Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend - So Far

While I didn't have a trip planned for this weekend, I knew that I would be far from just sitting around, bored.  I didn't want to do any big bike rides, since I am still recovering from last week's debacle, so I planned on doing some chores around the house.  Two years ago, I built the fence around the back yard so that Oswald could come to live with us.  This year, I worked on the bathroom.

I  pulled the linoleum flooring up, then removed the concrete backer board that the previous owner had laid down instead of plywood.  Then, I removed what plywood was under that (which wasn't even attached to anything), repaired a broken floor joist, added some cross-bracing, and screwed the plywood down.  On top of that, I fitted a single piece of 3/4" Marine Grade ply, cut to fit the countours of the room and tub, then screwed it down to the underlying surface.

I fitted a new wax seal to the toilet, reinstalled it loosely (to make sure my plywood wasn't so thick that the toilet wouldn't seal), then laid down some bamboo-finish laminate flooring.  It comes in 36"x4" pieces, and they adhere to each other with a tongue and groove style attachment.

Now, the floor doesn't bounce like a trampoline when you walk in, and the toilet no longer rocks from side to side.

I also turned this:

into this:

through the magic of Craigslist.  I put the big amp on Craigslist with a price of $150/or trade for vintage Japanese guitar.  Obviously, I made the trade.  My thinking is that, if I don't use the guitar, they are easier to sell (for more money) on eBay, since they are easily shipped.  (For more details on the guitar, check out the 52 Card Pickup blog, in the next day or two.  I will be doing a more detailed post about it, there.)

I also sold the Yamaha XS-650 to Mark.  The two or three of you who have read the blog since I started it may remember that I originally started blogging about the XS-650 project in 2006.  I had it rideable, and used it to teach Tyler Max how to ride a motorbike, then it sat for quite some time.  I had big plans for it but could never quite get it finished.  I ended up selling the Streetracker tailpiece off of it, and it sat for a year, or so, in the storage building.

I threw in a bunch of spare parts, including this "Mad Max"-style seat/tailpiece.  I hope that Mark gets it in good shape, and enjoys it.  I had one of these for about ten years, and really enjoyed riding it.  i just don't have the energy to keep it going, in addition to the Trident and the Suzuki.

This afternoon, I installed high-rise bars and new cables on Tony Gallagher's 3-speed Schwinn Collegiate.  Along with the banana seat, the bars really make the bike feel like an adult-sized StingRay.  Unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture of it.

Tonight, I sat in the backyard and had a little fire in the firepit.

Temperatures in the low 60s, clear skies and a nice hot fire make for a nice evening.

So far, it's been a nice a weekend.


Monday, May 24, 2010


Myles, over at Rat trap Press, just posted about a 1988 Panasonic ATB frame he picked up.  He has plans to build a touring bike from it.

Coincidentally, my buddy Mark scored a Panasonic ATB for me, just last week.  I had hoped to build it up for Mike, at work, but he wasn't taken with the color. (I built the DiamondBack Cruiser for his wife, recently.)

I sorta like the purple, myself.  For some reason, it is a color I associate with Panasonic bikes, both ATBs and Road.

The lug work is pretty nice...

and it is "An International Bicycle Brand", after all.

And, I really like the graceful, curved fork with skinny, road-bike-like, legs.  This is one of my favorite things about the XO-2, also.  I think that the bigger fork legs on the RockCombo make it look much more "mountain-bike-like", if that makes sense.

I gave $35.00 for the entire bike, so I should be able to build something up which I can sell at a reasonable price, without coming out in the red.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Evil, Evil Wind!

I was very excited about the ride I had planned, but I knew that it was going to be physically exhausting.  So, I made sure to get to bed early, Friday night, and made myself a nice breakfast when I got up.

I know it looks a bit strange, but shell pasta with two sunny-side-up Jumbo eggs mixed in was actually quite tasty.  Carbs, protein and good flavor, all rolled into one!

At 7:00 AM I was ready to roll.  I took this picture in the front yard, just before heading out.  Temps were in the low 60s, and the sun was shining.  Except for the breeziness in the front yard, it seemed like the perfect day for a ride.

I stopped off at Kaladi Brothers for a cuppa Joe on the way out.  I'm such a caffeine addict, I know better than to start a long ride without a bit of coffee. 

