Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The War Wagon

As a guy who doesn't drive much, I keep my pickup truck rather than a car because I usually drive in order to haul something.  Because of that, I recently decided I wanted a bigger truck to replace my little Nissan.  Coincidentally, someone at work had just what I wanted, and had been trying (unsuccessfully) to sell it.


It's a 1993 Dodge D-150, the last year for that body style.  V-8 power, 2 wheel drive (that's why they couldn't find an easy buyer), 8-foot bed, one owner previous to whom I bought if from.  And, it has only 57,000 original miles!

I put some alloy wheels and fairly aggressively-treaded tires on it, just because I am, at heart, still a 16 year-old boy...

The body is pretty straight, with just a few little dings, but no rust.  The exhaust system is all new, including the catalytic converter that John and Beverly put on it the day before I bought it.

I love the big bench seat, and the wide-open cab.  I'm going to have to tint the windows, though, because there is lot of glass surrounding the cab, and it has cooked me as I was driving in 40-degree temps.  I don't know if the A/C will be able to combat it when the outside temperature is 95.

It's in the shop getting a new stereo, right now.  Next Spring, I will get a spray-in bedliner, then it will be pretty perfect.

Checked the gas mileage, today.  It is getting 14.9 mpg, with 75% of those miles being City Driving.  That is pretty much the same as what I get from the V-6, 4WD Nissan!

Now, I just need to sell the Nissan, and everything will be in place...


Friday, November 26, 2010

Breaking Radio Silence

Long story short:  I've had the flu, all week, and haven't been up to posting  Still don't feel real well.  More, when I feel better.

PS  I hope everyone had/is having a Happy Thanksgiving.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Could I Have Some Cheese To Go With My Whine...?

"So," you thought,"what's with the whiny post about how hard life has been for Jon, this past week?'

Well, here's a pretty good-sized piece of that puzzle:

My little house was built in 1935, and it constantly amazes me that it is still standing.  I can only think that it was originally built as a "temporary" structure, which has just survived past where its builders expected.

I've had a bit of a drip on the hot water tap in my kitchen sink, for quite a while, so I decided to fix it, last Sunday.  I had spent the previous three days sick in bed (nice timing, since I had a 4-day weekend), and just felt like I needed to do something constructive.  So, I went down to Ace Hardware and got a new core for the faucet, turned the water off under the sink, and replaced the leaky piece.  When I turned the water back on, I noticed that there a little water-hammer (air in the line compressing and rebounding as the pressure comes back on).

No big deal.  It's pretty common for that to happen if you turn the water back on with the faucet valve closed.

The faucet was no longer leaking, so I celebrated by washing some dishes.  As I washed the dishes, I noticed that I wasn't getting full flow, or pressure, on the hot water.  Could it be that I did something wrong?

I checked the faucet.  It was all put together correctly.  So, I checked the bathroom sink.  It had full flow.  But, the hot water on the tub was also running slow.  I had a sinking feeling, when I saw that.

The way the hot water is plumbed, the bathroom sink is first in line from the hot water heater, then the pipe goes under the house and tees, going to the opposite ends of the house and feeding the kitchen sink on one end, the tub on the other.  I figured that something had happened at that tee, when I saw the water-hammer occur.

I moved the couch and opened the trap door I cut into the floor, a few years ago, so that I could get under the house.  This is what I saw:

 I had a nice little artesian spring washing the soil out from under my foundation.  So, I turned the water off where it enters the hot water heater, and closed the trap door.

My theory was that the tee must have popped loose when the pipe hammered, and I knew that it was probably buried pretty deeply.  So, at 5:00 PM on a Sunday, I didn't think it was a good time to try and fix it.

The pipe is located under the floor of the bathroom (luckily not the part I re-floored).  So, I knew I'd have to cut another hole in the floor to even get to the point where I could start digging.

I spent the week heating water on the stove so that I could take a bath.  I did take a shower at work, one day, just to get the "whole-body" wash.  I was going through some pretty difficult training, at work, and didn't want to get into a project at night, when I had to get up and go to work the next morning.

Yesterday, I got the tools together and started in on it.  I cut a hole in the floor, above where the water was coming up, and started digging.

Here's an example of why I think this house was built as a temporary structure:  The floor joist is a 2x4, with the long side horizontal!  Note the 2x4 support jammed under it to hold it up.

I dug down to the pipe, following the soft wet dirt where water would surface when I turned the water on.  I finally found it, 39 inches below floor-level.  I was really disappointed to see that not only was the leak not at a joint, but it was a hole rusted into galvanized steel pipe.

Had it been copper, I could have cut it and sweated on a sleeve to fix it.  With galvanized, the only real good way to fix it is to replace it.  But, since it was 39 inches down, and probably 20 feet long, pulling the pipe out was not an option.

So, Mark and I went to the hardware store, to see what we could find to fix it.  What we came up with was a repair kit consisting of a clamp and rubber patch to cover the hole.

