along.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas To Y'all

From the boys and me.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kinda Cold Out In the Shop

I still don't have heat in the shop building, so it was a bit nippy out there (about 15 degrees F) as I replaced the spoke in the DiamondBack's rear wheel.

It took a lot of truing and tensioning to bring the wheel back into shape. About half the spokes had lost tension, and the rim was way wacky. But, it all came out okay in the end. I even randomly picked up the right length spoke from a pile of various lengths, on the first try.

While I was out in the shop, I busted out the power tools and made these:

"What the heck are they?" you ask? Stay tuned, and I will show you within a two or three days time. The paint needs to dry, and a few other arrangements need to be made before they can be put to work.

Feel free to continue with your seasonal celebrations while you wait.

In other (terrific) news, the Solstice is past! Yay! The days are going to get longer, and we can begin that long slow creeping climb back into Spring! Exclamation points!!!


Friday, December 19, 2008

Thumpthump...Aw, Man!

About a third of the way home, I cross 8th Avenue on Kearney. A block later, I turn one block east then ride on Krameria until I cross 6th Ave. and enter Crestmoor Park.

Today, I crossed 8th and, about halfway down the block, a squirrel ran out into the road and right under my wheels.


I got him with both wheels. It was so sudden that I couldn't even try to bunnyhop him. Two wheels, two studded tires, with my full weight on the bike... Yet, when I looked back, I saw the squirrel run off the road and into a yard.

I couldn't believe that he wasn't dead (and he may be, by now). But, I couldn't think of anything to do, so I just kept riding.

I noticed, about a mile down the street, that the bike seemed to be shimmying a little. I stopped and looked at the tire pressure on the back, since the shimmy seemed to originate there. The tire looked good, so I rode on.

As I went, the shimmy became more pronounced. Then, the tire started hitting the chainstay. Yep, another broken spoke on the rear wheel. Driveside, of course.

Revenge of the squirrel?

Now, this isn't the same rear wheel on which I broke a spoke a few weeks ago: Same bike, different wheel.

Looks like I'll be out in the shop, this weekend, 15 degree high temperatures notwithstanding. Oh, well; I needed another project/chore to keep me busy. Not.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

No Riding Like Snow Riding

Snow riding is a popular topic amongst bloggers, lately. Noah, Apertome and Jill (of course) and many others have posted about it within the past couple of days.

Everyone agrees that riding in the snow is special. Fun. Inspiring, even.

One thing nobody ever mentions, and maybe I'm just a sissy, but snow riding kicks my ass! It is somewhere in the range of twice as much perceived effort, when I compare it to riding on bare pavement.

Maybe it is the cold, combined with the snowy surface, but my legs are pretty wiped out, and it's only Wednesday. Of course, a couple of afternoons of sun and warmer temperatures have altered the road surface on my commute. It is no longer just a "snow" ride.

The road surface varies from sugary snow, to packed snow, ice, bare pavement and something that resemble a Coke Slurpee or a rootbeer float spilled all over the street (sometimes all of the above within the space of a city block). Adjusting to the varying conditions, even with the studded tires, takes a lot of concentration and causes me to tense up a bit. That probably adds to the fatigue induced by the ride.

But, I still can't imagine getting in the car and driving to work.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Face of A Madman

This is me, ariving home from work, today.

When I left the house, this morning, the temperature was hovering around 15 degrees below zero. I dressed for the ride in much the same manner that I dressed yesterday. I was very comfortable, yesterday, when it was one below, but I was a hat shy of comfort this morning.

When I left the lab, this afternoon, the temp had risen to two above zero (our official high, out at DIA). I thought I probably still needed another layer of head protection, so I covered my helmet with an "Old Chicago" plastic bag and packing tape.

Perfect. I was actually pretty comfy all the way home... and stylish, in a dumpster-diving homeless guy sort of way.

I had gotten a late start from the lab, so it was fully dark by the time I got home and the temp had dropped a bit. The protective layer of ice on the whiskers kept my face sheltered from the wind, but apparently frozen in an expression of perpetual surprise.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Fuji Fixed Gear

I built this Fuji up for my buddy Mark, today. I took the pictures while I was waiting for him to come pick it up. He was bringing the bar tape, so the bars are bare in the photos. I wanted to get the pictures before the sun went down, though.

Pretty basic build, but it came out nice. Twenty-three pounds, with a pretty heavy bottom bracket and a steel seatpost.

I wrapped the bars in the "natural" colored cork tape that Mark brought, then finished it off with hemp twine. Mark may or may not shellac it.

High temperature in Denver is supposed to be 15 degrees F, with some snow coming in, tomorrow. So, I wanted to get the bike to Mark in time that he could at least get a ride in on it before the roads got icy. He's at Washingtom Park putting in some night laps, right now.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Guitar Digression

I recently decided I wanted another Telecaster-style guitar. I can't really justify spending the money for an actual Fender, so I decided to get on eBay and see if I could find a decent copy priced cheaply enough that I could afford to swap pickups. I had a Telecaster, 10 or 11 years ago, that I sold because I really didn't like the sound of the stock pickups.

But, I loved how it played. The neck on a Tele is one of my favorites, and I like the body style. So, I figured I would get as close as I could to the Fender, and install some humbucking pickups. As I looked through the eBay listings, I was extremely pleased to find this, with a $150.00 Buy It Now price:

Squire is Fender's imported line, so they are actually affordable. So, I found exactly what I was looking for, with a case! At least, according to the listing, it had a case.

When it got here, it had no case. It did have a nice new, rather large, chip in the paint. I sent the following message to the seller:

I received the guitar today and I must say I am disappointed.

