Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Five Hundred

As I said in my last post, today has some personal significance for me.

Today makes 500 days in a row that I have commuted by bike. I have not driven to work in 2-1/2 years, and that adds up to 8653 miles not driven.

As some of you know, this all started out as a challenge, to myself, to ride to work every day in May of 2007. That went by so easily that I extended the challenge through June, then further extended it to span a whole year.

After that year went by, I shot for 500 work days. I like to keep the goals attainable, but significant. Merely planning to never drive to work, ever, sets you up for failure. Conversely, challenging yourself on a weekly basis loses its meaning, after a short while.

My new challenge is to increase my mileage to 10,000 miles of consecutive bicycle commuting. That should take about 6 more months, if everything goes as normal.

This goal provides incentive for riding during this upcoming winter.

I'll decide on my next goal, as I approach the target mileage.

Wish me luck.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On The Significance of A Warm, Sunny Afternoon Following On the Heels of Some Cool, Damp Days.

Specifically, it seems to bring out the bikes.

The past three days, my bike count on the way home has hovered in the 4 to 6 range. The weather was coolish, and overcast for the most part, with a chill wind from the north (thankfully, a tailwind for me).

Today, in exchange for pushing a headwind home, I got to enjoy temperatures in the mid-80s and nice bright sunshine. I also counted 23 bikes between the lab and my house. I sense a connection.

I'm intuitive, that way.

Tomorrow promises to have another, more personal, significance. More about that...then.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Sleepy Ride In, Today

One of the fringe benefits of riding to work is that you arrive awake and alert.


Today, as has been the case all week, it was cool and damp as I rode in (and dark, of course). I did have the added attraction of thunder and lightning, but the rain had moved on through.

I was a bit sluggish on the bike, right out of the gate, but that's normal. What wasn't normal was that, upon arrival at the lab, after 35 minutes of riding, I was still yawning and having trouble keeping the old eyelids open.

I think I'll get a recumbent bike so that I can nap on the way in!


Monday, September 21, 2009

Autumn Starts, Tomorrow

...feels like Winter, today.

It's 40 degrees (F) cooler right now, in Denver, than it was at this time yesterday. I rode to work in temps somewhere around 45 degrees, with rain and a 20 mph headwind, as a cold front marched through.

The ride home was in the low 40s, but at least it was dry and I had a tailwind. That put me in a good mood.

That, and the fact that my AMRL inspection went off without a hitch, today.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Bikes

A friend dropped by, this morning, and we decided to ride over to Pete's, on Pearl and Alameda, for breakfast. They weren't open, yet, so we ended up wandering over to Lucille's. (I can't get the photo to rotate. Sorry.)

This was the napkin I got.

We parked with a few other bikes. I rode the new Monster Cross. It's almost good to go; a couple of small adjustments, and it'll rock. I think I'll keep it, and see if I can't get someone to buy the Orange Bike, by lowering the price a bit.

Another red and black motorbike.

Dad and two girls rolling in for breakfast.

The scooterati were also out, today.

More scooters showed up. When the green one rolled in, I went over to talk to the guy about the paint job. It was done by "some guy in Littleton." I thought it was odd that the guy didn't know the name of his painter.

A close-up of the green ghost flames on the Vespa.

I ended up having shrimp and grits, with Cajun Sausage, and a huge hunk of biscuit. Darn good eats. Coffee was good, too.

Spent the rest of the day working on a bike for the eldest nephew. More on that, later.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

More Red and Black

As you might have figured, from my last post, I like the red and black color combination. I had originally planned on just painting this bike black, but I added the red last night (in the dark) when I went out to check on how the rattlecan paint job was drying. I have to admit, I am not real proud of the paint quality. It's one thing to do a bad paint job on purpose, and quite another when a paint job just turns out less than perfect, despite your best efforts.

Now, to my credit, this is what this bike looked like when Brad found it, and later traded it for my Bridgestone MB3 frame. The paint was chipped and scratched, and the decals were pretty ratty. So, as I began to build it up, I decided to paint it.