Bottom's up!

So, into the hole I went, supporting myself with my elbows as I tried to bolt this thing down with both hands busy.  It was...uncomfortable.

All told, I spent about an hour  upside-down, 10 or 15 minutes at a time.  Unfortunately, once the patch was in place, another (smaller) leak showed itself.  So, back to Ace Hardware, for an epoxy/tape patch kit.

After letting the epoxy set, the pipe was still leaking, slightly.

By 9:30 PM, I was done.  I had epoxied the pipe, supported that with the pipe-sealing tape, and clamped over that with two clamps.  And...I still have a tiny little (1/2-gallon/hour?) leak.
At least I can turn the water heater inlet off when I'm not using it, and turn it on to take a shower or wash dishes.  That will have to do until next weekend, when I go to Plan B...

Today, I am sore like I've been hit by a truck, and I'm covered up with scrapes and bruises from lying on the floor, draped over sharp edges with my weight bearing on spots where the skin is thin.

I'm not looking forward to the next time.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Tough Week

It's been a hard row to hoe, this week.  Between problems with mi casa, bad training at work, and odd weather on the commute, I have just not had any energy left over for blogging (or much of anything else).

There was a bit of good, along with the bad, but I am just too worn out to fully describe it.  So, I am going to bed , shortly (it's not quite 8:00 PM!) and I am going to sleep until I awake, then drink a load of coffee before dealing with the emergencies at hand.  I'll try to string together some (slightly) more coherent words, tomorrow.

Until then...


Sunday, November 14, 2010


One of the things about writing a blog that I think many people don't understand, is that most of us who do so are looking for a dialog.  It's always fun to get comments, and sometimes it's downright discouraging to put an hour into crafting a post, posting up images and editing the content into something you hope is either interesting or beneficial to the people who read it only to see no comments ever appear.

But, other times, feedback comes in other forms.  Last night, I received the following email from a fellow named Rich:

Hi Jon:
I've visited your blog a few times since I have a Raleigh Portage. I  
recently came across your Cyclofiend page about your XO-2. I had an  
opportunity to pick up a CB-Zip and since it's the predecessor of the  
XO series I considered putting moustache bars on it. But since I have  
those on my Portage already, I was looking for other ideas. Your  
description of how you used the Gary bar with the thumbshifters in  
your setup seemed like a good choice.
I have a lot of bikes and do many rides but have never loved how  
brifters are always a compromise between being on the tops, hoods and  
drops... if the tops are the right height the drops are too low to  
comfortable reach the brakes. The setup you suggested which I employed  
on my CB-Zip is great. Now I am much more comfortable staying on the  
drops all the time except when I shift. It's great.  I am an urban  
rider and the bike is like a little missile when I'm on the drops.
Thanks! I am attaching a pic of my setup (before I trimmed the brake  
I answered Rich's email, and asked him if he would mind 
me sharing it and his picture on the blog. 
He graciously gave me permission to do so, adding: "
enjoy the voice with which you 
write and find it informative and entertaining."
Thanks, Rich. And, that's a nice bike, by the way.

I pointed out to Rich that, as near as I can tell, the 1992 XO-2 seems to be the same frame and fork as the 1991 CB-0, with the addition of a mustache bar (in stock trim).  I actually picked up a CB-1 (virtually the same geometry, just a bit less expensive tubing) earlier this year to build up as a budget XO.  If I ever get it done, you will see it here, of course.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Live Music Night - November 10 Edition

Monday, as I was looking at the Bluebird Theater's site, pricing tickets for the Reverend Horton Heat show in January, I saw that The Heavy was playing on Wednesday night.  You may be familiar with their song "How You Like Me Now" from a KIA car commercial.

Anyway, the tickets were only $20.00, at the door, so I asked around at work to see if anyone wanted to go.  My new boss and his wife were game, so the three of us ended up going.

 This was the only photo I got.  Neglected to take my camera, so this is from my cell phone.

I rode the big Suzuki down to the show.  The temperature was hovering around freezing, and the windshield, hand guards and heated grips made it the most comfortable option out of all my motorbikes.  (Jason Max has my car, while he shops for a new one after the death of his old 4-Runner.  R.I.P.)

It was a great show, after the sound guys finally got the vocals loud enough on, after the first song.  I was struck by how the band (guitar, bass, drummer, sax, trumpet) were all very laid-back and calm on stage, in contrast to the energetic performance put out by the singer.  It really kept the focus on the front-man.  The guitar player is left-handed, and was playing a Telecaster Custom.  I'm partial to Telecasters, as you may know if you read my 52 Card Pickup blog.

As I was riding home, around midnight, it was spitting snow and the temp had fallen into the upper-20s.  If it hadn't been so late, and if I hadn't been starting to feel the symptoms of the head-cold I'm dealing with now, I might have taken a longer ride.  It was actually kind of nice to cruise through the cold on the motorbike.