As I left the coffee shop, I should have taken heed of the wind and just turned around to go home.  Forty miles per hour, out of the South (straight into my face), with gusts over 50 mph are not conditions that lead to good century rides.  Check out the whitecaps on the little pond alongside the Platte River  Greenway trail.

Eight miles per hour was about my average speed along the trail.  I sometimes was able to punch it up to 11 or 12 mph.  Other times, I was actually below five.  The gusts of wind would hit like a hammer, and nearly halt me, at times.

Chatfield Lake looked like the North Atlantic.  Notice the incline of the road.  Once I got on it, I was having so much trouble riding down the hill, that I decided to try an experiment.  I turned around, pushed off with my foot, and coasted up the hill at 12.5 mph!

I should have just coasted on home, but I really wanted to go on this ride.  Not only was this the first time I had put the fat tires and clipless pedals on the ti bike, but I haven't over the hill to the South Platte since last year.

I finally got to the Waterton Canyon gate after two and a half hours, a ride which usually takes me about an hour and 20 minutes (21 miles).  I was already tired, and hadn't even gotten to the first climb of the day.  Still, I soldiered on.  I stopped here, about 26 miles into the ride, to eat a peanutbutter and raisin sandwich.

I had caught up to a guy, in Chatfield Park, who was turning around to go home.  I told him I was attempting a 100-mile ride, so he pulled this sandwich out of his bag and gave it to me.  That was the sandwich I was eating as this runner went by.

Thanks, Bob, wherever you are.  It was delicious.

I love riding the canyon.  This is another view from the picnic shelter where I ate Bob's sandwich.

My water bottle and I continued up the canyon.  From the entrance, you follow a dirt road along an old railroad grade for 6.2 miles, then... reach Strontia Springs Dam.  I stopped for the photo-op and then continued on.  Time was slipping away, and I was about to start the first climb of the day.  From this point, the road turns sharply upward and, after about 3/8 of a mile, you turn off on another (steeper) little road which dead-ends at the actual trailhead to the Colorado Trail.  Then, you are on singletrack hiking/biking trail.

The angle on this picture makes it look like the bike is pointing downhill.  In reality, that is about a 25% slope uphill, covered with loose rock.  This was but one of the many sections that I hike-a-biked up.

The weather forecast called for mostly cloudy skies.  This was about as cloudy as it got.  My arms feel like burned-out matchsticks, today.

I don't know what the significance of this marker is.  It is way into the woods, across a creek from the trail.  I wonder if the bones (Elk?) are associated with it, or if they were added by someone, later.

I stopped for lunch, around noon, about halfway between the canyon and the river.  I had hoped to eat lunch at the river.  Again, this would have been a good opportunity to turn around, but I was on a mission.

I love the section of trail where you are on the ridge above the river (but still 5 miles away from it), and you start getting views like this through the trees.

Another of my favorite scenic spots.  The brown section across the valley is a burn scar from the Hayman Fire in 2002.  When we have fires, out here, we have fires.

Finally at the river, at 1:45, I took this picture of the elevation profile of the trail I had just ridden.  If you enlarge this, you can see that I started at about 5500 ft., climbed to 7800 ft., then dropped down to 6100ft. in the last 3.25 miles.  I was at the approximately 15 mile mark on the profile.

At this point, I realized that my original plan to continue west on the Colorado Trail was out of the question.  At the speed I was able to average on the singletrack, I would not be back to the river before 7:30 if I rode the 13 miles I needed to reach 50 miles out.

So, after some thought, I headed south (again, against that evil, evil wind), toward Deckers where I knew there was a restaurant at which I could get a Coke.  For some reason, at this point, all I could think of was an icy cold Coca Cola ( a drink I generally despise, due to all the sugar), and I just had to have one.

Deckers was 15.5 miles from where I was, which meant that my ride was increasing by 5 miles on the round trip.  Seemed worth it to get a Coke, so I pushed out against the wind.  Again, I was only able to manage 8 or 9 mph.

At least the scenery is pretty good, around the river.  I've ridden through here on my motorcycle a few times, and I've driven though on occasion, but this was my first occasion to ride a bicycle down the gravel road.

