Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Monday, April 26, 2010

New Blog

I decided to just start up another blog and transfer the photos from the Grinderbikes site to it. I managed to get the "Standard Builds" page transferred over, tonight. It takes a bit of time to copy each picture to my PC, then upload it to the blog.

I don't have the pictures available on my computer (the old PC is dead), and it would take a while to find all of these on my cd backups. So, I am trying to get them all copied over from the site, before it disappears (whenever that may be).

I like having them on a blog, because I can go back, later, and annotate the pictures with descriptions of the build, or memorable details of the sale. So, the posts may get edited, periodically. I'll note that on the title line, when I do it.

Anyway, the blog is now in my blog list, to the right, if you want to check it out.


The End is Nigh

I got a notice in my email, today, that the renewal is due on the Grinderbikes website hosting. I'm thinking that I'll just let it expire. At that point, the site will disappear from the internet. I guess that will make it pretty official that the business is defunct.

I had a good time building the bikes, especially at first, but the advent of cheap bike-store singlespeeds and fixed gears took away 90% of my customers.

So, now, I ride bikes instead of selling them in my spare time.

I think I'll try to figure out some way to archive the photographs, because I did build some pretty cool conversions for a lot of people. Maybe I'll upgrade my Flickr account.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Back a Day Early

We made our yearly jaunt out to the Western Slope for lab inspections, this week.  We were supposed to roll in, late tomorrow, but we busted out the inspections and made it through an 11-hour day in order to get home, tonight.

I'm a bit tired, but I thought I'd share a few snapshots from the trip:

The first two pictures are Red Mountain Pass, the next two are Molas Pass and the last is from Wolf Creek Pass.

Not too bad for a couple of days at work.


Sunday, April 18, 2010


Well, I got the three bikes built, yesterday.  I started working out in the shop at 7:30m A.M. and ended up finishing the last little details on one of the bikes at 10:00 P.M, in my living room.  Two of the bikes have gone home with their owners, and I am waiting to hear back from the third.

So, for fun today, I...built a bike.  Well, I didn't really build it all the way.  I basically just built a "proof of concept".

It started out when I put these wheels on this frame, just to be better able to store it.  I started thinking about some of the "board-track racer" style bikes on the Rat Rod Bikes gallery (it's in my blog list, to the right), and decided to see if I would want to build one up for myself.

So, I shimmed up some cruiser bars, threw on a brake and a chain, and cobbled together a motorcycle-style seat from a seatpost-mounted rack.

Custom upholstery consisting of a dirty shop towel (the only kind I have, right now) and some scrap bar tape.

EDIT:  Does this bike make me look fat?

So, I found it to be rideable.  With a bit of fine-tuning, it would even be useful for cruiser crawls and such.  For instance, a stem shorter than 150mm would certainly make the reach to the bars more manageable.  That said, it would be awesome with an electric motor installed.

Hmmm.  (Chin stroke, chin stroke...)

Now to pack for the upcoming business trip.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Progress Made

So, I got a little bit done on all three bikes, but completed none of them.  Slow and steady, that's the plan.

I also swapped handlebars on the ti bike.

I swapped my Nitto Mustache bars for cromo Nitto Albatross bars, mounted as a drop rather than a riser.

The Albatross is a bit wider than the Mustache, and has some flare at the ends.  It also, obviously, has less reach and more sweep back.  My hands end up at almost the same place, with a more relaxed wrist angle, for normal riding.  But, I also have a bit of grip area closer to me, for dropping off of ledges and negotiating steep downhill technical sections.

I think it will actually be a bit more comfortable than the Mustache, even though the Mustache was no slouch in the comfort area.  Plus, I think the inverted Albatross has a more appropriate look for the frame.

In the background is one of the bikes I am building up.  It is the Liberia 10-speed I posted on the Daily Grind, a while back.  It is becoming a flat-barred singlespeed with a basket.  Tomorrow, I will get the basket and the bmx freewheel I need to finish it up.  It is a birthday gift for the girlfriend of the fellow who bought my aborted Raleigh Clubman Replica project, last year.

