Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Number Nine...Number Nine...

Disassembled the Soma 4ONE5, and built up a Raleigh XXIX. I was looking for a XXIX frame when I ended up buying the Soma, because I couldn't find the Raleigh.

This is the ninth commuter I've built up within the two years I've been doing the daily ride in. Why? Well, it's a long story, and I'm a bit tired. So, let's leave that until the next post. Suffice it to say, that each iteration has been some sort of improvement on the previous version.
Number Nine is just the latest step on the evolutionary ladder.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Association Pins Are Temporarily Out of Stock

Please email me about any future orders. Please, do not PayPal any money, at this time.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Scouting the Race Course

A while back, I signed up for the 24 Hours of E-Rock, which will take place on June 5th and 6th. I planned on going down to Greenland Open Space and checking out the course, right away, but 6 rainy weekend in a row, while good for the greenery, kept me from going down there. (Actually, I tried to ride there a couple of weeks ago, but the trail was literally over-run by racers taking part in a foot race, so I rode elsewhere.)

You can see the trail snaking down the hill back to the parking lot/trailhead.

Everyone I talked to who had been there assured me that the trail was nice; non-technical with relatively little climbing. But, I really wanted some first-hand knowledge so that I could decide which bike to use, how to plan out my race strategy (survival being first on the list of goals, 100 miles of riding being next), and so that I wouldn't take off into the Great Unknown on the first lap.

A view to the west: Foggy mountains and really green grass, for this area. It's been a wet Spring.
This morning dawned foggy, and showers were in the forecast. But, the race is two weeks away, and I didn't have any other plans keeping me from going, so I loaded up the Frontier and took off. After dropping by the "new" coffee shop on Colorado for a fill-up, I headed south. Greenland is about 35 miles down I-25 from my house, so it's a pretty easy place to get to.

I've pretty much finally built the "MonsterCross" bike, even though some people say the disc brakes make it illegitimate. That's fine, it is kinda bastardized, after all.

I took the 1x8x29 (formerly the 29er singlespeed/29er fixed gear/29er 3-speed). This poor bike has been built up, torn down, cannibalized (the original front wheel is on the SuperCommuter, so I swapped to these), yet has never been offroad, until today. Let me tell you, though, as it sits I couldn't have built a more perfect bike for the Greenland race. The only thing I might change is to put the small ring back on, so that I have a bail-out for those late laps when I'm dragging my butt around like a tractor-pull weight sled. If I do, I probably won't even put a derailleur and shifter on it, so that I won't over-use the granny.

Nobody likes an over-used granny, y'know...


The wheels I used to replace the original black single-speed/3-speed set have a full-sized freehub body, and I had a nice 12/32 XT cassette sitting idle, and that determined the bike's fate to become a 1x8. I stuck an early-80s Shimano bar-end shifter on it, and hooked that up to a late-80s Shimano "Light Action" short-cage road derailleur. Even though the shifter was designed for use with a 5-speed freewheel, and the derailleur was made for a 7-speed drivetrain, and I'm running an 8-speed cassette, everything works just fine.


I ended up doing three laps of the course (25.5 miles) in under 3 hours, including stops at the car to adjust the Jon Grinder trademark (crooked stem) and get a snack. I pushed it pretty hard on the second lap to see how fast I could get around (35 minutes) and lollygagged around it on the third lap, taking pictures and pretending like I was in hour 12 and dragging (50 minutes). I think my goal of 100 miles in 24 hours is doable. I just don't want another wasted effort like debacle that was the 24 Hours of Moab!

Randy C (hippest cat I know) is going to take the night shift, and be camp manager. No one else is slated to be there during the day, so feel free to come on down and hang out. It's always nice to have company at camp when you come in for supplies. The Solo riders are allowed to drive into their campsite, so just find the Frontier, if you drop by, and I'll see you between laps.

BTW: I'm apparently recovered from the bout of Sciatica. I was a bit worried, when the leg was still hurting on Thursday. But I woke up in good shape, this morning, and the ride didn't cause it to flare up again. Fingers crossed!

Oh, and speaking of fingers, I experienced some pretty bad hand-numbness during and after the ride. I guess I need to get some more heavily-padded gloves for the race. The Petzl belaying gloves that I love so much for normal riding just aren't going to cut it on long offroad efforts.

Ta, for now. Enjoy your holiday weekend, and don't forget the true meaning of Memorial Day.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Street Schwag

Back when I was commuting down south of Parker, I found a lot of stuff along the highway; wallets, credit cards, purses, tools, etc. I returned everything for which I could determine an owner, like the credit cards and purses/wallets, but tools and things I just kept.

Riding through town, I don't find that much stuff lying about. More pedestrians mean fewer useful items in the street.