Looking back behind me, I could see the hill I would be climbing in order to get home.  A mile, or so, south of this point the road was paved.  I slogged along against the gale-force winds for over two hours and, finally, reached my Coca Cola (and, incidentally, Deckers).

I filled my CamelBak with water from the bathroom faucet, drank my big icy Coke, and filled my empty water bottle with Gatorade Thirst Quencher, then headed north.

The trip back to the trail took 42 minutes, with the wind behind me.

I sat on the rail at the trailhead parking lot, took my shoes off, and drank some of my Gatorade.  I had eaten half of my ham sandwich in Deckers and, when I went to get the other half out of my bag it wasn't there.  I had a pb&j sandwich, trail mix, some Clif bars and an apple, but I was crushed that my ham was gone.  Looking back, I can see that I was beginning to lose some mental acuity due to the dreaded condition we refer to as "bonk".

I talked with a young guy who was trying to get cell service to call for a ride.  He had ridden over from Waterton, and didn't have it in him to even start back up that 3-mile-plus climb to get home.  I put my shoes on, and headed uphill, wondering if I was going to make it, myself.

The next 10 miles of singletrack were something of a blur.  I climbed that first huge hill, and my legs were done.  My stomach was rebelling, and I couldn't eat anything I had with me, so I began pushing the bike up even the small inclines, and only riding the "flats" and descents.

At 7:00 pm, 12 hours after leaving the house, I was at the top of the hill which leads down into the canyon.  I was so relieved to be back in the Denver area, I almost cried.  I started down the hill, and rode a nice steady pace down the switchbacks, until I hit the road through the canyon. 

I passed the dam at about 25 mph (downhill, with the wind at my back), and they were releasing water through the pipes.  That cools the air in the immediate area by about 25 degrees, and the cool moist air cleared my head a little bit.  I think I might have actually smiled.

About 4 miles down the canyon, I caught up to an emaciated little fox who was trotting down the road.  Oddly, he didn't run away when he saw me, but ran in circles until I was beside him, then turned toward me.  I was still moving at about 20 mph, and I didn't slow down until I reached a guy and gal hiking toward me.  I warned them of the fox's odd behavior (we just had two people bitten by a rabid fox in Denver, this week), and they decided to turn around.

I finally reached the parking lot at the end of the canyon at 7:25 pm.  I still had 21 miles to go, but, at tleast, the wind would be with me. 

I called Carol, to tell her I was still alive.  She worries when I am out of cellphone range all day, on these rides.  As I talked to her, she asked if I wanted her to pick me up.  She was only about 5 miles away, leaving the field where Colin had just played ball.  I assured her that I was able to get home, on my own.

As I spoke with her, my stomach hurt more and more.  Finally, I realized that I would not make it home if I tried to ride it out, tailwind or no tailwind.  So, at mile 84, 12 and ahalf hours in, I did the unimaginable and pulled the plug on the ride.

Carol drove down to the canyon to pick me up, and took this picture of me when she got there:

I believe the expression on my face tells the rest of the story.  We went to Outback Steakhouse and met Leigh and Colin for dinner, where I ate a big chunk of meat and a baked potato.  Then, Carol drove me home and I finally let the dogs in at 10:15.

This morning, I rode over to the coffee shop for a cuppa and a scone.  The first tenth of a mile was excruciating, but the legs loosened up on the way. 

Yesterday's failed 100-miler was, without a doubt, the hardest ride I have done in at least 15 years, if not ever.  So, even though I didn't reach the 100-mile mark, I can't be totally disappointed.  I gave it my all and, under the conditions, I'm almost proud of the ride.

Next time, hopefully, the wind won't be so evil and I will actually complete the 100 miles.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Upcoming Rides and Random Stuff

Two weeks from this Friday, on June 4th, is the 24 Hours of E-Rock race.  Randy has agreed to babysit me be my night-time camp chief again, this year.  I am really looking forward to it.  I plan to ride the titanium Funk bike, and have my old 29er (now a 650b) in reserve.

I decided to assign this bike to 650b duty, the other day, as I was exploring some options on the ti bike.  I'll explain more, this weekend, when I plan to finally do a good write-up/review about that bike.