So, tomorrow I buy the final parts I need for the builds, and buckle down to work.  It's all doable, as long as I keep my nose to the grindstone.

Heh, heh.. Grindstone.  get it?


Another Weekend, Another Kind of Busy

Well, every now and then I accidently overextend myself, abit.  This week is one of those occasions.  I booked a bunch of work for different people, then realized that next week is the Western Slope lab inspection trip, at work, and I'm going to be gone for 4 days.

So, I made myself a little to-do list.  I have scratched off everything but three bike builds, two of which are single-speed conversions.

Oh, well, back to work.   Wish me luck!


Monday, April 12, 2010

Busy Weekend, Part 2: Rode Hard and Put Up Wet

After the turnaround, we headed back up the hill we had previously come down at 38 miles per hour.

We were a bit slower on the way back up. It was the UnCola Hill, 38 down, 7-Up.

We passed back by a large dish array we had noticed on our way through, the first time. While it was suspiciously close to the skeletal ungulate remains that we had encountered, I never spotted any black helicopters or, alternatively, a UFO. We were only a few tens of miles from the area where cattle mutilations were reported, back in the 1980s, so we were thinking we might be in the alien zone of influence.

Brad Click, Male Model

You can see the lie of the land in front of Brad, here. The hills seemed a little steep on the first go-around, and no less so the second time we rode them. I have to admit, though, that I enjoyed this part of the ride, a lot. I am so tired of riding in and around town, that getting out into the sticks, a bit, was nice.

We rode along, back into Castlewood Canyon, discussing how to make up some of the miles that we had missed when we had to skip the loop in Larkspur. It seemed like a good idea, at the time, to hit the Mesa Loop mountain bike trail, which can be accessed from the Cherry Creek Trail just outside of Franktown.

And so, we took the dirt turn-off and headed toward the mesa. Brad had ridden the trail, once before, and figured it would be a fun detour. I had never ridden it, and was looking forward to seeing a new track.

Of course, 50 miles into a ride like this, a nice steep off-road climb is exactly what you are looking for. Jacquie Phelan says there is no shame in pushing. I hope not, because I had no real choice at this point. Brad did a bit of hoofing it, as well. I don't know if he really needed to, or if he was making me feel better. Either way, once past this little pitch, we were at the top of the mesa and riding some pretty nice singletrack.

Halfway around the loop, we stopped for a bit of scenic overlooking. The sun was hot, the wind was just picking up, and it felt a lot like summer (which made my second t-shirt a bit of a cross to bear).

The hill was a bit more fun on the way down, as they tend to be. This was my first off-road excursion on the new bike, and I am pretty happy with it. having a bike equally as at home on the dirt as the pavement, without being overly compromised on both, has long been a dream of mine.


Brad was quite pleased with the off-road capabilities of the Bleriot, and was surprised at how well the fatty Rumpkin tires acted on the dirt.  The FR tires don't look particularly off-road capable, but they grip well and absorb the surface irregularities like a much bigger tire.

Me, on the same section of trail...

After our little off-road foray, we set about racking up miles.  We knew that we would have to put on some extra paved trail miles, so we put our heads down and ground them out.  While we were at it, we talked food.  Specifically, Brad talked French Fries.  Both of us were riding toward a big plate full of salty fried potatoes for the last 25 or 30 miles of the ride.

Eventually, after riding back and forth with, seemingly, a headwind no matter which way we headed, we were approaching the truck and I called out to Brad to ride up beside me.

"Hundred mile high-five!"  I called out, as we smacked our gloved palms together.  The total, at the truck, ended up being 100.4 miles (plus about a mile we rode before I remembered to zero out my trip meter at the beginning of the ride!).