Above, however, are a few things I've picked up, lately. The large black item is a TV station tuner/weather radio from Sony. Next to it is a digital pedometer. Continuing clockwise I have a 10mm wrench, a 15mm wrench and a pair of pliers. Not pictured is the smaller pair of pliers that Mark found in the road and left with me, nor the various SAE wrenches and sockets I've found and donated to the tool chest at work.

Oh, I did find a wallet, a few weeks back. It belonged to a young man who lived about a block east of one of the roads I ride on the way home, so I just called him up and arranged to drop it off with his mom.

Found anything good, lately?


Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I got about a mile away from the house, this morning, and realized that I wasn't wearing my helmet. Now, I don't wear a helmet 100 percent of the time, bit I do wear it when commuting.

There are a couple reasons why I commute with a lid on, but it's mainly just a PR move. People along the route, whether drivers or pedestrians, seem to think of the helmet as a sign of responsibility. Or, at least, it seems to be that way.

I didn't even have on a hat or cap.

Usually, if I am sans helmet I will be sporting a chapeau of some sort. The 65 degree temperature, this morning, probably factored in on my not noticing a total lack of headwear. I did't feel the chill on my balding pate until I was heading downhill on Dahlia.

I didn't want to turn around and go back for it, so I just rode on to work with no helmet. I'll wear my "work.hat" home, just so I don't feel so conspicuous


Sunday, May 17, 2009

So Far, Today

After a few days of being laid up with Sciatic nerve problems, it feels good to be back on the bike. I still have a bit of moderate pain down the leg, but I'm able to get around. For most of this past week, I was pretty much immobilized. But I woke up feeling good, yesterday, and I was actually able to ride the bike to the coffee shop and back.

I did the same, this morning. While I was there, I saw this old Western Flyer locked to a rack where some guy leaves bikes with "For Sale" signs on them. This one doesn't have a notice attached to it, but I assume it's one of his. (The one behind it has a sign on it.)

It's unusual to see one of these with drop bars. This is just a Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub away from being perfect. Pretty cool, as is.
This two-cable twist grip shifts the rear derailleur. These Push/Pull systems are early attempts at indexed shifting.

The derailleur usually has the indexing built into it, rather than the "modern" method of building the indexing into the shifter. Shimano had a system, which used one stiff cable rather than two flexible cables, called Positron. I always thought that would make a good name for a Transformer robot...

On the way home, I decided to cut across the campus of the University of Denver (DU, for some reason, rather than UD.) As I approached the main drive, going out of the eastern side of campus, to cross University Blvd., I spotted these two guys:

Hidey Hole

I got pretty close to them. I assume that they are used to people gawking at them.

I just wish I had taken my camera along, this morning. I should get into that habit. The Crackberry camera is okay, as cell-phone cameras go, but it's not nearly as nice as the CoolPix.

So, now I'm sitting in the shade of my shop building. Lunch is eaten, and the blog post is done. I think I'll go mail off the pins which people have ordered (see the next blog post down), and maybe do some bike work.

Just my typical Sunday.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Are You A Caffeinated Rider? (Edited)

Temporarily out of stock. Please contact me by email about future purchases.

Then, wear your addiction with pride!

These enamelled brass pins are 1 inch in diameter with a nice high-quality retainer on the back.

Brad Click designed the pin, andit looks awesome in person. (Click on the picture for a better look at it.)

Suggested serving method...
Great for your hat, jacket, seat bag, helmet...whatever! $6.00 each, postpaid within the United States.
Pay by PayPal ( My email address is also the PayPal address: jjgrinder at msn dot com.)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Reader's Bike: Robert Sisson's Sillgey

Bob emailed me, a while back, asking where I had gotten the Formula 1 frame. I told him that Nick at Rockfish had built it, and I had modified it into a fixed gear. When Bob tried to get ahold of Nick, he didn't have any luck.

So, I sent him a link to Sillgey. Their Piccolo is basically what I had converted my 7-speed Rockfish to. In one of those "universe balancing itself" moves, Bob bought a Piccolo frame and had a derailleur hanger welded on and built it up as a multispeed mini-velo.

And, he did a damned nice job of it, too! (There is a close-up of the rear triangle, as well, on the Sillgey site.)


Sunday, May 10, 2009


"I'm sorry,"

"so sorry."

Two pound of steak left on the cutting board while I went outside for a few minutes...undeniable canine temptation.
That's pretty much the story, in a nutshell.
Sorry, but well fed...


In response to the repeat problems I've had with spokes breaking on the ghetto bike, I figured that I'd try something a bit beefier, tire-wise. It seems to me that having a bit more meat on the rims might protect the spokes from stress.