I figure I'll probably be in the mood to do a bit of sitting and writing, on Sunday, after the 100-mile ride I have planned for Saturday.  If that ride doesn't kill me, it should be pretty fun.  It's a route I've been looking forward to since I decided to do the 12-Centuries-in-a-year thing.  The weather forecast for this weekend finally looks like it will work out (85 degrees and mostly sunny).

More, later.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bit Of An Odd Day

We knew it was coming, but it was still odd to wake up, in the middle of May, to this:

Snow...on May 12.  A bit late in the season, at this elevation.

I mean:  Come on!  The lilacs are already bloomed out, for goodness' sake!

Then, when I got home, for some inexplicable reason, I felt the need to swap out to a titanium fork and Salsa Woodchipper bar on the old 29er, before I even unlocked the front door to the house.

Yep.  It was just kind of an odd day, altogether.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

So, What's With All The Blogs, Anyway?

I was just talking to someone about blogs, when I realized that I have six of them going, five of which are updated regularly.  But, why have so many?  Why not just put everything in one place?

Well, just like different magazines tend to specialize in content, I find that it makes more sense to split content from different areas of my life into different blogs.  People who read this blog for the bike stuff may not care, at all, about my art and vice versa.

So, what are these blogs, and what do they contain?

Two Wheels:  I consider this my main blog.  It tends to be a report of my day to day activities with the bikes, the motorcycles, trips, the house, etc.  Kinda like a letter home, in a way.

52 Card Pickup:  Art and music are passions of mine which rival the two-wheeled passions.  Look here for updates on art including (but not limited to) paintings, sculptures, comix, and music.  There is going to be a lot of music news, for the next few months.

HRJG:  "Hard-Rocking Jonny G" is a nickname that Randy Caley assigned me, a few years ago.  I find that, on my other blogs, I tend to write in a dry, newspaper-reporter-like style which sometimes seems a bit boring, to me.  I use HRJG to let the language flow, usually reporting on something which has been covered on one of the other blogs but in the style of the Beats.  It is the writing equivalent of ice cream, for me.  It's a treat to loosen up and let the words fly.

The Daily Grind:  This blog pretty much takes the place of the Grinderbikes website, which should disappear soon.  I am not really concentrating on the business end of bike-building, any more, but this allows me to keep a presence on the web, so to speak.  Watch it for bikes and parts I am selling/have sold. 

Grinderbikes Photo Archive Blog:  Pretty self-explanatory.  I don't want the picture galleries to disappear from the internet when the website goes away, so I am archiving them on this blog.  I will also be labeling the pictures and adding descriptions/facts about the builds so that it is not just a collection of random photos.

Pix X 366:  In 2008 I did a project for which I drew a picture every day.  '08 was a Leap Year, so there were 366 pictures.  Obviously, this project is complete, so I don't update the blog.  I do go back and look at the pictures, occasionally, and remember where I was, why I chose that subject, etc.  I like seeing other people's sketchbook sites, and I hope the occasional visitor who stumbles upon it appreciates mine.

Who knows, I may start another blog, or three, before it's over.  I enjoy blogging, a lot, and I always hope people enjoy reading them.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Archive Site

Check out the Grinderbikes Photo Archive (it's in the blog list, to the right).  I loaded the rest of the photos from the Grinderbikes website, which should disappear in about a week.

I will work on some descriptions and anecdotes about some of the builds, as time goes by.


Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day Cruiser

Sometimes I sell a bike, and I have a hard time getting started on building it.  This was one of those bikes.  First, I put it off in order to go to Fruita.  Then, I was tired from the Fruita trip, all week, and I managed to never start the build until yesterday, even though I planned to every night last week.

 Plus, I knew it was going to be a challenging build.  The Voyager II frameset is a mountain bike frameset, even though it harkens back to the curvy cruisers of old.  It lacked the upper mounting point for the rear fender; the clearance between the seatstays was tight; I was working in a budget that precluded fixing problems with fit by buying different parts; I had to make what I had work.  That always adds up to extra time and effort on a bike build.

But, I always enjoy these builds and I am always proud of the results.

I spent a total of about 7 hours working on the bike.  I ended up buying a new saddle for it, because I just didn't like the looks of what I had in the shop.  Luckily, the Easy Rider cruiser seat was on sale, today.