Once again, I converted the old mountain bike to 700c wheels. I had a rear wheel (nice, high-end Specialized hub with a Mavic CXP33 rim) which I had gotten for $10.00 at a yard sale. I replaced a broken spoke, and it was good to go.

The front is the orphaned mate to the rear wheel on my commuter. I replaced the solid axle with the hollow axle and quick-release from an old XT front hub. That gave me a set of QR wheels.

On those wheels, I mounted a pair of Maxxis WormDrive 700x42c cyclocross tires. Monstercross, baby! Seeing these brand-new tires lying about, unused and loved, prompted this build.

It's funny how, occasionally, I look at all the loose parts lying around in the bike shop, and realize I have a bike there, just in the exploded-view.

The bike ended up with a steel cyclocross fork I bought for an abandoned project, a threaded Tange Levin headset (converted for use on a threadless fork), 1997 XT V-Brakes, a mismatched pair (one Avid, one Forte') of v-brake levers, 7-speed Deore thumb shifters, 7-speed LX cassette, Origin8 Gary Bars, my trusty old BOA stem which has been on and off of a half-dozen bikes in the last 12 or 13 years, a Shimano Deerhead front derailleur, a 200GS rear derailleur, some random old Shimano cartridge bottom bracket and mtb crank (from the Performance Bicycle dumpster, found while I was getting packing material to ship a bike), Brooks Professional seat, and a metric butt-load of headset spacers.

EDIT: I used the brake adaptors I made for the Stumpjumper, on the rear brakes, so that the pads would hit the rim. See the Comments section for more info.

As usual, with these 700c RockHopper conversions, it rides great. Now, I have to decide if I'm keeping this one, or the Ghetto bike. I want one or the other, but I just don't need both.

I ended up buying cables, housing and a chain. I need some decent pedals for it, but I can transfer some from an unused bike, for the time being. Then, I'll just wait until something falls from the sky (like the rest of the bike).


Saturday Morning Bikes

Here are a few bikes (motorbikes and pushbikes) which I saw while out for coffee, this morning.

This Honda 4-cylinder Rat Bike lives just on the other side of Colorado Blvd. I've stopped and looked at it a few times, on the way by, but never had my camera with me...until today.

I love flat-black motorbikes. And, the red wheels really set this one off.

The Ducati MultiStrada is a nice bike. Brad had one, when they first came out. Again, the red and (glossy) black go well, together.

I see this bike a lot at Kaladi Bros. Pretty typical "urban mtb".

Surly Long Haul Trucker. Also a regular at the coffee shop.

Hey, who let that thing park here?! (My new kickstand.)

Nice, older, upper-end Panasonic . First time I've ever seen this one.

I built this bike up for one of the regulars, a couple of years ago. The bars were originally inverted, but Tom decided there was too much drop and flipped them. I like it, either way. The rear fender is from an old cruiser, and the front is one I found in the street on the way home from work, one day.

A new(ish) Globe with Euro child-seat.

Another Kaladi Brothers regular. I dig the bars and upside-down shifters.

I love the number and variety of bikes I see in my neighborhood.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sweet Hitch Hiker

This little guy hitched a ride on my sleeve, this afternoon. He's about a 3/4 of an inch long, and colored black and yellow. He really looked like a wasp of some sort, but he lacked the papery wings.

I stopped and took some crappy cell-phone pictures (of which, this is the best one), and continued on. He stayed with me for about a mile and a half.

I'm always glad to help out.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Conflicted About the Weather

For my whole life, I really haven't enjoyed autumn. I know that I've mentioned this before, here on the blog. I always just see the onset of Winter, the death of Summer. Give me Spring, any time.

That said, I have really been enjoying the Fall weather, this last little bit. The mornings are crisp, and I leave the house over an hour before the sun peeks up over the eastern plains, washing the mountains with pink, then gold.

I roll through cool, moist air, getting chilled by the water-cooled air as I cross Cherry Creek and then open up my shirt on the climb up to Alameda. Foxes cross the road, in a hurry to go forward, but looking over their shoulders at me as they run.