So, I converted the 29er 3-speed to temporary commuter duty, and got on the internet looking for a steel frame to go with the lugged fork I had picked up a while ago. After searching far and wide, I finally just ordered a Soma 4ONE5. It's actually built for 26" wheels, but I figured I'd be able to adapt it to 29" wheels and tires, since it has track-ends rather than dropouts. With the semi-smooth tires, it works fine. I don't think that I could run knobby 2.2s, though.

I wanted to run fixed gear, of course. But, I also wanted to run disc brakes (Iknow...I know...). It's pretty much impossible to find a disc-ready fixed hub, though.

So, I converted a 29er mtb flip-flop rear wheel to a fixed gear/disc brake wheel by using one of these. The spin-on adapter lined up perfectly with the caliper, and even came with a rotor which was exactly the same as the rotors on the mechanical discs I use. So, now I have a spare.

Once the Soma frame arrived, I gathered up parts and prepped the frame for the build. I waited until this weekend to actually build it. I didn't want to have to hurry the build in order to be able to ride to work the next day.

So, today, I built the bike.

(Click pictures for BIG)

Getting the fenders to fit was the biggest challenge. I've never seen "29er" fenders, and the widest 700c version I could find was too narrow. So, I had to futz around with some 26" mtb fenders, which were wide enough, but have a different radius to their arc, and get them to work.

The rear fender is attached to the deck of the rack, and trimmed a bit short. This allowed me to forego use of the stays, and allows the rear-exit wheel to come out a bit more easily than it would with a full-length fender.

I wanted a silver mustache-style bar, and Cycle Analyst had one in stock. Coincidentally, it happened to be a Soma bar. I'm not enough of a brand-whore to do that on purpose, but I don't mind it.

I modified the clamps on the brake levers to fit onto the larger-diameter bars. For grips, I used cork tape. I might put some actual grips on it later. (I've stretched rubber mtb grips on road-diameter bars, before.)

Shimano cranks, Brooks B-15, Cateye cyclometer, dingy bell...the rest of the bike is just more of the same as what I usually put together. The stem is an old Profile BOA that I had on my mountain bike back in 1998 or '99.

So, there it is: The Super Commuter. Let's see how long it takes to start breaking spokes on this one.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Bloggity, Blog, Blog, Blog

You may have noticed that I added a link to AntBikes, over there on the right. Mike makes bikes the way I'd like to make them, and I like to read his occasional blog posts. The latest post on his blog concerns the fact that he doesn't read a lot of blogs, and uses his mostly as a marketing thing. I wish that he felt otherwise because, as I said, I do like to read what he has to say.

I, myself, like to make blog posts. Carol often says something along the line of, "I don't know how you bloggers find the time to sit on the computer all the time." And, I've never really had an answer to that, until now.

Mike's post set me to thinking, and I realized something that I'd never really thought of, directly. I dont "find" time to post...I make time. The blogging is a one of my hobbies, just like building bikes, drawing and playing guitar. I don't operate under a deadline (obviously, considering the fact that it's been 5 days since I last posted), and I don't have to please anyone but myself with it. I hope that I do, but it's hard to tell unless someone leaves a comment.

I like getting comments, whether they are in agreement with me, or not. It lets me know someone is out there, and it turns the blog into a conversation, of sorts. That's the one thing that makes the art blogs difficult for me: I get very few comments.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not fishing for compliments. Even something along the lines of, "I'm surprised you haven't haven't suffocated. Your lack of talent makes it hard to believe that you could even draw a realistic breath," is better than nothing.

Hell, I even enjoyed the comment about shoving my bike up my ass, over on 52 Card. I was perplexed by it, but still amused.

Anyway, this is what I was thinking about on the ride home, today. It's 84 degrees F and sunny, with very little wind, so I was riding a nice relaxed pace, and cogitating as I went along. I know it has nothing to do with bikes (motor- or push-), but I thought it bore typing out, anyway.

I might start yet another blog for this random kind of stuff; things I think about and compose in my mind but never post due to their extreme randomness. Because, you know, I don't have enough to do, every day, and I feel the need to start something else up.

Later, my little birds...


Friday, May 01, 2009

Birthday Ride Revision

Well, enough people have expressed interest in the ride, but then added that "I don't think I can ride 48 miles," that I feel the need to change the format. I can ride 48 miles any day (heck , my actual birthday isn't until Sunday, anyway), and I'd rather get a group ride together to do 15 or 20 miles than ride alone.

So, if you are interested in riding a nice relaxed, sociable ride, show up tomorrow. (Let me know ythat you're coming, if possible.) We'll ride whatever everyone is comfortable with and I'll do the 48 mile thing, later.