From there, we invaded a local Chili's Restaurant like the Mongol hoards sweeping across the plains.  Bacon cheeseburgers, fries (of course) and a Margarita apiece brought us back to life.  I was walking like John Wayne, since both my right achilles tendon and left knee were complaining, but I was walking proud and happy.

There's nothing quite like spending a long day on the bike, in the company of a great friend, to make a little fatigue worth it.

I dropped Brad at his house, went home and played with the dogs for a while, jumped in the shower and then fell into bed.  As I turned out the light, and fell to sleep, I couldn't help but think that I am so lucky to live a much better life than I ever thought possible.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Busy Weekend

I did a bunch of stuff today:  went for coffee, dug up and transplanted half a dozen saplings (from front yard to back), figured out a bike build for a gal, began reassembly of a mtb refurbish and met with D. Funk about the ti bike.

Yesterday, I did this:

Brad and I drove down to Parker, and took off on a ride that he had mapped out.  We wanted to get as much dirt road under our wheels as possible.  So we headed south, down the Cherry Creek Trail.

Scott Road was a lot drier than the last time I went through there, in February.

We followed the trail down to Highway 86, and then headed up the road into Castlewood Canyon State Park.

The road turns to dirt, soon after you enter the park...

and there is a bit of climbing involved.  Eventually, though, it pays off with a pretty awesome view:

 Castlewood Dam burst in 1933, and a 15 feet tall wall of water swept through Denver, causing millions of dollars in damage.  The ruins are pretty impressive.

Back on pavement, for a spell, then the road headed for the sky.

The view from the ribcage of an unfortunate deer (antelope?) in a ditch alongside the road.

Brad brought along some tasty home-made energy bars.

Properly refreshed after our stop, we continued on.  Little did we know what was ahead.

The hills began to roll, and we would coast down at 30 mph, just to crawl up the next one.  Still, the day was awesome, and the views were tremendous.  Here, Brad is taking a shot of Pike's Peak.

Rollin', rollin', rollin...

Eventually, we ended up in Larkspur, and headed north along the railroad tracks, toward a figure-eight loop on the west side of I-25.

"I swear it's on the map!"

Unfortunately, the loop appeared to be on private property, a fact that Google Maps failed to point out.  I checked with the only resident I could find:

But, he just tried to steal my pic-a-nic basket.

So, we turned around and headed back, along the railroad tracks.

Brad, on his Rivendell Bleriot, had no problem with the rugged terrain.

My new bike handled the same hill with aplomb.  Both of us were happy with the mixed-terrain performances of our bikes.

Well, that's enough for one post.  Next time:  Climbs, mountain biking, backtracking and hamburgers.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

New Saddle

I recently sold my Brooks B-15 Narrow saddle on ebay, because I prefer the wider seating area of the B-17.  With the money I got for the B-15, I ended up buying a Cardiff saddle, for about 75% of the cost of a B-17.

The leather is nice and thick, the edges are skived nicely, and the chrome rails and hardware look equal to those on a Brooks.  It even came pre-laced.

The shape and size are very similar to a B-17, and it felt pretty much like a brand-new Brooks under my butt, on the test-ride.

It looks a bit different than the Adga/Ideale hybrid mutant saddle that was on the bike, before.  Give it a few years, and it might begin to look as cool as the old French leather..

I think it looks pretty good on the bike.  It might not be a permanent application, but I put it on this particular bike to break it in.  See, I have this method for breaking in leather saddles:  I ride a bunch of miles on them.  The commuter bike gets the most mileage, so the saddle gets broken in faster on it than it would on any other bike.

I'm not sure where the mutant saddle will end up, but it won't go unused.  It's too cool to let it lie for too long.


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

29er Reconstituted

I can only imagine that Peter hates to see me coming, since I'm always robbing him to pay Paul.  Case in point:  my aluminum "Not-a-Motobecane" 29er, from which I removed the cranks, shifters, seatpost and seat to build up the new titanium bike.  It's been hanging in the rafters, since, while I tried to decide what to do with it.  Sell it?  Keep it for the future?