Firstly, the title of the listing led me to believe that I would be receiving a hardshell case with this guitar, and none was included. Secondly, it arrived with a substantial chip out of the paint (I will email you a picture separately, as I can't attach pictures on an eBay message).

If the chip was not there when the guitar was shipped, and occurred in shipping, that even further displeases me that the case was not included. If it was there, then...

Anyway, I am not going to leave Feedback until I hear from you. At this juncture, it would not be positive feedback, at all.

This is the picture I sent him, separately:

This is from his listing:

I'd say it's pretty obviously not "as listed".

This was his reply (the bold emphasis is mine, all caps is his):

Sorry, but it does not come with a hardshelll case. My father listed it, who is new to ebay & & only listed 1 or 2 things ever. He confused it with a black Mexico tele we have that did with a case. But come on.....A case alone is $100+ so you should of known just at the price alone you weren't getting a case & a guitar...that would be like paying $50 for the guitar if it had came with a hardshell case. You can't get a tele AND a hardshell case for $150....if a case was included with the auction it would have said in the auction "Comes in a hardshell case" As for the chips, the auction clearly states "It does have a few chips here & there around the edges as well as a few scratches here in there" so I don't know why you would be suprised when you get it & it has a chip in the paint......thats what the auction said, there should of been no suprises to see chips. It also said if you have any questions feel free to let me know. If chips bother you, the you shouldln't have bidded on a guitar that the auction said there was chips, & also you should of asked for a picture of the chips if you thought it was going to be an issue.

At any rate, its a USED $150 guitar which clearly stated it had chips & scratches. I am not going to send you a case, as I don't even have one nor did it say in the auction it would come with one, & I'm not going to give you a partial refund on a $150 guita r b/c its got a chip you don't like. If you don't want the guitar then ship it back & I'll relist it & sell it to someone else. Once I receive the guitar back I will refund you your money.

I immediately left him a negative feedback. First time I've ever done that.

That led to an email exchange between him and me where he just got irate that I had left him a negative. "You can check my feedback, which you will see is 100% and I've NEVER had a negative feeback...."

Which is a bald-faced lie. I looked at his feedback, and he has another negative, and some other positives where the buyers made comments about being a little less than satisfied.

The lesson: Always check the feedback before you buy.

I finally told him to just forget it. I wasn't going to ship it back to him at my expense (his only offer), so that he could then refund me my money. The guitar is playable, and it was just what I wanted.
I never asked for my money back. Twenty dollars to cover the damage and a polite explanation of the mis-listing would have made me happy as a clam.

As I said, in my last email to him, "You know, I hate to be blunt about this but, if you had simply been nicer to me about this it would have turned out differently."

This is how the guitar looks, now:

My problem: I like a guitar to either look fairly new when I get it, so that any wear it has later is mine. Or, I want it to be fairly beat, with that "patina of age" that a well-used guitar gets.

So: Do I try to repair the finish, which will never look perfect no matter what I do; or do I go ahead and "age" it in the style of the Fender factory "Relic"?

"Relic" Tele

It would be a lot easier to "age" it than to repair it. What do you think I should do?


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Home, Sweet Home

I just spent the past 4 days riding around western Colorado in the back seat of a Dodge Durango. We were doing our annual tour of Region Labs, inspecting their equipment and checking their paperwork.

From Denver to Glenwood, then on to Grand Junction on Monday. From Grand Junction to Durango, via Telluride (Red Mountain Pass was closed) on Tuesday. Durango to Alamosa on Wednesday, then home, today.

I tell you what: Driving that many miles in that many days wears you out. I was so glad to get on the bike and ride from my office to the house, this afternoon!

Now, I get to start on some projects that I left in limbo as I went out of town.

Stay tuned.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

More Schreckengostian Goodness

I just picked up another Murray cruiser. It's too stripped down to tell what model (or brand, for that matter - Western Flyer, Sears, J.C. Higgins, Murray?) it was sold as. I can only tell it was built sometimes in the late 1950s to early 70s.

It has the cool Viktor Schreckengost (hi, Frankenbiker) designed rear dropouts, but a standard cantilever frame. So, it could be one of a couple dozen variations.
I picked it up mainly because of the rear baskets (and the brand-new Electra tires, which are worth more than I paid for the bike). I have been planning on building up a grocery bike with rear baskets and a porteur rack, so I figure this one is already halfway there. The black rattlecan paint won't be too affected by staying out in the weather, so it can be a true pack mule, without worrying about the aesthetics of the bike.
I'll probably use my copper pipe prototype that I built as a pattern for the rack I need to finish for Mark Overly. Or, I might build one from slotted shelf supports (I saw one on a blog, somewhere, and it looked pretty cool).
And, of course, I just had to have another project to work on.
More, as it develops.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Nice Bars!

A while back, I gave this old Huffy cruiser to one of my neighbors. Reed is a bit older than me, a Harley-riding landscape contractor. Hell of a nice neighbor.

Anyway, he told me he was looking for a bike like this, so I gave it to him. He rode it a little, but told me that he was constantly hitting his knees on the handlebars. He didn't want to do the Beach Cruiser thing and tilt them up, so I replaced the original handlebars with these old 1-inch diameter Harley riser bars.

I figure Reed will feel more at home with these. It feels like you're on a Harley when you ride the thing!


Glad I Live In A Good Neighborhood

Got home yesterday and there was a box on my front portch, clearly marked as being from Nikon. Yes! The camera is finally back.

Just glad none of the local grommets was interested in it.