I have to thank Doohickey, over at the Mixte Gallery, for turning me on to this band.  On his other blog, Doohickey highlighted an appearance by The Heavy on the Letterman Show, a few months back, which prompted me to buy their new CD.  If you ever get a chance to see them, take it.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

First Snowy Commute of the Season

Fifty three degrees, when I left the house this morning.  That turned out to be the high temp for the day.  By 1:30 PM, it was raining, and the rain turned to snow about an hour before I left the lab.

I had a nice ride home, with big wet flakes falling but melting as soon as they hit the warm pavement.  I had forgotten, though, just what an adventure it is to ride a freewheeling bike with rim brakes in freezing precipitation.

There shouldn't be any snow on the roads, tomorrow morning, but the temperature is supposed to drop to 23 degrees, tonight. Might be a bit icy, in spots.  So, I pulled the winter commuter out and got it ready to ride.  Fixed gear and disc brakes...should be a little more controllable than the RockCombo was, this afternoon.


Saturday, November 06, 2010


Whichever of my bikes I am riding at the time seems to be my favorite, pushbike or motorbike.  But, when it comes right down to it, I seem to get the biggest grins from these two:

Oldschool, a little creaky, a bit worn around the edges...hmmmm.


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Traffic Talk

On the way home from work, I was riding along when a Chrysler 600 sedan went by.  The passenger rolled down his window and said, "Mrummph blump lala," as the car passed.  At least, that's what it sounded like, but that's what it always sounds like when people in passing cars say things to you.

I wonder if they actually think you can understand them, as they go by at 2 to 3 times your speed.

Anyway, I caught up to the car at the intersection with MLK Jr. Boulevard, and rode up beside the passenger window.  The dark tinted window was up, but I could still see the look of surprise on the young gentleman's face.

I know that people in cars rarely expect to see you again after making their passing remarks.

I motioned for him to roll the window down, and he rolled it about halfway.

"I'm sorry," I said, "I missed what you said, back there."

"Oh,", he said.  I think he was surprised by my polite tone.  "I said that there's no bike lane on this street."

"Actually, every street is  a bike lane,"  I explained.  "We get a lane, just like a car."

"That ain't no car.  You get run over, you're gonna know it."  Still very polite.

"Yeah, and if an 18-wheeler runs over your car, you're gonna know it.  Does that mean only 18-wheelers should drive on the street?"

That was apparently enough conversation for the young man.  "Oh, shut up!" he said, sounding more exasperated than angry.  Then, he rolled up his window.

I rode on past them, and the car that they were behind (which was waiting to turn left), crossed MLK and continued on my way.  About halfway down the block, the car passed me again.

I smiled and waved.  I couldn't tell if they waved back, or not, because of the tinted windows.  At the end of the block, they pulled over and parked.  I rode on by, smiled and waved again, and continued my ride home from work.

I cherish these little talks...


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Nice Ride, Long Drive

On Saturday, Brad and I met at the house, then headed for Kaladi Brothers on the bicycles.

I took the XO2 and Brad was on his Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen.

After coffee and scone (me) and breakfast burrito (Brad), we took off to ride the gravel part of the Highline Canal, then looping around to the South Platte Greenway to come back north.  After zig-zagging through the neighborhoods , and hitting the the paved trail along Colorado Boulevard, we got to the Highline.

We took a short break to shed some layers, as the temperature was quickly climbing.  It was around 45 degrees when we left my house, and we ended up riding most of the day in the high-60s to mid-70s.

The last time I rode this stretch of trail, a couple of years ago, it was mostly snow-packed and icy.  Saturday's conditions were a bit nicer.

Brad and I engaged in a short camera duel.  He had just taken a picture of me, over his shoulder, when I passed him and got this shot.

It was nice down here, in Denver, but check the fresh snow on the mountains...

We rode at a pretty good pace, all the way down to the C-470 Trail, where we turned west and headed to the South Platte.  On the way north, along the river, the wind kicked up.  And, for once, it was a nice tailwind.  At one point, we dropped the hammer and  busted out a 30mph sprint for about a half-mile.

After that effort, it seemed like a good idea to stop off at Kaladi, yet again, and grab an Eye-talion Soda.

Door-to-door distance was decent, but the ride just couldn't be beat.  It's not every year that you get to ride in shirtsleeves on the last weekend of October.

Sunday morning, I followed Brad up north to Wiggins, Colorado.

I was dragging a trailer behind the truck...
 Brad was in his MGB (going by so fast I couldn't capture all of him with the camera).

We went to the middle of nowhere, and swapped the car for this:

Now, both Brad and Randy have Stella scooters with sidecars.  I'm feeling a bit left out.

But, since I prefer to ride in the sidehack, rather than drive a scooter, I don't particularly need one of my own...

The scooter was about 85 miles from my house, so I did a lot more driving that day than I usually do in a week!  It was for a good cause, though.