The other day, I realized that it would actually be pretty simple to just rebuild it with some new parts (I have two sets of 29er wheels, so the expensive part was taken care of.

The saddle came from the closeout bin over at Performance.  It's not my normal Brooks, but it's pretty comfy and should work just fine, off-road. I actually took the Bontrager seatpost out of the new bike and replaced it with a new, shorter, post.  This one is long enough to get my leg extension on the small frame, and the new one is not.

The shifters are old 7-speed Suntour Accushift Plus units, set to friction so that they will work with the Shimano cogset spacing.  I am out of decent Shimano thumb shifters.

I actually planned on buying a square-taper cartridge bottom bracket to use an old crank I had, when I found this outboard-bearing Hollowtech II crank/bb set for about $10.00 more than the older bbs are going for.  I looked up the model number, to see if the crank was worthwhile, and found them specced on $1000.00 mtbs.  It's probably not as nice as my XT version, on the other bike, but it's certainly good enough for my spare 29er.

It's still extra, but at least it's a whole, rideable bike now.  I'd rather have an extra bike rolling around than trip over a derelict frame out in the shop, all the time.

Hmmm...I have a Ti fork lying about that might be nice on this frame.


Friday, April 02, 2010

Bag Support Test

I loaded the bag up, this morning, to see how the support works.

The bag stays off of the tire nicely, even fully stuffed.  Admittedly, this was not a heavy load, being mostly clothing plus a cable lock, sketchbook and flat-fixing supplies, but I was interested in whether or not the base of the support is big enough.

I was concerned that the bag might droop down around the support frame, once it was loaded up.  But, it did not.  And, I don't think it will, even with some weight added.

Overall, I am happy with the support.  I had considered ordering a bag hoop from Rivendell, but a) it costs more than what I paid for the bag and, b) I didn't want to wait until it arrived to use the bag.  Hence, necessity mothered another invention.

So, I am all set up, in case Brad and I decide to do a long ride, this weekend.  (Wind, and some other things have kinda made us hesitant to commit to it).  And, it cost me, essentially, nothing to put together.


Thursday, April 01, 2010

Busy Day...

I had a furlough day, today, so I got a few things done.  I got my taxes done, did three weeks worth of laundry (yes, I am a bachelor), went grocery shopping, hit the thrift store and worked on my bike.

I bought a Minnehaha saddle bag, from Restoration Hardware of all places, after Myles put up a post on Rat Trap Press about them being on sale.  I had been looking for a medium-sized bag to use on the 100-mile rides, specifically on the titanium Daily Grind bike.  (That's the name Darryl is going to use for that frame.  Sorry if it gets confusing, considering that I have a blog by that name, as well.)

Unfortunately, the saddle rides low enough on that bike, at my setting, that the bag came perilously close to touching the rear tire, even unloaded.  Even though I designed the bike to accept racks and fenders, I don't really want to mount any on it, right now.  So, I needed something to hold the bag off of the tire, but I wanted it to be relatively subtle.

Here's what I came up with.

I used the stays from a an old Planet Bike front fender, and some aluminum stock I had lying around the shop.  Two bends, four drilled holes, and voila (or wallah, as I so often see it spelled on the interwebs), I had a nice little bag support.

By removing four 4mm bolts, the support can be removed in about a minute.

And, as you can see, the support under the bag is relatively unobtrusive, in use...unlike the sun's reflection off of the front rim, which I didn't even notice until I loaded the picture onto my computer.

At the thrift store, I made one of those finds that keep me going back:

Yeah, that's right:  It's a clock radio.  But, it's not just any old clock radio...

 I have a thing for the warm sound of a tube amplifier.  Like my portable phonograph (which came from the same thrift store), it sounds great.

Time to tune in the jazz station.