In the afternoons, the sun warms me when I stop at intersections, but I am cool, almost chilly, as I roll. I've even been enjoying afternoon tailwinds, a sign of cool winter air moving down from Canada.

But, the grass is still green, and the trees still have leaves. The sky is that particular blue that you only see as the sun is moving a bit south, but hasn't quite gotten as low on the horizon as it does during the cold bleak of Winter. Even though I know that Winter is coming, I can't mourn the passing of Summer as long as the weather is so accommodating.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tour de Fat 2009 - Denver Edition

Yesterday, Brad and I met at Kaladi Bros. and had a couple of gallons of coffee, as usual. Then, we jumped on our bikes and headed for City Park, to partake in the Tour de Fat festivities.

As we rode to ward the park, we saw the Bike Parade on a parallel street, a couple of blocks away. So, we rode over and joined in with the crowd.

Somewhere, there is a picture of me taking this picture.

It's an interesting crowd to ride amongst.

I liked her chopper, with the alloy "mag wheel" on front.

All kinds of bikes show up.

Old-man panda shot.

It was a bit chilly, in stark contrast to last year's event when the temps were in the high 90's and the sun was beating me like a hammer.

This little guy was surrounded by papparazi. Didn't seem to faze him, though.

Brad's better two-thirds joined us, at the event.

Captain America!

Can you hear me now?

I just missed a picture of him popping a wheelie.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Standing On Its Own Two Legs

Myles, over at Rat Trap Press, has a cool photo of his Long Haul Trucker (since sold) as his header photo. In the photo, the bike is sitting on a two-legged kickstand. For some reason, this has appealed to me since I first saw it.

So, when I got the rack and fenders on the red bike, I decided to also install one of those kickstands. I had sold something or another on eBay, and had the necessary funds in my PayPal account, so I ordered one up.

When deployed, the two legs hold the bike upright. This is a lot more stable than a normal kickstand arrangement.

When folded up, both legs sit side-by-side on the non-drive side, where the single leg of a standard kickstand would be. It's pretty slick, for something that many people consider quite dorky.

Ah, well. I've always been pretty much a dork, anyway.

Too bad the thing weighs about as much as the bike. Seriously, it's pretty heavy. But, if I was concerned with weight on this bike, it wouldn't be sporting rack and fenders, much less big-ole BMX pedals. The emphasis of this bike is on utility.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009


I was on furlough, today, along with most other State Employees in Colorado. So, I decided to test out the second version of my motorcycle-mounted bicycle carrier. I had decided I didn't like the first version, so I started from scratch, on Sunday, and built a completely different version.

I left the house a little after 7:00 A.M., and headed for Mt. Falcon.

By 7:45, I was in the parking lot at the East Trailhead. The motorcycle handled fine, with the load, and the bike never shifted on the rack. I'm pretty satisfied with this version. For one thing, once the bike is off, you can swing the rack in so that it no longer sticks out to the side.

Between five and ten minutes after I started removing the bike from the rack, it was ready to ride.

Forty one minutes after that, I was at the picnic shelter at the top of the trail. I love the view of the valley, from there.

I rode back down, and loaded up, then headed to the coffee shop. As I pulled up, Brad was walking in, with Noella.

"Man, if I had to rely on that to go mountain biking, I'd never go again," he said, looking at the rig.

Me, too, probably. But, I built this up for out-of-town, multi-day trips on which I will ride to a campsite, unload the bike, and ride for a few days before loading it back up. It is a bit inconvenient for short hops like Mt. Falcon or Apex.


Friday, September 04, 2009

A Day Spent On the Bike and Another Night Ride (With Bonus Zombies!)

The view from the cockpit.

Got up, this early morn, and showered the work week off. Once the steam had cleared and I was dressed, I hightailed it down to the coffee shop for my three big cups and a scone. After about three hours of sittin' and sippin' and visitin' with the various cronies and caffeine fiends who slunk into the shop in search of their morning eye-opener, I rode back home.