I think it turned out sweet, though; well worth the effort of building it.  The bike has a cool mix of old (block pedals, 1960's cruiser bars, 6-speed alloy mountain wheels, 6-speed thumb shifters) and new (saddle, seat post, tires, Wald fenders, v-brakes and levers) that really appeals to the hot-rodder in me.

I don't think that the bike is intended as a Mother's Day gift (it was built for a work-buddy's wife) but, since I finished it today, I think of it as the "Mother's Day Cruiser".


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Fruita: Part Dosie Do

On our second day of riding, Brad and i decided to ride some of the Kokopelli Trail, toward Utah.  Taking off on the Troybuilt Loop, we climbed down the cliff face (mostly on foot) to the river crossing.  From there, we rode a few minutes west, then decided to turn around and stay in the Loma area.

In the video, you will see Troybuilt, and the Mack Ridge Trail, with a 2-time return of the patented Shakycam.  The soundtrack is a bit more raucous...but then, so is the riding.



Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Fruita Trip - Day One

After meeting at my house for some French Toast and coffee, Friday morning, Brad and I loaded up the truck and headed west.  We were a bit nervous about road conditions in the mountains, so we took the Frontier, rather than Brad's Focus, doubling my miles driven for the year!

Anyway, there was a bit of snow on the road, and a little bit falling from just shy of the tunnel until just west of Vail.  Other than that, the road was dry, and the drive was easy.  We arrived in Grand Junction, around lunch time, hit my favorite thrift store, then had lunch.  Finally, around 1:00 PM, we drove out to the Loma exit to  hit up the Mary's Loop/Horsethief Bench trails.

The trails were in perfect shape.  We had a mix of blue sky and puffy white clouds overhead, and the temperature was in the high-50s to low-60s.  Pretty much perfect mountain-biking conditions, for me.

As we rode up the hill from the trailhead, my chain broke.  We weren't even 100 yards from the truck when it happened.

"Dude, I saw that!"  Brad said.  "I was looking right at your chain when it let go!"

No big deal.  I never ride without a chain tool.  So, after fixing the chain and telling Brad to keep his eyes to himself, I was ready to ride within 5 minutes.

I won't bore you to death with too much detail about the ride.  I crashed a couple of times (caught my pedal on the ground), Brad did some aerial ballet because of the same reason, but recovered without crashing.

I flatted my rear tire, as we were making the final climb to the ridge over the frontage road which takes you back to the trailhead.  After fixing it, we rode out to the frontage road, only to have it go flat again.  I had only one tube with me, and couldn't find a patch kit in my bag.  So, rather than use Brad's spare tube, I aired the tire up to 75 psi and hauled ass for the truck.  We were pushing along between 25 and 30 mph on the frontage road, and I rolled up to the truck with about 20 psi in the tire.  But... I rolled.

That night, Brad and I went to the Rockslide, in GJ, for dinner.  Rain caused the band to move in from the patio to the bar, so we sat and had a couple of beers while listening to the band until almost midnight.  More about that here.

As for the ride, check this out:

I bought myself a Flip Video camera with some of my birthday money, and this is my first attempt to put together a movie with it.  Also, in the riding scenes, I am holding the camera in one hand and steering with the other so you get a pretty strong "ShakyCam" effect.  I'll try to do better, in the future.


Sunday, May 02, 2010

Back From Fruita

Brad and I just got back from 3 days in Grand Junction/Fruita, Colorado.  This was a trip on which we had been invited to join Rich and some of his buddies on their annual ride weekend in the Grand Valley.  All of the other guys canceled out, due to concerns about the weather.

I don't know where they got their forecast, but they need to change feeds.  The skies were partly cloudy to cloudy (big, puffy white clouds), the temperatures during ride time were between 50 and 65 degrees.  Yes, there were scattered showers, but we only got the merest sprinkle, once, on the trail.

Overall, the riding was so good, and we had such fun, that we both ended up feeling a bit guilty about it.  Brad rode his new Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen, and I rode the ti bike.  Both of us were rolling on 700x42c tires, and we rode almost every loop at the Loma exit.  The only trail we didn't hit was Moore Fun, for those of you familiar with the area.

I took my new Flip Video camera, and Brad shot stills (except when we traded cameras).  I will try to put together some watchable video, and post some pictures, later.  Right now, it's time to unpack.