Once there, I spent a couple of hours playing the guitar out in the front yard (the neighbors love me), knocking around with the dogs and just generally having a nice summer day. Eventually, I rode up to Pete's (the one on Colfax, not the one close to my house on University. Remember that, for later.). There, I chowed down on the Breakfast Burrito Supreme, drowned in green chili, with two sunnyside-up eggs on top. Approximately 9000 calories of salty, fatty goodness!

After I got home from Pete's, I decided to dip the brake levers on the red bike in PlastiCote. The spray paint on the right lever (which you may recall has been rebuilt from JB Weld) was rubbing off due to the friction of my gloves. So, I figured the PlastiCote would cover that up, and give me the finger-friendly non-slip grip that I crave.

Of course, I couldn't take the levers off of the bike to dip them, so I laid the bike across the arms of a lawn chair and pushed the PlastiCote can onto the levers, rather than dipping the levers in. It was awkward, but it worked. Two coats, appled thirty minutes apart, covered pretty well.

Squint your eyes, and use your imagination, and maybe you'll see the dome of the Capital Building.

I had sent out an email, yesterday, to 11 people, here in Denver, inviting them on a night ride at 9:00, tonight. Everyone who responded, did so to tell me that they couldn't make it (I guess I'm the only loser, in town, with no plans on a Friday night). Three or four didn't even do that. Oh. well...solo ride.

I actually left the house at about 8:00, because I wanted to check out the First Friday Artwalk, on Pearl Street (the stretch just south of the Interstate, where the Sushi Den is). Unfortunately, nothing much was going on. I saw one art gallery which appeared to be open. Every other store and gallery was dark. So, I just rode on through and headed north.

I thought I might just ride up to the Capital, and see what was happening. On the way, at Pearl and Alameda, I passed yet another Pete's restaurant. I'll have to eat at that one, next time I want a big gut-buster breakfast.

Eventually, I found myself on Sherman, at 11th, taking the picture above. I hope that the dome shows up when you click the picture to embiggen it. It looked pretty cool in person, anyway.

As I approached the Capital, I began to hear music. Oh yeah, The Taste of Colorado food orgy is going on in the City Park area. I figured I'd check it out. After about 30 minutes of riding around the perimeter of the festival, and being told by three different festival staff people that there was no bike parking provided, I finally found the Bike Denver bike corral, and checked the red bike in.

The "non-existant" bike corral.

The City and County Building, lit in a weird blue, Maybe aliens had taken over.

Flesh-eating zombies, shambling through the festival, moaning their plaintive "Tuuurkey Wiiiiings" as they searched for more greasy weird food to stuff into their undead mouths.

I wandered around, a bit, giving the shuffling hoard ample opportunity to bump into me, step on my feet and ram me with baby strollers. Good times.

I had a five-dollar glass of instant lemonade, and got the hell out of Dodge.

Moon Over Mi Casa

I wandered my way back home, and actually had a fox cross the road as I went by, a couple of blocks west of Washington Park. I tried to get a picture, but he did the Cheshire Cat thing on me right when I got the camera out.

I rolled back to the house at about 10:30, and let the dogs in. In 14-1/2 hours, I took three separate rides, drank a bunch of coffee, ate some good food, and played with my bikes and guitar. And, I attended the Feast of The Living Dead, and escaped with my brain intact (though I may have misplaced my mind).

Not a too shabby of a day.

By the way, Brad posted up a couple of things I scribbled out for the Association Of Caffeinated Wheelmen blog. Give it a click and a read, why don'cha?


New Wall Hanging

My parents recently took a little vacation trip up into Western Kentucky, where we lived 40 years ago. While in Paducah, they found this cool bicycle wall hanging. I put it in the bike corner of the Grinder Gallery. I think it looks cool there.

Thanks, M & D!


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

L'EROICA USA Cancelled

Just went to to register, only to see that the event had been cancelled.

While nowhere near as great in scope as the original, L'Eroica-USA was something I was really looking forward to. A classically run race, on vintage bikes with vintage clothing, over mostly gravel roads really appealed to me.

I even had plans to get my Raphael Giminiani on the road for this.

Maybe we should just get together and do our own version. Anybody up for that?